Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Travel disrupts the normal, but my normal includes so much travel that it becomes rather ordinary: I put on my travel mindset and, like listening to rather dull, inconsequential music, I go through the motions of packing a bag, eating a last fabulous breakfast (this part's not dull!)...


... tidying spaces and getting them ready for days of solo Ed use (yep, there's a difference!), going over lists of things that must be done, both in California and Wisconsin and finally riding to the airport with Ed, and catching the flights to Minneapolis, then San Francisco.

I leave a greening Wisconsin behind...


...cross this vast continent which, from the air, always feels even more vast...


...and arrive in the somewhat parched but green nonetheless California. It's rare that the incoming flight gives such gorgeous views of the Bay, but this time it does and I'm grateful for it.


I should mention that I am lucky, because an agent at the airport kindly agreed to put me on an earlier flight. I was to have no time in the city tonight, but now, instead, I have a late afternoon to roam the streets, in search of that, which makes San Francisco such a popular place, for locals and visitors from all over the world.

My own history with this city is very long. I have had family living in the Bay Area since I was very young and indeed, my grandma chose this to be her home for her senior years and my mother is following in those footsteps. I never saw this as a city to love or hate -- it's just the place where one American branch of my family chose to settle.

It is, of course, far nicer than many places where a parent might choose to retire, but it is distant from where I live and so a trip here is a major production. More major than, say, going to Chicago.

I'm staying at the Triton -- a very funky hotel just by Chinatown. All my recent San Francisco stays have been in hotels that form the Kimpton group and in this way I feel I am returning to a family of hotels.  Here's my room -- nicely in the corner, so with light. The wallpaper is a print of pages from a novel. I wonder if I would recognize it if I read it. After all, you wouldn't do a wallpaper of something obscure... Or would you?


In the (really funky) lobby, there are hula hoops. Just because.


I did not plan a walk or a destination and now, flush with more time, I consider the possibilities. Walk. Randomly. The park is too far, the obvious recommended destination -- Fishermans Wharf -- nah. So I walk the streets, which here are often steep...


...and I smile at the fact that California always meets your images of what California is like. You know, sunglasses.


And a love of the sun. Which appears to be always present.


Eventually, I cannot stand feeling so hungry anymore (it's been a while since that bowl of oatmeal) and so I look at the menus of the handful of recommended (by the desk clerks) fresh and honest eateries around me. Expensive.

I go to a Chinese place. After all, I'm hugging Chinatown.


I read the menu and retreat. The concept of fresh an honest -- so California, yet so elusive!  I'm getting in that fussy state where I am very hungry, but I don't want to make a mistake. (A mistake = spend too much money on food that's not good... It's surprisingly easy to do.) Finally I go back to a place that seems both simple and immensely popular. E & O Asian Kitchen. So much is it popular, that there's only one spot open and it's at the bar. Perfect! Even though I am a bit of an odd shoe here. I'm too old, too not California, too in love with the porch at the farmette and Pouic Pouic on the other side of the ocean. I'm not like her -- I'm not wearing a beautiful little black dress and if Ed were here, he would not be like him, behind her, with cufflinks clasped just so.


Still, I don't mind playing the outsider that I am. I order two appetizer dishes and a complicated drink that's fizzy and refreshing and one of the dishes is just superb and exactly what I need. (This one: with the shrimp the herbs the fruits the cucumbers the Asian flavors; the second one of chicken satays is fine if a tad boring.)


And then I drag myself back to the hotel. It is my 10 p.m. and their 8 p.m. and I still have a post to write and emails that deserve a response.

Except my funky hotel is having a funky problem: the internet is not working. I give them some time to diagnose the issue, but as the minutes drag on, it becomes clear that they haven't a clue and neither do the engineers and so it is time to tell them that this wont work for me: I have to check out.

It's handy then to be in a hotel group: there are sister hotels in town and one has rooms and yes, it will be the same price. But this new one, the Sir Frances or some Drake person -- it is so not my type of hotel! Larger, older, once glitzy now just tired (as I am). The hotel staff beam, thinking this to be an upgrade, as it's their flagship hotel, but I feel like I should use their functional internet to find another place tomorrow.

For now, I put off thinking about hotels and concentrate on writing. And I remind myself that the sunshine today was brilliant and this is nothing to sneeze at

San Francisco does know how to look at the bright side of the equation. And that's a good thing.


  1. I can almost feel that you're tired through your writing. I've been to San Francisco and it can be an energetic, beautiful town. You didn't really convey any of that in your post - though I did enjoy the unique style of your first hotel.

    Hope you have a restful night and a much more pleasant day tomorrow. Good night!

    1. Snowfleurry, I should not have merged a response to you and to Irene B. Sorry. My fault on that one. Okay? :)

    2. Thanks for that, Nina. I really didn't mean to sound judgmental at all and I'm sorry if I somehow came off that way. I was more concerned with you not having the energy that you usually seem to have. *hugs*

  2. Great photo of the approach to SF... how did you know my preK teacher friend and I are doing bridge building projects with her class? :^) It will be fun to show them a print of it next week!

  3. San Francisco is one of my favorite destinations. How disappointing to read your disappointments. America will never be Europe. It's America. It's uniquely itself and I appreciate that. It will always be the young sassy brat - especially California with its glam and glitz and sunglasses and attitude. I'm 6th generation - my ancestors came here for a better life and got it, and gave it to me. I found your unhappiness confusing and sad. I guess I roll with glitches as unexpected detours with opportunities to be inventive. Sometimes we must simply laugh at unimportant inconveniences. It would never take three hotels for me to find contentment. Am hoping more than just sunshine brightens your ensuing days. Love.

    1. You and snowfleurry are prjocting an awful lot into a post that talks about something other that just "liking" a city. I've been to SF more than a dozen times. I'm not here to discover it. I have been in Paris and Warsaw in equally pensive, detached moods where I move around trying to fit myself in and yet, for whatever reason, often times weather related, the details just pile up. And I reflect on that, rather than how great or not great a place is.

      SF is beloved by many many people. I find it nice, but it's not my beloved. We bring different emotions to the table. I'm surprised to get a push back just because I dont rave about a place that for me is just a stopover to other things that I want to accomplish here.

    2. Most important is that you are there. Wishing you the best visit ever with your mother.

    3. Oh and hope you found suitable accommodations. :)

    4. Well, I'm glad to read your comment. Here I was thinking I'd missed something, because I didn't "read" unhappiness in your post, and I usually think that I "get" you.

      I hope tomorrow presents to you interesting sights and people and, oh yes, food and drink! 🍷

      PS Goodbye to the funky place, I thought the lobby was so hideous it was funny...or is that one definition of funky? It is a lobby I'd like to walk through on my way to somewhere else. :)
      But that's just me.

    5. I read your PS to my Mom, after she asked why I was laughing so hard! She, too, thought it looked like a dump! And yes, thou getest me well.:)

  4. Hello to your mom! I love funky kimpton especially when karma our dog is with us.

    1. Kimpton has rescued me many times and I dont even have a dog! :) I stay loyal to them because they really have a terrific attitude!


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