You know how sometimes you meet someone and, in an instant, you're all "I do not like this person whatsoever." Or, you decide to be BFFs with someone before they even open their mouth? I think it's possible to have that kind of instantaneous chemistry with a place. This was my first visit to California, for the Brit + Co. extravaganza called Re:Make 2014. I didn't know if I would be Tupac or Biggie, team west coast or team east coast. I'm still undecided, but one thing I know for sure: I am definitely team San Fran.
I had the added benefit of spending my first day in SF with the Brit + Co. team and other Re:Make attendees. Most were SF locals and gave me all the inside information on things I had to see and places I had to go. Here are some of my favorites.
Of course, any place with a seaside view can't be THAT bad. Pier 39 is the touristy hot spot of SF, which isn't really my gig, but it's worth it solely for the people watching/boat watching/sea lion watching (and smelling.)
My conference was down in the Fort Mason area and that was extra prime for boat watching. And by boat watching, I mean by-the-edge-of-your-seat, gasping-for-air as teams on sailboats rock from one side of the sail boat to the other and nearly tip over, and then proceed to crash into one another with a deafening boom and then cuss each other out loud enough for the entire beach to hear. Grab the popcorn & enjoy the show. You could really spend the entire morning watching the boats. My mom came along with me and that's pretty much all she did day one - and totally loved it.
About lunch time, head over to Ferry Plaza and feast on samples from the Farmers Market. Baskets of fruit and buckets of fresh flowers, any kind of meat or produce you could ever think of under pop-up tents along the pier. It's a perfect place for a midmorning snack, or to stock up on snacks for the rest of your adventures. And, of course, more people watching.
Another killer place to eat is Mel's Diner. I walked in and turned to mom, saying I thought we came through the wrong door. A warm, hefty Mexican man in a Mel's uniform came up to me and said "Never the wrong door. Always welcome." Aww.
Mel's has that American Graffiti vibe without being too put on. The menu is all comfort - glorious, meaty, cheesy comfort. And the price is on point. The Painted Ladies is an iconic row of houses, famous for the opening of Full House. The park right across from it is the real winner, though. People, pets, even rouge hipster babies chill on the lawn and enjoy the view of the city underneath huge, gorgeous trees. Since we were already down in that area, I decided to drag mom to the hippie hidey-hole, Haight & Ashbury. We snuck onto the bus without paying, inhaled some secondhand weed, and I hugged a homeless tranny from Tulsa. It's definitely a freak parade - but man if I don't have a thing for strays, misfits, and outcasts. I just think if you're lucky enough to have a space in this life where you feel accepted, who are you to keep that kind of compassion to yourself? An asshole, that's who. And everyone likes hugs.
Haight & Ashbury is perfect if you're shopping for real-deal vintage pieces, handmade, high-quality goods or super unique gifts. We wrapped up the sight seeing at Coit Tower. It was a pretty romantic view, and really close to Lombard Street - that iconic, snake-y road you always see in pictures and movies. Watching the sun go down on the bay was the best way to say goodbye to this not-so-new-anymore city. I left feeling like me & San Fran were friends.
If you have any favorite spots in SF or California, give 'em a shout out in the comments.
P.S. All these images were taken with a Canon T2i and the standard kit lens (18-55mm). The lens isn't the greatest in quality glass, but it's lightweight and versatile enough that it makes traveling so much easier. The higher quality lenses are heavier and kind of a bitch to lug around on your adventures. PLUS if the kit lens breaks because you tripped over a seagull on the beach or had one too many margs, it's no big deal. Unlike, say, breaking a $1,000 lens - my stomach drops at the mere thought. Talk about a buzz kill.
And if you're traveling with people who don't know their way around a camera, take this lens - it's just simpler for non-photogs to work so you can get pictures of yourself for once! ;)
The images were edited in Photoshop and the text overlays are my own handwriting.