Day 3 — Monday, April 27, 2015
I wanted to walk to the Embarcadero via Market Street, so Tim advised me to cut through Buena Vista Park on my way. Amazing vistas, but steep, steep, steep.
Ended up getting lost, but through a combination of native direction sense, following my nose downhill, and occasionally asking a local if I was headed the right direction, I found Market Street. For several blocks down Market, I kept meeting up with the same transient European dude (TED) at each stop light. We got to chatting. A self-professed “citizen of the world,” TED looked to be in his mid-thirties and of either Italian or Spanish descent. He offered to keep me company as I explored, but I demurred. The longer I encouraged this guy, I figured, the harder it’d be to shake him off later. I was too winded to think of taking a picture, but he looked a bit like this.
It was a warm, humid day. I was thoroughly wilted by the time I made it to the Ferry Building, approximately 3.5 miles’ walk.
The Ferry Building is full of high-end artisanal shops: sourdough bread, good cheese, fresh mushrooms, cured meats, etc. I called Tim and asked if I could pick up anything. Got a pound of shitakes to bring home.
Wilted AND parched, I stopped for a couple cold ones at Sinbad’s, just south of the Ferry Building.
Sinbad’s is seriously old-school. All the waitstaff are silver-haired gentlemen in their 60s. Passed on ordering any food there — holy cow $15.50 for a sad-looking club sandwich! I’d been told about the incredible views of the Bay Bridge and Verba Buena Island at this place, and boy, that sure didn’t disappoint. But there was very little sea traffic to gaze at, just a couple of tugboats.
I was pretty done with walking by this time, and was looking for a taxi outside the Ferry Building, and idly walking down the street when I passed a line of pedicabs.
Now, I worked for 10 years smack in the heart of San Diego’s historic downtown Gaslamp Quarter, which is tourist trap hell. I despised trying to dodge pedicabs during rush hour with the heat of a thousand suns. But I just wanted to go the length of the Embarcadero, not thread through stop-and-go traffic full of angry, bitter cube denizens. Nice straight shot, no traffic, hardly any stops even. Plus, I said I wanted to do the full tourist experience, right? So, I hired a pedicab. And I’m glad I did. It WAS fun.
The various pier buildings are quite impressive:
Got some views of an old streetcar, Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill, and an impressive brick masonry building.
Got to Pier 39, which is right next to Fisherman’s Wharf. This is absolute tourist trap hell at its worst. Still, I wandered through, just for the trippy experience. A charming carousel:
At the very end of the pier, I spotted this place called Neptune’s Waterfront Grill and Bar. Perfect. By now I was feeling pretty hungry. Had to wait a couple of minutes to get a window seat, and it was worth it. My table was on the end, in a corner window, so I had views on two sides. I could see the famous sea lions hauled out on the floating docks, the Presidio in the distance, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Sausalito in the distance… it was amazing.
Alcatraz looked practically close enough to throw a rock at.
A couple of freighters chugged in while I was there.
A water taxi pulled inside the seawall to get a close-up look at the sea lions. Later, I was shocked to see two different full-size ferries plow through there at full speed, with mere feet on either side!
I got a lovely bowl of ice-cold gazpacho and another beer there. Delightful. Outside, I had to get some video of those sea lions.
Finally took a taxi home.
Rested until dinnertime.
Another way we got around was using City CarShare. There’s a tiny parking lot literally half a block from Tim & Alex’s home that has three dedicated spots for City CarShare cars. You can rent them (online) by the hour, and if you go over time, you can extend it in 15-minute increments. Not sure how much they cost, but the convenience can’t be beat. It does depend on which car you take. One night, only the Fiat was left, and they cost more. Lemme tell you how cramped those little jobs’ interiors are compared to a Yaris.
Yamo is a tiny hole in the wall in the Mission District with peeling paint, bad lighting, and about 30 years’ worth of greasy soot coating the walls. It’s about ten feet wide and thirty feet long, with a counter that’ll seat maybe 10 people. On weekdays, office workers line up on the sidewalk outside to pick up take-out orders. They’ve been featured in Bon Appetit. Yamo has some of the best Burmese food to be found anywhere. Burmese food is something of a blend between Indian and Chinese cuisines.
We placed our orders (black bean tofu with noodles for me), and without thinking, I pulled out my camera and snapped a pic of the inside front. Instantly, the matron lady behind the counter barked at me, “NO PIT-SHAH!!!”
Aw crap, I forgot to ask first. I quickly offered a “Sorry!” as I stuffed the camera away. And indeed, my plate came out last. I don’t think they spat in it at least, because the kitchen is right there in front of you. The food was AMAZING. Outside, from the relative safety of across the street, I snapped another quick pit-shah of the exterior, such as it is.
Tim insisted that I go over there and stand outside so he could get a picture of me in front, but I refused. That lady would’ve come running out and beaten me about the head and shoulders with a soot-blackened frying pan full of boiling noodle water. Uh-uh. No way. That lady SCARED me.
Had to get a shot of this bar’s sandwich-board:
Fog rolled in just as we were returning.
We watched the very first episode of Game of Thrones. Then the first ten minutes of Gravity in 3D with good 3D glasses, not those crappy blue and red plastic things you get at movie theaters. The technology is amazing. Very impressive. Then we watched the very first episode of Veep.
By then it was 9:15 in the evening, and we decided to hit the Ice Cream Bar Soda Fountain, three blocks from their house, before it closed at 10pm. Because it was late, I didn’t think to bring my camera, and have been kicking myself for it ever since.
I’ve been in old-fashioned soda fountains before, with white marble counters and seltzer guns and flavored syrups. But this place was on another order altogether. From now on, all soda fountains will be held up to this standard, and most likely fail. I ordered a ginger ale; Tim got a sarsaparilla float. The hipster guy behind the bar knew his stuff. We watched as he added ingredient after ingredient from a row of dark brown glass tincture bottles with eyedropper tops. He carefully added a single drop of something to my ginger ale. I leaned over to see the label on the bottle. “Lime.” One drop of lime, among many other flavors. There was a solid block of ice the size of a shoebox resting on a raised tea towel in the center of a tray. They chip ice from it with an ice pick.
The ginger ale was the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. I noticed they have a small food menu, so I determined to come back and get a grilled cheese sandwich washed down with two or more fountain concoctions, filming video of each one. Unfortunately, like the rest of SF, the place doesn’t open until noon, damnit, and I couldn’t carve out the time to get back. ~KICK! KICK!~
Next post: Day 4 ~ Day of Rest ~ Dim Sum ~ Making Dog Food ~ Twin Peaks ~ Dinner @ San Tung