Tag Archive: travel


“Boy on Horse” in Hyderabad, India, by photographer Shiva Krishna.

Pic of the Day – 3/2/19

This vegetable vendor has worked for 30 years in the same spot in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. Photo by Steve Demeranville.

Gordon Ramsay knows that good first impressions are everything.

Destin of Smarter Every Day has a new binaural experience. Wear headphones for the best experience, or at least have stereo speakers.

Molyvos, in Lesvos, Greece.

Day 6: Monday, April 30, 2018 – Last Day

Woke up early with the plan to leave by 8:00 am. Around 7:15 Rich called me – my flight had been cancelled. I got on the phone with Southwest and got on a direct flight leaving a couple of hours later. Whew! If I’d just gone straight to the airport as planned, I’m sure all available SFO-SAN alternates would have already been filled up. Ended up leaving at 9:30 instead.

Goodbyes and hugs with Tim & Alex, then took a Lyft to the downtown Civic Center BART station (my first time using the app – it worked great). Got checked in no problem. SFO’s Terminal 1 is by far better than San Diego’s. I settled in at a Chinese place with a good people-watching vantage. Ordered mimosas and a side of fried rice, which turned out to be a LOT of food.

Red Rubber Rex approves!

Flight home was packed to the gills again. We left 20 minutes late, but drinks were NOT free this time! Oh well, it got me back in one piece, and I didn’t have to get diverted to LAX or Las Vegas, thank god.

Rich picked me up and we booked it home – just missing the start of rush-hour traffic. Arrived home to find a big Styrofoam box on the porch filled with Omaha Steaks on dry ice – Rich’s & my birthday gift from my mom. Of course, it had to sit and wait while poor Cisco lost his sweet little mind greeting me:

“Ooh, and you brought lots of smells!” He was happy and I was tired.

Not much of a souvenir haul this trip. I got a t-shirt from MOMA:

I love all the detail, all the recognizable SF landmarks.

There’s my fortune and the Laughing Sal penny from Musee Mecanique:

I got a couple of lottery tickets at Tim’s recommendation – “It’s good luck to play the lottery while on vacation!”

I still haven’t checked to see if they’re winners.

The pamphlet from Emperor Norton:

And these three darling pop-up greeting cards. One each went to Tim & Alex and Jonetta & Bill, and the dog one I’m saving for later.

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Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge was on the plan, but just didn’t happen. It’s funny, this was the one thing my mom was most worried about, that I’d get mugged or hit by a car or blown off the side or something. Not standing on dimly-lit subway platforms, not my plane going down, but the bridge, LOL. She was relieved to hear that we didn’t find time for it.

Thanks for everything, Tim & Alex! I had an amazing time. Love you!

Check out the first two San Francisco Travelogues: 2015 and 2016

Day 5: Sunday, April 29, 2018

I slept in until 9:30 in the morning after being up so late the night before. I had a pint carton of Blue Bottle coffee from the fridge, and when Tim woke up we went to Gus’s. I got a fresh-squeezed orange juice, and it was like the best thing I’ve ever tasted.

Ahhh. Just what the doctor ordered.

BTW, Alex wasn’t able to join us for nearly anything because he was working every day from noon to 9:00 p.m. Missed you!

The plan was to go to a political fund-raiser with Tim, who hates to do these things alone, and it was good for his business to make an appearance. He assured me there’d be food and we wouldn’t have to stay long. It was for one of Tim’s clients, a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Gayle McLaughlin, a former mayor and city council member of Richmond. There was food, but nothing I really wanted. Chips and salsa, carrots and onion dip, a side of salmon, a pot of homemade chili. White wine on the patio outside, but only three bottles for a crowd of 30+odd people, and it was nearly gone. I was lucky to get a bit.

I just grazed the chips and carrots.

Before Gayle spoke, though, this lady got up and sang a couple of never-ending folk songs.

Her voice was alright, and it must be SO hard to stand up in front of a bunch of people and sing a capella, but as a founding member of Julian Indivisible, I’ve gone to a LOT of political meetings, and there’s never been SINGING.

I couldn’t believe it. Tim coaxed me into the kitchen where he apologized profusely and I hissed at him under my breath, “Singing? Seriously? Singing?”

Gayle speaking. She did a great job. I really have nothing but admiration for people who run for office. It’s gotta be brutal. I voted for her.

Tim designed her campaign poster.

As soon as she was done and an endless question-and-answer period was over, we bailed. Here’s the amazing view from the host’s home:

If you craned your neck, you could just barely see the tops of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.

Got some good coffee on our way to the train station. Next stop: downtown to see the Palace Hotel. There’s a painting by one of my favorite artists, Maxfield Parrish, in their Pied Piper Bar & Grill. It was commissioned by the hotel when it re-opened in 1909. Originally established in 1875, the Palace is also famous for inventing Green Goddess salad dressing in 1923 in honor of William Archer’s hit play. I’ve never seen a Maxfield Parrish painting in person, so this was a destination.

Outside Ghirardelli’s next door to the hotel, we spotted the reincarnation of Emperor Norton I in his ridiculous get-up. The original Emperor Norton was a local celebrity and madman adopted by the city in the 19th century – he was the first to propose the Bay Bridge decades before it was built. This current version of Emperor Norton was expounding on some topic before a small crowd of onlookers.

The inside of the Palace was breathtaking.

Uh oh, the riff-raff have arrived!

Unfortunately, the Pied Piper didn’t open until 4:00 p.m. What is the deal with 4:00 p.m. in this town anyway? I just assumed they’d be open for lunch. My bad. It was only 1:30 at that time, but a helpful staffer suggested that if we ask the concierge nicely, they might let us in to see the painting. And that’s exactly what happened.

For about 10 minutes, we got to have the place to ourselves.

The painting was bigger than I’d imagined. Maxfield Parrish himself served as the model for the Pied Piper, his wife was the model for the lady in the red tunic and white cap, and his son was the model for the urchin in green. Absolutely stunning. Worth the trip.

The concierge was nice enough to take a picture of us both.

It was hard to photograph because it’s so long. Here’s a better photo off the net:

I’d really wanted to sit at the bar and gaze at the painting for a couple of drinks, but oh well.

We wandered into the main lounge. This is luxury on a scale like no other.

Beautiful. Classy. Elegant. I couldn’t afford to stay here in a million years.

Relaxing tunes tinkling on the grand piano.

Unfortunately, we were too late for brunch, so we just sat and chilled for a few minutes.

Sitting in one of two golden thrones in the lobby:

Headed home and went to this great old bar right around the corner called Zam Zam. According to Zagat, “The martini is still king at this slightly spendy, cash-only Upper Haight institution where the elegant curved bar, vintage cash register, and gorgeous mural remind you of how a bar should be; though many miss Bruno, the long-deceased bartender who gave a lot of people the boot for obscure infractions, most agree it has an improved vibe under his successors, who shake a multitude of classic cocktails while the jukebox churns out old jazz standards.”

I got a Lemon Drop and Tim got another Sidecar. He’d just brushed his teeth, so the citrus in the cocktail tasted weird until it washed out. My Lemon Drop could have been sweeter. Second round, we both got Sidecars. They’re just SO good. Got into a conversation with two young women next to us about George Glass, Jan’s made-up boyfriend on The Brady Bunch. They were big fans.

Tim had asked me to sign his copy of my first book, and now I had my inspiration for something clever: “To George Glass, the nicest boy in school. Love, Jan.”

Because the bar is curved, it’s possible for everyone to converse with each other.

Cool place. It’s easy to miss from the street.

By then we were both starved, having not eaten much of the food on offer at the fund-raiser. I kept offering to help, but Tim whipped up a Munchery meal of steak on a bed of greens with a garlic/ginger sauce. The steak was so tender it was like butter. We watched more episodes of Legion and American Gods before retiring. I packed and went to bed relatively early.

Flying home tomorrow!

**Last post: Day 6 – Cancelled flight, Mimosas & Fried Rice, Reunion with Cisco, Souvenirs

Day 4: Saturday, April 28, 2018 (continued)

Tim & I arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf and the place was slammed. This guy was playing “statue” for tips. We have a guy in San Diego who does this same thing, only with a silver suit.

When he *does* move, little kids and adults alike are startled.

We had a blast exploring the Musee Mecanique. It’s an interactive museum in an old warehouse full of 20th-century penny arcade games and artifacts. Admission is free, and most of the games cost only one or two quarters.

A steam-powered motorcycle!

Love Tester:

I got “frigid.” LOL

We took turns sitting in the “Magic Chair.”

Check out the STINK EYE that little girl is giving me!

There were several Player Pianos and Wurlitzer Automatic Bands:

Fortune Tellers:

My fortune!

There are plenty of these really old flip-card viewers:

Some showed 3-D pictures of the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake and fires.

Some were “X Rated” – basically girls posing in their negligees. Pretty tame by today’s standards.

A number of these enormous tableau:

Wooden dancing men in the “Thimble Theater”:

Some were quite dark, like this English Execution:

Or this French Execution:

I’d heard there was also an Opium Den, but we didn’t see it. Bummer.

There’s “Laughing Sal,” a creepy life-size laughing doll near the entrance:

They had plenty of Penny Press machines, but all with SF images like the Golden Gate Bridge or Fisherman’s Wharf on them. When I saw a Laughing Sal penny press, I had to get one:

All sorts of fun stuff. Bell-Tolling Monks:

The Drunkard’s Dream:

A Mechanical Carnival (too bad the roller coaster wasn’t working):

Sleepless Father with Crying Baby:

“Last Stand”:

Lots and lots of fun.

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From Fisherman’s Wharf, it was a short walk to the bottom of the curvy part of Lombard Street. On the way, I spotted this cable car bus full of Furries, having a grand time:

Getting to Lombard involved some SERIOUS hill-climbing. You can hear me on this video still catching my breath. I was surprised to see cars snaking down Lombard – I’d thought they closed it to non-resident vehicles on the weekends, but apparently not. ALso got some nice shots of Coit Tower and a lovely hillside garden.

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Took an Uber home. Spotted this cool house on the way:

I loved the copper onion domes.

Rested for a while before heading over to a dinner party at Tim & Alex’s neighbors Jonetta and Bill’s lovely home. Next door was another of Tim’s HOPIs:

Ooh, PURPLE.

We had a marvelous time. Jonetta is an educator and Bill is a defense attorney who does work for the Innocence Project. First we had martinis and appetizers upstairs in their sunroom while watching the sunset. We had spicy shrimp skewers, brie cheese with cranberries and crackers, and chips with some delicious poke. Johnny Cash crooned on the stereo, covering “Desperado” and “Oh Danny Boy.” Xena and their two dogs dozed at our feet.

Early in the evening, Jonetta had my name as “Samantha” for some reason. We cleared up the confusion when Bill came in, but for the rest of the night, “Samantha” became my alter ego. Bill asked if I wanted my martini strong (because Tim’s wasn’t, the lightweight) and Tim said, “Oh, Sammy likes her drinks REAL STRONG!” and I’d chime in with, “But not Kim, she’s not like that BITCH Samantha.” Like that. It was funny.

Then we got down to dinner. Some of it was Munchery food. We had stuffed artichokes with homemade aioli sauce, a salad made from those lovely greens from the farmer’s market, Kobe steak, roasted Brussels sprouts, marinated salmon, plus a Gewürztraminer and two different red wines to wash it all down.

For dessert, we had a selection of brownies, cheesecakes, carrot cake, and more of those macarons, plus more brie with crackers and fig jam.

OMG OMG OMG

By the time we left, it was well after 1:00 a.m. After I’d gotten ready for bed, it was 2:00 a.m. I haven’t stayed up that late in forever. Great time.

**Next post: Day 5 – Fund Raiser, Palace Hotel, Zam Zam

 

Day 4: Saturday, April 28, 2018

Started out the morning with a walk to Gus’s Market for coffee, then we took the dogs to Golden Gate Park’s panhandle to do their business. Tim pointed out HOPI’s (homes of particular interest) like this one. There are so many details and gewgaws on this house it’s like a painted lady. Needs a powerwash, though, to get all the dust and soot off:

And this one, all done up in my favorite colors:

I spotted this tai chi class underway, and noted that, just like in all the best real-world YouTube videos, the badass kung fu master is wearing a dress shirt, dress pants with a belt, and street shoes. Like, office attire. Well, here it is!

Hit the post office on the way back to mail my postcards. Back at home I found Moby like this, poor thing helplessly trapped under some extremely heavy pillows: 

Then we took an Uber to the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. It took FOREVER because we got caught up in baseball game traffic. We wanted to hit their epic farmer’s market and get something to bring to the dinner party that evening at Tim & Alex’s friends’ house.

BTW, Sinbad’s is GONE. Only some pilings and an earth-mover are where it used to be.

The Ferry Building was so crowded you could hardly turn around. First priority, getting some coffee at Blue Bottle Coffee, which Tim insists is the best. He got a pound of decaf to bring home, too.

Then we wandered about as we sipped our strong Gibraltars. The idea had been floated about getting some oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co., but the line to get in was RIDICULOUS. Forget that noise. More wandering. Farmer’s market stuff, all incredible. Found this guy selling crates full of the widest variety of greens – there must have been at least a couple of dozen. We got a bag full of all sorts of stuff – mustard greens, a new sort of cress, arugula, and more – even a few bunches of edible flowers thrown in for free.

Nice guy.

Next we caught the F-line streetcar going along the Embarcadero. It was one of those old-timey 50s style electric-cable buses:

Destination: the stop for the Alcatraz Landing, directly across the street from which is Hillstone restaurant. I’d been wanting to treat Tim to this place ever since Bon Appetit wrote a glowing article (love letter) about the chain. Apparently, the food is so good and so consistent, and the service so impeccable, that the chain has gotten the magazine’s unending admiration.

First thing I noticed was this gorgeous tabletop sculpture of an otter.

First thing Tim noticed was the dress code, which, while lenient toward the weekend tourist crowd’s typical attire, did mention “No Hats.” Luckily, he whipped off his sun visor before having to be asked to do so. #EmbarrassmentAverted

The second thing I noticed was half a dozen of Louis Poulsen’s iconic “Artichoke” lampshades. I worked in an architecture firm for 10 years and managed the reference library, and I used to drool over the Louis Poulsen catalog. These things are EXPENSIVE, folks. Like $7,000 to $12,000 apiece. Hillstone features a famous roasted artichoke dish, so they figured it’d be a clever match.

Tim ordered their ubiquitous cheeseburger with fries, and I got a (small) glass of champagne and the smoked salmon appetizer. One of the many nice touches at Hillstone: the napkins come with a buttonhole so one can pin it to one’s shirt:

Tim’s cheeseburger looked amazing:

So tall it’s like a Dagwood.

And my smoked fish was to DIE for. Came with some creamy herb dressing and grilled buttered garlic toast points which our charming British waiter Alec assured me could be replenished if needed, since I’d mentioned that that would be my meal.

OMG OMG OMG

It was a HUGE piece of fish for an appetizer, and it’s smoked in-house in small batches. You could smell the smoke before it was even in your mouth. So tender it was like butter. Shared with Tim but we still brought some home.

Outside, we stopped to take pictures of this unusual sculpture of a cowboy riding a bucking… fish.

Picked up the F-line again to Fisherman’s Wharf. Destination: the Musee Mecanique, a big warehouse filled with hundreds of old-timey arcade games, many of which are over a hundred years old.

**Next post: Day 4 (Part 2) – Musee Mecanique, Lombard Street, Dinner party

Day 3: Friday, April 27, 2018 (Continued)

Erik told me about this amazing bar at the top of the Marriott nearby and that I should check it out if I felt like a cocktail (uh, have we met?) later. I got there and asked an impressively-attired liveried doorman in a top hat about it, but he said it wasn’t open until 4:00. I checked my watch – only 2:30. I didn’t feel like sticking around for an hour and a half just for that, so I headed home on the train. But it’s called the View Lounge, and it looks absolutely incredible:

Maybe next time.

On the train platform, a foreign traveler approached me. She wasn’t sure which train to take. I started to explain that I didn’t live there, and she made to walk away, so I stopped her, “But I still might be able to help!” She showed me the text message from her friend, who’d said she could take any one of 4 trains to get to Church street, just four stops away. One of the trains was sitting right there, but she and her companion were reluctant to jump on just yet. Finally she understood, we confirmed she was on the right side of the platform, and all she had to do was wait for one of those 4 trains, the L, K, M, or T to come along. Then my N train arrived and I had to leave. Nice to be able to help someone who’s even more of a newbie than me!

Back home, I popped into Hobson’s Choice rum punch bar around the corner for a cocktail. Their punches are pretty tame, so I added an extra shot for only another buck. It’s a great neighborhood bar. On their website: “During the eighteenth century, Rum became England’s most popular spirit. As Rum was brought back from the new colonies, the British realized its inherent appeal and ability to be mixed into fantastic concoctions known as punch. By the end of the century, in almost every living room, inn, or pub, a punch bowl appeared. Thus blossomed ‘Punch Houses.’ They were relaxing environments, plentiful of couches, colors, and Victorian flair.”

Arrr, grog!

Before dinner, I filled out my postcards. I’d brought 5 postcard stamps along, but had to go to the post office to get postage for Australia. (Did it arrive yet, Inga?)

Tim & I took an Uber to the Castro District. First we stopped in at the famous, historic Twin Peaks Tavern. It was one of the first gay bars anywhere where people displaying affection to one another did so in full view behind their enormous plate-glass windows, as opposed to hiding in some dank basement bar or windowless dive.

Tim placing our order.

They have a cool little loft, too.

I ordered a Negroni, just because I’ve never tried one before. Tim got a Sidecar, saying, “I just read about this drink in a great book…” The Negroni was okay, I didn’t hate it, but I’ll probably not get them again.

Second round, I got a Sidecar (they ARE so good). The bartender filled it so full I had to take a sip before I could pick it up:

New profile pic!

Great people-watching there:

Red Rubber Rex finds the Castro fascinating!

Great painting of the tavern:

Tim went out and got a pic of me and the bartender from outside. Pretty cool double image, eh?

From there, we headed over to Super Duper Burgers for dinner. They’re said to be even better than In-N-Out Burgers. I got a Mini Burger with cheese and bacon and a side of garlic fries. SO good.

Great people-watching from here, too.

I need to find someone who makes sugar-free ice cream!

In the evening, we watched the 2nd episode of Legion, followed by the 4th episode of American Gods, while eating the most amazing macarons from Munchery.

**Next Post: Day 4 (Part 1) – Ferry Building, Hillstone Restaurant

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