San Francisco Winter Weekend

By Marie Bruce

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Winter is a good time to visit a city especially for a long week-end, I persuaded my daughter to come with me to San Francisco for a little jaunt in early December.   The flight from Vancouver is short, we knew the Christmas lights would be up in all the grand hotels and big stores.  We also knew all the galleries and tourist attractions would be open.    Week-end escapes start when you lock your own front door and step into the taxi, in our case it was 6.00am a very unusual time for me to be out and about.   I love the ease of just hand luggage and  we even  had a little time to spare at the airport for a latte and to pick up a newspaper for the plane.  Arriving at San Francisco airport is easy because all the customs business is done in Vancouver so we just jumped on the Bart down to Union Square. We slogged up the hilly street to our hotel and left our bags in the room, it was warm but overcast and a big storm was forcast for the week-end.  A huge deluge of rain greeted us as we were leaving the hotel but the show had to go on and we took the trolley up to Grace Cathedral.  What a glorious place with its soaring roof and beautiful stained glass windows and two labyrinth – one indoors and another in the grounds.  Grace  Cathedral offers the citizens of San Francisco worship, art, education and service, it is truly a holy place espousing all the Christian principals of welcoming charity and community.

I went back later on in the week-end to hear the men’s choir singing an advent service – memorable and free to all.  Our hotel offered a happy hour which gave us a chance to meet all the other guests from all over the world.   We were surprised at how many tourists were visiting and how busy and throbbing the atmosphere was on the rainy streets and coffee shops, apart from the torrential rain it proved to be the perfect week-end escape.

We visited the art galleries, the wonderful science centre, had a walk in Golden gate park when the rain eased a bit.  I loved the smell of the eucalyptus trees and was surprised by the variety of plant life, the Mediterranean climate can grow more tender varieties than here in Vancouver.   We got caught up in a rainy marathon – a storm doesn’t seem to stop people getting out and about.   I went to see the amazing exhibit at the DeYoung gallery of legendary ballet dancer  Rudolf Nureyev – it showed excerpts from his great ballets and  the amazing  beaded costumes.  We spent another  morning walking around Chinatown.  San Francisco’s Chinatown is large and very much an iconic part of the city.  There are the usual shops and restaurants and salons offering massage, manicures and fortune tellers, we loved it.

We went to a farmer market down at the ferry building – an unscale and very well attended market with emphasis on cheese, seafood and interesting and unusual vegetables and a bakery.  Lots of food samples were offered but we continued on to Fisherman’s wharf for the obligatory clam chowder in the sourdough bowl.  The rain continue to pore down in torrents  the whole week-end but we had to continue with our plans , we took two hop-on, hop-off tours, the guides were excellent and we learned a lot about the history and the present day life of the city.   Of course we intended to walk and maybe even rent bikes to ride over the golden gate bridge but those plans were impossible.

We browsed the shops and we both bought wonderful boots now that I am home I wish we splashed out and bought two pairs they are so comfortable.  Eating and drink in San Francisco is part of any visit to the city and there are restaurants everywhere.  We had no memorable meals but all our meals were good and random.  Both of us love oysters so we went to an oyster bar for happy hour and indulged.  We both felt we were in a cosmopolitan city and a complete change from home.    San Francisco is easy to get to from Vancouver, it has the big city feel and wonderful cultural attractions, definitely worth a winter visit.

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