San Francisco Tales: Part III

Part 3: A Zillion Steps

Thursday, we set out to see sights. We left as soon as our laundry was done (priorities…) and headed towards the wharf. Pictures were taken.

An early lunch was had at a place way above our pay grades. To establish my working-class credentials, I ordered the fish and chips. Of course, the fish couldn’t be anything as mundane as cod; it was a couple of sizable chunks of halibut. I’m pretty sure I’d never had halibut before – and it was incredible. A satisfying taste of fish but with the texture of something else, maybe chicken. I now have a favourite fish. Even better – and it was hard to say why – was the coffee. Just a straightforward Americano, but the balance of coffee bitterness and creamy smoothness was as good as any coffee I’d had for a long time. In all, totally worth the mortgage we had to take out to pay for it. Recommended. If you have a reasonable amount of money to throw around and not too many days in which to spend it.

After lunch, we walked alongside the water, saw bridges, boats, countless tour buses. We walked a zillion steps. More or less. When our feet started to feel like they might fall off, we wanted only the comfort of the familiar: a soft seat and a Starbucks mocha. We are simple souls with simple wishes. But that’s when our odyssey began.

In any major US city, you can surely never be more than 100 feet from a Starbucks. I’m pretty sure that’s true. We found one: closed. We walked up one of those so damn picturesque SF hills to another: closed for diversity training. Despair began to set in, but instead of bowing to the obvious urge – curling into a ball and wailing like an abandoned child – we decided to Be Brave And Carry On. Obviously, it was my wife who decided, while she was unfolding me from my prone, fetal position on the sidewalk.

Have you ever been on a cable car? It’s a lot of fun…if you enjoy balancing on a narrow wooden bench, clutching with all your strength to the handrail, as cars whizz by inches from your toes as you climb precipitously up the famously vertiginous roads of San Francisco. If that’s not your thing, then maybe just stand to the side and take photos.


The cable car lets us off outside a mall roughly the size of Wales. Inside, finally, we find an open Starbucks, where we are able to take on just enough caffeine and sugar to make it back to home base for a much overdue afternoon nap.

It’s like being in the middle of the most exotic travel show ever, isn’t it?

In the evening, refreshed by blessed sleep, we are invited by my wife’s cousin to visit for dinner. A lamb was being sacrificed in our honor so, after much scrubbing and flossing, we set off to remember how to be grown-ups around other grown-ups.

We made our way to the Castro district and I guess that this is how I imagined San Francisco to be. There are rainbow flags and wall art, along with businesses with names like SPUNK. The streets are intensely up-and-down.

Then we had dinner. And it was lovely.

Look, the exalted David Sedaris – the memoir god on whose altar all other pro and amateur memoirists are slaughtered – might like to make stories out of family life, but I liked these people. Why would I expose them to scrutiny – even on a blog that’s rarely read by no more than 5 people? We had a great time; and I managed to come home without that sense of I can’t believe I said/did that, which makes a very pleasant change.

And anyway, the really juicy stuff should be kept to one side for the book deal, right?

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