San Francisco is probably my favorite California city! No, IT IS my favorite California city – and for so many reasons.
Hop a flight. Take the BART train. Check into your home away from home (more about this later). Drop your bags. Jump on a trolley and exit at China Town! This isn’t just any China Town. It’s San Francisco China Town and it feels authentically Chinese! Fun shops; conical hats, colorful gifts, great food and excellent fresh made cocktails! Go to R&G Lounge and try the just- pressed watermelon or pear martini and have it with whole crab, Peking duck and some fabulous flat noodles…Heaven! Dashing in and out of the many shops along narrow side streets will tempt you with anything from books, silk robes, Asian home decor, gag gifts, brightly colored costume wigs and more. Are we in California or somewhere in the Far East? You let your mind decide.
Next stop check out the Ferry Building Marketplace on the Embarcadero. It’s the hub for all water transportation, moving suburbanites into and out of the city and en masse. This is a place where one (tourist as well) can grab a ferry for Tiburon or other charming coves around the bay for some exploration, shopping and dining. What’s so cool about this building is before boarding, pick up an artisan loaf of bread, gourmet cheese at Cowgirl Creamery, the perfect prosciutto or salami from Bocalone or lobster from Hog Island, a bottle of bubbly, roses and all this before stepping onto your water vessel headed for home. And the best part of this picture is NO FWY traffic getting you there! Now that’s my idea of stress free commuting!
I think there’s a movement going on in San Francisco. And that movement is art! And that art is the beat and pulse of a city by the bay with air as crisp as new white linens and its people moving about life and living it well. Aah and I left my heart there as the song goes. It’s no coincidence giant heart sculptures have been installed throughout the city since 2004 (inspired by the cow sculpture exhibits throughout the world) and all for charity to help support the San Francisco General Hospital. Each year notable’s such as Tony Bennett take on this task and display their heart “works” from Union Square to other points of interest in town.
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San Francisco has been through and seen it all from its humble yet brave beginnings during the Gold Rush with the hopes and promise of a fruitful future to a modern, tekkie and sophisticated urban locale flanked by world renowned wineries of Napa and Sonoma, a wild and majestic coastline producing some of the most succulent Oysters and fish of the Pacific, a cornucopia of organically grown produce affording some of the best Farm to Table menus throughout the area. Feeling energetic? Take a hike! Cross the Bridge to Sausalito and do a 7 mile loop beginning at the water’s edge near Cavallo Point and traverse the hills embracing the wild flowers. It’s something out of the “land of Oz” with vivid colors not even Crayola has thought of. And then there you are at the summit above the clouds and the Golden Gate Bridge. Nirvana.
One of my favorite pastimes in the city is milling around Fillmore St and Pacific Heights. It’s a little bit of Bohemia and lot of upscale one of a kind boutiques, antique shops, restaurants and turn of the century apartment buildings. It’s the perfect place to get lost and have a coffee, discover a must-have item for your home or a pair of shoes you can’t live without.
And let’s not forget Sundays in the Presidio during the summer. This is an iconic area which during WWII was the housing base for our military brass. It’s now a hotel along with other businesses and studios but on Sundays in the spring through summer it’s a gathering place in the Central Park area with food trucks and venues, a pop up bar show casing local wines and brews along with lively music. One can still feel the energy of what went on there during those war days (I can almost hear the Big Bands of Benny Goodman and see the classic cars stopping in front of the dance hall with a procession of ladies dressed like…ladies! Hair coiffed perfectly, gloves, seemed stockings and lips painted a daring velvety red.
After a busy day of hiking the surrounding mountains, walking the streets of San Francisco and navigating the transportation it’s time to retreat to my favorite relaxation spot in the city – Spa Vitale located on the rooftop of this wonderful boutique hideaway in the city! Don’t miss the herbal bath soak which is situated outdoors tucked in the bamboo trees. They have two deep soaking tubs situated side by side so couples or friends can do this during the same time frame yet be in our own sphere simply breathing. Guests are raised high above the hustle and bustle of the city however can catch subtle glimpses of it between the shade and privacy of the foliage. Clandestinely you are removed from the outside world while floating away in this organic herbal bliss getting the body and mind rejuvenated from the day’s excitement.
And as the sun sets over the city by the bay and you sit in the window seat of your room at Hotel Vitale with a view, listening to the chill sounds of the hotels thoughtful playlist in your room you anticipate what is to come… The sky darkens and the Bay Bridge Lights come alive! This is truly a work of art crafted by Leo Villarreal who set out to create a “Digital Campfire” of 25, 000 LED lights in celebration of the bridges 75 years in existence and with the intention to draw spectators to appreciate it as perhaps the Golden Gate has drawn so much affection. The lights have been choreographed to dance with no two steps repeated from dusk until the curtain of the night closes softly at 2 am. But catch it again tomorrow night and as often as you can till they are dimmed for good in 2015.
San Francisco is a painting you can pick up in a gallery and place on your wall or a priceless work you can hang in your mind’s eye after returning from the perfectly crafted visit.