The more I travel, the more photos I take of street signs. They become synonymous with the places I visit and are perfect little snapshot souvenirs. Enjoy!
I started this series before my trip to San Francisco in August and I raced through it! Luckily, my small local library has all of the books in the series, as well as a few more by Armistead Maupin that I haven’t gotten to yet.
- Tales of the City
- More Tales of the City
- Further Tales of the City
- Significant Others
- Sure of You
The books, originally published as serial novels in San Francisco newspapers, follow the lives of a group of people who live in the city through the 1970s and 80s.
The books touch on a little of everything: Love, loss, death, marriage, wealth, sex, gender, orientation. There were parts of the series I found a bit outlandish (a journalist with amnesia discovers a cult at the cathedral, for instance). I most enjoyed reading about the characters’ relationships and how they changed through the years. Friends fall out of touch, children are born, folks die and remarry – life moves on, and Tales of the City features strong and dynamic relationships, just like in reality.
I can’t remember the last time a book made me laugh out loud like these did, sometimes from a ridiculous situation or from a character’s snarky comment. I flew through this series and will probably move on to Maupin’s other books soon.
Everyone knows San Francisco is the quirky city by the bay, but I heard some strange things while I was there.
[Possible homeless woman approaches me, my husband and my mom as we walk on the sidewalk.]
Woman: Have you seen any raccoons? (This is particularly funny because my husband hates raccoons for some reason.)
Husband: No, not today.
Woman: But you have seen them?
Husband: No, sorry.
Woman: Okay, thanks!
That was one of the best sidewalk interactions we had in San Francisco.
[Kid, about 7 years old, riding the 5L bus with his mom and younger sister toward Golden Gate Park.]
“Mom, make up a joke to send to Dad. Here’s one: Why did the bus go through the red light? Because there was no red light!”
Reminds me of a Louis CK joke about a joke his daughter made up.
Sing it, Elton
[A man walked by us on Pier 39, where a tour boat called Rocket Boat was docked, singing to the tune of “Rocket Man.”]
“Rocket booooaaattt…cruising on the bay like every day…”
And that was the best thing that happened on Fisherman’s Wharf.
[A couple walked by us at the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market debating one of life’s important questions.]
“Should we get a little thing of potatoes or a thing of little potatoes?”
I would have gone with little potatoes.
I’m not a big talker; I can easily go all day without speaking a word to another human being. I much prefer listening, and I’m so glad I caught these gems during my trip.
1. Spend a few days trekking around San Francisco. Climb hills for the views – or because you can’t really avoid them – and walk almost everywhere because public transportation for five people (the whole family’s here!) is getting pricey. For best results, average at least four miles per day. (Bonus: wear shoes that, at home, are quite comfortable, but in this rocky, hilly city, revolt against your feet and take it out on your left pinky toe.)
2. Rent an apartment in a relatively quiet area and settle in. We chose Alamo Square. Preferably, the building will be a beautiful structure, over 100 years old, with marble stairs, a comfortable garden and intricate facade details. (That has nothing to do with the earthquake, but who wants to visit San Francisco and stay in a modern hotel or some other characterless place?) Obtain one plush king size bed with a wonderfully creaky four-post frame and a pile of marshmallow pillows. For optimum results, this bed should be so comfortable you wake up in the same position you fell asleep in.
3. Take an evening stroll to the nearby biergarten for a drink – it’s your last night in the city, after all. Just a few blocks more…oh, that’s more of a mountain than a hill, really…this place looks a lot closer on the map, but we can’t just turn around now….aaaaand there. Walk up to the bar, situated in a repurposed shipping container and order a beer. No pints here, just half or full liters of authentic German beers, so go all in. Eventually slog up the hill – don’t tumble back down – and fall blissfully into bed, knowing that your last night in San Francisco was good.
Early Sunday morning the San Francisco Bay area was rattled by the region’s strongest earthquake in 25 years…and yours truly managed to sleep through it! I blame my ability to sleep deeply on living for years in dorms and noisy places (like next to the railroad tracks) and days full of walking, drinking and eating.
I was secretly hoping that I would feel a small earthquake while we were there. Nothing serious or dangerous, just a little shake. My only other experience with earthquakes was in 2011, when there was that 5.8 in Virginia and we felt it all the way in Raleigh. That’s the one that cracked the Washington Monument. I was in French class and the desks and projector started gently swaying, and my professor didn’t even stop talking.
Later this month I’ll be getting away from the East Coast and heading to San Francisco! The more I read about and research the City by the Bay, the more excited I get. My mind is picturing a city full of history, beauty, funky people and butt-toning hills. I can’t wait!
Right now I’m just reading through travel books, blogs and websites to get my bearings before I dive into the city’s rich literary history. If you have any suggestions on what to read, let me know!
Must-sees for me:
- A trip to the forbidding island prison, Azkaban — I mean, Alcatraz.
- Taking in some art at the de Young Museum, followed by a walk through Golden Gate Park.
- Walk (or possibly bike?) across the Golden Gate Bridge. Touristy, yes. Fun, yes.
- Even more touristy, a trip on the cable cars. When in SF!
- Food: Dim sum in Chinatown, coffee and pasta in North Beach, a trip to the Farmers’ Market.
- Just taking in the view from atop a hill.
- Checking out some local breweries!