San Francisco: home of GAP and the raincoat

January 31, 2008 - San Francisco, California, United States

The shopping continued when Jo and I headed out on Tuesday, this time with a lot more success. Despite the rain, we walked a couple of kilometres to an outdoor store where I found the shirt I'd been looking for, then we headed back to town where Jo bought a lovely black raincoat and I bought Grandma's birthday present. (Got to love the 11% tourist cards at Macy's and Bloomingdale's, and the sales!) Finding a post office has proven more difficult, but we spotted one yesterday so I headed back there this afternoon.
A walk up Nobb Hill behind where we're staying took us to Grace Church, a beautiful cathedral with very liberal views, like the rest of San Francisco. We continued our walk through Chinatown on our way to Little Italy for dinner and a couple of hours at the City Lights bookstore, that closed at midnight (still getting used to the late opening and closing times around here). The bookstore is a major part of literary and free speech history, and I found an amazing selection of books for the places that I'm traveling to during the year.
We spent Wednesday morning at Alcatraz. The former maximum security prison is just 1.5 miles from the San Francisco coastline, and apparently inmates could hear and see what they were missing while they were confined.
A portion of Lombard Street has the claim to San Francisco's 'crookedest' street; not for dodgy dealings, but due to the gradient of the hill. We walked up the street then spent the afternoon checking out cow hollow - a lovely suburban shopping strip (no clothes, just coffee).
Today we joined a small tour (ie the tour guide, two girls from Norway and us) and checked out some more city sights including the Haight (hippies and home of the original GAP until it went out of business about six months ago), Castro (gay district), Mission (Mexican area and huge street murals), twin peaks (views of the bay and ocean - when it's not overcast), Golden Gate Bridge and Muir Woods. The woods have redwood trees that are about as tall as the huge karris and marris in WA. Despite the rain, it was a lovely hour walk checking out the national park. However, it was weird to drive past a stand of gum trees on the way to the woods, apparently they've been here for more than 100 years!
We were preparing for a limo ride around the city tonight, but it looks like it's been cancelled due to lack of participants. We've seen most of the main sights now, but it would have been fun. Oh well, that's what happens when you visit a city in the middle of it's off-season.
Still overcoming the culture shock of people not understanding us when we're asked our names - Jo is constantly called Joy - and I'm finding the traffic driving on the right side of the road somewhat amusing - never know quite where to look when I cross the road, especially when I've got my rain hat covering most of my face!
Hopefully we'll visit a few art galleries tomorrow and the farmer'smarket on Saturday before heading to Mexico a few hours before theSuper Bowl kicks off in the US on Sunday.


The Rock
No concealing of prisoners allowed...
The crooked corner
Told you it was only five miles/hour


February 1, 2008
Sounds a bit of a torment that you hit such a great shopping spot so early in your trip--and remember, to an Aussie right now, (Victorian variety at least)all rain is good!
February 2, 2008
Sounds like your settling in your usual shopping mode. Lots of love, Dad.
February 3, 2008
Hi Katie! Glad you are enjoying San Fran. I had a ball when I was there and did most of the things you did - Lombard Street, the Wharf, Haight and Ashbury, Alcatraz - except for the shopping. Just didn't get enough time.

Am so envious of the rain you're getting - we've had over a week of 30-plus temps in Perth and I am SO over it.

Looking forward to the next update!
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