Let me start by admitting my big San Francisco fail: I didn’t have Rice-a-roni once in the two days I was there. Otherwise, it was a marvelous stop. I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my favourite things about cruising is opening the stateroom window first thing in the morning and seeing a brand new city outside. Well, this morning I’d slept pretty terribly and I was more invested in getting Teddy fed and changed, so I took a very token look outside. Right in front of us were three rooftops (part of the pier, I guess), that had all been just hosed with bird shit. Beautiful, I though. It wasn’t until Sarah took a peek out and said, “What a view!” that I finally looked beyond those rooftops, and there was the Golden Gate Bridge just beyond, and Alcatraz to our right, and the San Francisco skyline to our left. It was the best view of our trip.
Our first stop was a short walk down the way from our ship, to Pier 39. It’s an area that has become a hang out for a huge number of seals and sea lions. They’re very fat, very lazy, and very loud (which is true of me as well, if you replace ‘loud’ with ‘marblemouthed’). We took Teddy out of his stroller and gave him some excellent views of everything, but he was way more interested in staring straight down into the water, content to totally ignore seven hundred barking sea lions. From there, we took a walk through Fisherman’s Wharf, which is a pretty terrible place, really. It’s Niagara Falls without the falls. Touristy cities of the world take note: when a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not opens up in your neighborhood, it’s a good time to break out the napalm and start from scratch.
Next, we took a cable car ride, from the Hyde Street turn around at Fisherman’s Wharf to the end at Hallidie Square. Sarah was super kind and took a seat inside with Teddy, letting me stand at the very back of the car where you can basically hang right over the edge. I took a ton of pictures and some great videos. My favourite video is the first one, where the car just gets started. I’m clearly caught of guard, evidenced by the way I holler JEZUS! as the car whips around a corner and starts chugging uphill. After this, we took a trolley back to the ship, and Teddy and I both had epic naps.
We went for a second quick walk then, back to Fisherman’s Wharf, but particularly to the Musee Mechanique, which is basically an arcade with (mostly) old-timey videogames. Pong, yes, but also those insert-a-quarter, turn-the-crank, and watch the movie thingys. Strangely, they also had Big Buck Hunter 2, which I guess is a classic. After this, we met up with Katie. We love Katie, and with her being all West Coast, and us being all East Coast, and all that tension going on between the rap circles with which we are affiliated, we don’t get to see her too often. So even though we only had a few hours to spend together, we soaked it up. Katie took us to this excellent restaurant called the Slanted Door (an SF institution, so I’m told), and we chatted and went nom nom nom, and too soon after had to say bye to her. (Until the wedding! Woo!)
Our second day in San Francisco, Sarah’s parents were awesome and took Teddy with them, which allowed Sarah and me to beeline it over to Valencia Street. The day before, Katie had brought us presents, most of which were from 826 Valencia, which is a place I’d heard about but didn’t realize was in San Francisco. 826 is a tutoring centre founded by Dave Eggers that runs writing workshops for kids, (and where some of the tutors happened to include folks like Michael Chabon). 826 Valencia is also… a pirate supply store. (The story goes that when lease papers were being signed, the owners—who were after the space solely for tutoring purposes—were asked, “So, this building is zoned as commercial. What will you be selling?” they answered, “Um,… pirate supplies!”) It’s a hilarious place, where you can buy giant padlocks, designer glass eyes, a bottle of Scurvy Be Gone, anything to fulfill your piratey needs. They also have no end of novelty shirts, which I bought no end of.
Beyond this, we stopped at a taqueria to eat some kind of Super Burrito (and indeed it was super), walked very quickly through the Mission District, hit used bookstores, rode another cable car downhill and stopped at a Trader Joe’s where we bought a not good beer called Simple Times for the insane price of fifty cents a can. Also, after sail away I realized I’d made a large error at one of the restaurants. While some people leave their hearts in San Francisco, I left my credit card.