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Saturday, August 18, 2012

••◊ Never trust San Francisco schedules, part 3

One of the redeeming factors about San Francisco is the mixture of lovely architecture.  The photos below show some features of the lobby at the historic Hotel Whitcomb, where I stayed.  The hotel has been declared a historic landmark and even served as San Francisco's temporary city hall from 1912-1915 because of the 1906 earthquake.  As you walk in you're greeted by the door man dressed in classic garb who proudly proclaims, "welcome to my hotel," followed by, "well...it's not really my hotel...I just work here."  One might expect jazz music and a smokey haze coming from the meeting hall just around the corner from the check-in desk.  I know that it felt very international to me.  When checking in, almost all the groups in line spoke a different language.  Some days we would note the Italians, or Germans, or English, or the hardest language to understand - Scottish.

The rooms have obviously been remodeled with force fed bathrooms.  I would have taken a picture, however I don't think a 17mm lens would have been wide enough to shoehorn an image out of the bathroom.  My Aunt wrote the following haiku about the guest rooms.

Hotel Whitcomb-ah
Historic landmark beauty
tiniest bathrooms

On Monday's walking tour of the city one of the places we explored was the Palace of Fine Arts.  The area was originally built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exposition, so the original structures were made out of chicken wire and plaster - not very durable.  The city decided to keep the landmark, but replace the structures with concrete and proper construction.  The park and Greek inspired ruins are now enjoyed by a mix of families and tourists, all left with crooked necks from looking up.  The second picture features our fellow tour-mates taking a picture in front of the fountain.  The third picture is a stitched panorama showing a 180 degree view of the inside of the dome. 

So far during the day the buses had been running according to our tour guide's iPhone app.  However things began to get a little random mid-day, which meant walking a block or two more to catch buses that we're quite timed right.

Below are three pictures from neighborhood homes I found interesting.  First up is the Marina district homes, literally across the street from the marina.  These homes were built on "reclaimed" land, which isn't as stable as natural land.  In the last major earthquake a lot of these homes were devastated; as in broke in half.  I guess if you have the money to buy here, you don't mind a little home repair from time to time.

The second picture represents the view that $6 million dollars can currently buy you in San Francisco.  Sure...sign me up for two or three of those. What the hell, make it four.

The third picture represents some of the classical home styles in San Francisco that weren't destroyed by the great fire.  Victorian, Queen Anne, and other styles dot this upscale family neighborhood.  I know that these homes would require massive upkeep, but I still wonder what it would be like to live away from the bland cookie-cutter suburbs.  It's probably better as a thought than reality.   

A characteristic of San Francisco that has remained consistent in my mind is the wonderful assortment of neighborhood restaurants.  On the walking tour we ended up at a place called The Plant on Steiner Street.  I had the seasonal tempe, which was very tasty and well seasoned!

On Tuesday Sara and I broke away at the bay piers and walked up the infamous Telegraph Hill steps to see Coit Tower.  I mainly wanted to see the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, but they were off satisfying some other tourist this day.  Telegraph hill was originally used as a giant signal to let business people in the city know what ships were approaching the harbor.  In 1929 Lillie Coit left a portion of her fortune to the city and they built Coit tower to acknowledge her support of the firefighters of San Francisco.  If you walk inside the tower (too dark to take pictures) you'll see the inside is covered with murals of firefighters.

The Coit Tower backyard has a grand view of the bay bridge.  I suddenly had a continuous stream of foreign tourist couples walk up to me asking me to take their picture with the view in the background, probably because they were fooled into thinking I was a fancy photographer with that 5 pound camera around my neck.  With the last couple I murmured something like, "man, I should start charging."  To which the Frenchman brushed his hand against my shoulder and replied, "yes, right after us, OK?" 

I still haven't figured out the connection to the Christopher Columbus statue out front, but I'm sure it's buried in the Wikipedia entry somewhere.  From this hill you pretty much have a 360 degree view of the city, with a little of the view blocked by trees. 

The final installment comes next week.

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