We visited San Francisco today and I must say our general feeling about the whole city was pretty much, meh. To be fair the city seems like a beautiful place and I’ve had many friends tell me it’s a great place to visit. I think it was mostly our fault we didn’t enjoy ourselves. Our “do everything spontaneously” plan seems to have backfired on us. Normally when we visit a major city we drive in, tap into the city’s vibe and energy wave, and then just wander around hanging out. Seems like today, however, the force wasn’t with us. Today was the half way point on our trip and we hadn’t come to any conclusion about our plans for the future. It was weighing on us both heavily.
We drove into San Francisco with a tourist map they gave us at the hotel, with little circles around Chinatown, and a place called Japantown. Now normally when we visit a city that’s enough to get us started. We don’t spend hours researching the perfect day, because we normally prefer spontaneity. Additionally, we were trying to be frugal this trip so we avoided the wharf and all those Alcatraz tours. In hindsight, maybe we shouldn’t have. We parked in downtown by Union Square and headed towards the Chinatown area.
Lauren and I are huge fans of Asian food and culture. Until we get the chance to visit Asia, we placate our urges by visiting Chinatown’s all across the country buying odd snacks and cheap imports. :-) The stroll through Chinatown was nice and we definitely had enough options as far as markets were concerned. We then had a nice lunch made up of dim-sum picked up at a local market while we walked around.
Our day turned south when we decided to head towards Japantown. Our big mistake was making the walk. We found ourselves in some sketchy parts of town. In itself, the walk isn’t so bad, we are from Miami. It was something about the combination of dodging vagrants while walking up hill, mixed with the stench of stale urine that got to us pretty quickly. If we had to do it again we would definitely take the trolley or a cab. The walk ended up taking us about 45 minutes without much to see. On the bright side we did meet a crazy cat lady and see a bunch of cool old doors.
Once we got to Japantown, it ended up being pretty neat. There were lots of shops owned by Japanese Americans and plenty of places to grab a bite. I had a Tai Yaki here for the first time and it was delicious. Imagine, if you will, a freshly toasted pastry filled with a decadent blend of chocolate sauce and banana shaped like a fish. Why is it shaped like a fish? I dunno, because they’re Japanese, and that’s just how it is. There are also other fine flavors available if you happen to be a member of the Banana Haters Club (founded by Lauren, membership 1).
At this point you might be wondering: What else is there in Japantown Kenin? Well, there are enough book stores, anime shops, and Sanrio stores to make your average Japanese fanboy wet himself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a bit of a Japanophile myself. How can one resist being a bit fascinated by the culture that’s best known for things like Samurai and Karaoke?
After leaving Japantown we huffed it back to downtown and decided we had had enough walking for one day . We went back to the car and decided to take a scenic drive to the Golden Gate Bridge (another list item) . It was while driving down Market St. that Lauren and I decided that we may not have given the city a fair shake. We ended up taking a lovely drive through the city and then crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge.
We parked at the visitor’s center on the North Side and got out to take some photos. Once we pulled in and parked (no small feat) we had to dodge hordes off tourists that were all trying to take pictures with their iPads and get back into their busses as quickly as possible. Ultimately, it was definitely worth the aggravation to see one of the country’s most famous bridges. While looking up some info on the bridge, I read that it’s practically impossible to get a clean shot of the bridge due to all the fog and tough angles. I am sad to report that it appears to be true.
Once we were done with the bridge we looped back around through Berkeley towards Oakland. On the way we found ourselves a nice Korean restaurant called Be Bop. It had lots of different options including a ton of vegetarian and vegan choices. We had a great meal and even met the owner. She and her entire staff were warm and gracious and made for a nice evening. Afterwords we took a stroll along College Ave, and decided to call it an early night.
We went back to the hotel and sat around talking about the day and the trip overall. We were both filled with mixed emotions at this point. We were happy because we had been enjoying ourselves so much, but terrified because we had no plan for income or a future after the trip. To make matters worse we were going to start visiting family soon and had no real answers. Ultimately we agreed that even though our future was uncertain, we were happier now than we were when I was working 70 hours a week. We had to accept that fact and both trust each other enough to know that the other person would do whatever they could to preserve this happiness.
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