Friday, June 15, 2007

Adventures in San Francisco

We got into San Fran early enough to make a go of things, and so I goed.
Took a shuttle back to the airport from the hotel, and from there took a train whose name was BART. Not sure if that stands for something or that's just what its parents came up with. To get past the turnstile, you put money into an ATM-like affair, and it spits out a ticket. Different destinations cost different amounts, and so you can change the amount to put on the ticket. The minimum amount was $14.05, more than what it was going to cost me to get to Powell Street (which is where I determined I was going on my big foldy tourist SF map), and so I changed it to the minimum, thinking I didn't want to tie up more funds than I needed on the ticket. And so, as I'm sure you've all realized, in addition to the five dollars in quarters it gave me back, it also gave me 95 cents, the maximum amount of change you can have before it turns into a dollar. Thus, through tremendous lack of foresight, I started a walking trip eight pounds heavier.
BART was a lot like the train in Chicago... it's loud, and it goes both under and above ground. I met a foreign girl who was as lost as I was, and we put our heads together about how to get where she was going. She's probably a cobwebbed skeleton in the corner of a transfer station now.
Missed Powell Street because I was trying to figure out how to fold that damn map, and got off at the next one, Embarcadero.

Hit the sunlight again to sounds of people, birds, and bum saxophones, and realized two things. First was that San Francisco is cold. A cold place in California? Who knew? Second was that I was completely lost. When where you just came from is underground, you can't retrace your steps. That's a feeling both exhilarating and frightening, realizing you are totally hosed in a city you don't belong to. Thought to jump a trolley back to Powell, but decided to hoof it. And I'm glad I did, for two reasons. First, despite the serious hike up the serious hill, I got this shot:

That there is most of the Transamerica Building. Back when I was military, I took a trip to SF and one of my quests then was to touch that building and see what was at the bottom of it. Was rather disappointed to find out that it was an ATM. But I digress. The second reason I'm glad I took that hill is that, had I not, I would never have stumbled into Chinatown.

A thing I quickly discovered about Chinatown is that you can get some pretty wierd crap there. Each store has pretty much the same stuff, but it's all cool stuff. Asian jewelry sits next to tai chi swords sits next to Mandarin dresses sits next to Chinese Kewpie dolls dressed Native American sits next to inedible food product sits next to bootleg American DVDs subtitled in Cantonese sits next to Chairman Mao hats. Canton Bazaar right there had several fertility statues, which is a high society name for large wooden phalluses. I mean large. As tall as me large. You're going to be seriously fertile. Babies for life.
Looked for the Wing Kong Exhange, but no luck. And if any of you gets that, I'll give you a dollar.
Finally got back on track, and found a trolley going my way. At that point, I realized I had no idea what to do with a trolley. Do you need a ticket? Do you just hop on? I saw several locals just grab on, and so I did as they did.

Trolleys are great. They're also man-powered, a thing I didn't realize. There's a loud yahoo on there yanking brakes and stepping on pedals to keep from hitting traffic. After a brief and curvy downhill jaunt (which passed Lombard Street too quickly for me to get a picture), I disembarcated at Fisherman's Wharf.

Here I caved and bought a touristy San Francisco hoodie. Walked around in the incredible smell of steaming seafood (not a lot of that in Salt Lake), then headed for the water. And wouldn't you know... someone went and put a prison right in front of a perfectly good sunset:

Ate some fish and chips, and then started the trek back. Got to watch the guys turn around the trolley. If you haven't seen that on The History Channel, what happens is the tracks loop at the end of the run, and the guys just hop off and push the trolley around the bend so that it's headed back up again. And here we go with the lack of foresight again... it hadn't even occurred to me how a trolley that works by gravity was going to get me back up a hill. Lucky for me, someone last century had already thought of that.
San Francisco is neat. I'm going back.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

BART = Bay Area Rapid Transit

7:28 AM  
Blogger Indigeaux said...

Do I get my dollar from you or John Carpenter?

9:37 AM  
Anonymous zb said...

The thing about the sunset obstruction facility (SOF) made me laugh out loud. Thanks for the entertainment.

1:54 AM  
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