If you had any semblance of an upbringing in the Northeast, you’ve grown up believing that California is full of traffic, macro-loaded kale fro-yo served with a side of crystals and om shanti, and people who are as superficial as they are soft from living in the perpetually not-too-hot-just-right sunshine.
So it was with a sigh of resignation that I decided that, after years of becoming known as an excellent gift giver, it was time to make good use of my Southwest points and to take Felix to San Francisco for a weekend for his Christmas present. Of course, I couldn’t make things too easy … so he had no idea where we were going from December 24th until the minute before we got in line for security last Thursday. The hint in his Christmas card was my rendition Chinese symbol for the Year of the Dog (or at least I’m pretty sure it was).
Anyways, San Francisco was expensive, white, and sunny. The food was amazing, the city is gorgeous, and my butt is at its perkiest since college after hauling myself up 45° hills.
After an extremely hip wine bar on the first night, we spent the first full day ogling at houses we’ll never be able to afford in Russian Hill before heading to what the locals describe as their own Times Square, aka Fisherman’s Wharf … which makes me assume that no one from that city has ever been to New York, because if Times Square were ever that empty, I would have to assume that there had been a terrorist attack.
That evening we went to Japantown, and …
… sang karaoke. “I Want it That Way” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” to be specific. At a Japanese sake bar. Fueled with liquid courage and the knowledge that Schubert’s “Ave Maria” was, for some reason, an option in the songbook.
The following two days were spent eating Mexican food in the Mission and overpriced Greek food and cocktails in Hayes Valley, watching the Chinese New Years Parade in Chinatown, and riding bikes around Golden Gate Park.
And you know what? If you can ignore that a 2 bedroom apartment is north of $5k per month, and that you haven’t seen any diversity in almost a week, the city is actually a really nice place.
So, the real question is: can it beat out my hometown? That would be a stretch. But I can’t deny that it’s a beautiful place, and if it wouldn’t take half of my salary just to pay rent, I might even consider living there. It hit all of the basic elements of a top city: good coffee, good weather, interesting neighborhoods.
But then, on the last morning, I paid $20 for two croissants and two coffees. So I’ll have to think about that.