The weekend provided some needed down time from all this vacation frivolity. We just hung out at the apartment for the most part. Mary got to exercise her cleaning fetish by attacking with her dustcloth and cleaning rags the corners and crevices that only she can find. I read and napped and took her out to lunch. Since cleaning and eating out for lunch (preferably alfresco--the eating, not the cleaning) are her two favorite things to do, she is mostly happy and content. She is easy to please most of the time.
Today it was back to exercising our tourist muscles. We decided to do a driving tour of some of the highlights of San Francisco. Our first destination was Chinatown. Ok, what’s the big deal? You’ve got about 16 square blocks of Chinese people milling around and scampering from shop to warehouse to restaurant. Only they know which is which because all the signs are in Chinese. At least I assume that is Chinese on those signs, but since I neither speak nor read nor write Chinese, I am left with the uneasy feeling that they are pulling a fast one on us. San Francisco’s Chinatown is ostensibly one of the largest concentrations of Chinese in any city outside of China itself, but I can’t shake the feeling that it is really a Disneyesqe creation meant to separate the European/American Caucasian tourists from as much of their money as legally possible. It seems to be working out well for our Asian brothers since they have enough of our money now to buy most of the rest of downtown San Francisco.
After leaving the Far East Pavilion of Disney World, we drove to the top of Telegraph Hill. The Coit Tower juts skyward from the top of this mound of rock and dirt. From the top of the tower ($3.75 just to ride the elevator to the top), the panoramic view of the entire Bay area is unequaled. Since I am too cheap to pay to ride an elevator, I only saw 95% of the Bay area from the top of the hill. Somehow I don’t feel cheated at all.
The high light of my day, and the part that left Mary with a permanent twitch, was the drive down Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world as they bill it here . This is the street featured in innumerable TV and movie car chases where the bad guys are too stupid to take one of the other straight streets to make their getaway. Five mph is the posted speed limit and that is a careening pace if you choose to dare going that fast. I was grinning ear to ear while twisting the steering wheel hard right and hard left while smoking the brakes. And that was just coasting. Mary spent the entire five minute ride hyperventilating and entreating every saint she could think of to help spare our lives. Her entreaties must have worked, or maybe it was my amazing driving ability, because we arrived at the bottom of the hill unscathed, with nary a dent in the car or my ego.
We then cruised the Embarcadero, a drive along the waterfront with a lot of buildings blocking the view of the water and big buildings that house rich people. Every major city has an area just like it, and we poor folk love to drive by and wish.
That was our day today. Tomorrow we do the Alcatraz tour to see where they housed the bad guys who stole the rich people’s money and then tried to get away by driving down Lombard Street. Go bad guys!
I promise a full report tomorrow.