Cable Cars and Canadians
Dan’s friend Jessica was coming to San Francisco to see The Tragically Hip, a very popular Canadian band, at The Fillmore on Saturday night. Excited to see this band again after 20 years (gasp! is he really that old?), Dan immediately scoured craigslist for tickets and came up with two. Looks like I’m off to see a band I knew very little about!
June 13-14, 2009
Total Stairs: 372 +
Around the City
Plans formed almost as quickly as they were shot down: We’d meet Jessica in the city, parking the car somewhere; I wouldn’t go to the concert but I’d pick them up afterwards; We’d drive her back to our place afterwards for the night; We’d go back to the city on Sunday and then drop Jessica off at the airport later.Nothing seemed to feel right. Then the solution was found: take the train to the city, spend the night in a hotel, walk around the next day before taking the train home. It was the perfect use of our time and resources.
Dan and I reached the city around 1:00 pm and made our way to the hotel, the Stanford Court, which has been rated one of the top 99 hotels in the country. What can I say? Dan has good taste. When we arrived at the hotel we confirmed our reservation, but the configuration we asked for (two double beds) was “unusual” and the man behind the desk said with a smile that he’d have to upgrade our room. We now had a lovely view of the city to go with our heavenly down-layered bed. Mmmm – down top cover, down duvet and down pillows. I was down with this.
“I’m going to have to give you an upgrade”
Dan and down – it was a good night’s sleep
The view from our room
Dan and I estimated when Jessica would get into town from the airport and walked back down the hill to Market St to meet her. We were met with a display of humanity only enjoyed in a big-city environment. The surprise of the day were the dozens of naked bicyclists that streamed by. They were a block ahead of us, so my photo wasn’t very clear. Probably a good thing. Dan commented on the famous cable cars and how they work. I wanted to ride one, but Dan just wanted to know more about the mechanics of them. Of course I just wanted to ride one because it was a lot easier than walking up the hills, but for $5, I’d be content to give my leg muscles some work. It’d be good for me.
Alley off of Powell
Dinner at Sears – good food.
OSHA-approved ladder halfway up the church (horizontal)
After a quick and tasty meal at Sears and some unwinding at the hotel, the three of us set off for the Fillmore. We took the scenic way there, first wandering through Japan Town. Dan and I had been here before and wanted to give Jessica a taste of what San Francisco neighborhoods had to offer. From there we trekked across a few more blocks until we found the very unassuming Fillmore. We didn’t even realize that we were in front of it until we were, well, in front of it. A short line had formed for the general admission and it was fun to pick out the Canadians as they walked by. As I said, the band is very popular in Canada and Canadians from all over had come to see them here.
The Fillmore is a fairly intimate setting and the band put on a very good show. I hadn’t been to a concert in ages and was reminded why I don’t like to go to them: I value my personal space too much. By the second half of the show I was resenting the excited dancers around me as they poked me with their elbows and stomped on my feet. Not knowing the songs, I didn’t get into the show and decided to wait out the rest of the night in a more comfortable area. I hooked up with Dan and Jessica afterwards and we walked back to the hotel, first stopping by a diner for a bite to eat. It was at least 2am by the time we got to bed.
Dan feeling proud to be Canadian
Jessica and me
The Tragically Hip – Gordon Downie, lead singer
The Tragically Hip
Proud (and loud) Canadian
Gordie gives a good show
Fillmore poster collection (one wall of many)
The next morning Dan and I woke up, but Jessica did not. The two of us decided to go for a walk while she slept in some more (she was on vacation, after all). Dan and I sauntered in a direction we hadn’t taken yet, picking up some hot chocolate along the way. The day had dawned bright and clear and I could tell that it was going to be a great day for walking the city.
There were some nice views along the way but after an hour we decided to head back. We were surprised that Jessica hadn’t called us yet but hypothesized that maybe her cell phone was dead. Along the way Dan spied something completely unexpected: the Cable Car Museum! We went directly inside and immersed ourselves in the history and mechanics of the San Francisco Cable Car. Truly fascinating.
Morning views of the bay
Looking across to Alcatraz Island
Coit Tower (Telegraph Hill) in the distance
The Cable Car Museum
Explaining how the cables work
The spinning drive sheaves
Dan brushes up on his cable history
The Grip Guide
The grip itself
Close up of the cable being “gripped”
Cable tension sheaves – spinning, loud and fast
Four different lines are being powered here
One of the original cars
Re-directing the cables underground
Notice that Dan didn’t stop
We picked up Jessica (who was still sleeping when we got back – she said that she hadn’t been sleeping much so I think she was trying to catch up) and packed up our bags. It was time to explore the city. Jessica didn’t have to catch her plane until 8pm, so we had a day in front of us. We left out bags with the concierge and headed out into the sunshine.
The first thing we did was go back down the hill to Lori’s Diner. It had looked appetizing the day before and it proved to be as good as it looked. After a very late breakfast we trudged back up the hill to catch the sights from Pacific Heights. We didn’t catch the best of the mansions in this area, but we did see some very nice homes and some fantastic views of the bay. We then walked down to the bay, first stopping by Ghirardelli’s for some hot fudge sundaes. Oh so tasty! Sauntering along the waterfront, we fought weekend crowds of tourists while taking in the sights. Street vendors, buskers and the bustle of the crowds all let to a very energetic walk.
Two cable cars pass at California and Powell
Lori’s Diner – good food, great ambiance
Heading for Pacific Heights
View across the bay
Nice house in Pacific Heights
Levi Park along Battery St
Jessica and Dan rest their feet in the park
Family along the stairs to the top of Telegraph Hill
House along the stairs
Pathway along the stairs
Branch support to the extreme
Eventually we turned away from the water and headed inland. Our energetic walk was flagging and we took a break by a soothing waterfall in Levi Park. Rested, we forged on, somehow letting Dan coerce us into climbing the estimated 378 stairs up Telegraph Hill to the base of Coit Tower. I still don’t know how he managed that. Once at the top, the cool breeze invigorated me and we took the elevator (and 40 more stairs) to the top of the tower. Wide, sweeping views (complete with plexiglass to block the wind and provide random reflections) greeted us for 360 degrees. Enough photos taken, we retreated back down the tower and back down the hill, this time heading for Chinatown.
Coit Tower plaque
Lombard Street from Coit Tower
Golden Gate Bridge from Coit Tower
City skyline from Coit Tower
Massive condo complex near the Financial District
A shipment of small arms arrives in the harbor
No matter how many times I walk through this district I always find something that fascinates me. It is as though I was literally dropped into a Chinese town (not that I’d know, since I’ve never actually been to China). Everything is authentic, including the foods displayed in the windows. I don’t know if I would survive in China if I had to eat some of the things I saw.
Random sign on a sign
Advertising – some of it just doesn’t work for me
Girl in Chinatown posing with her new parasol
By the time we had wandered through Chinatown, returned up the hill to retrieve our bags from the hotel and then got Jessica to the BART station, it had been a very long day. Jessica would be early for her flight, but by leaving now, Dan and I would have time to relax when we got home. And we still had to walk the 10 or so blocks to the train station. It had been a very relaxing yet invigorating weekend, and I look forward to returning for more.