Saturday, 4 September 2010

San Fran!

Hey, hey, hey folks. I'm back!

I've been back in Blighty a few weeks actually but, as per usual, it's taken me a while to get my sh*t together. Apologies. I also returned to work a couple of weeks ago which was a bit of a shock to the system after my extended hiatus, but I guess I'm kind of getting used to it now. Anyway I had a fantastic time in San Francisco and LA and would like to show you the pictorial evidence...To tell the truth I took an absolute ton of photos and it's been quite hard deciding which ones to select. I'm going to put up a few posts on various places and locations we visited a bit at a time, seems the best way...

As said we had an amazing time and I would wholeheartedly recommend San Fran as a place to visit. LA was a different story - still good to see and with some worthy aspects but an altogether difference experience to SF - all those things you've heard about it being kind of vacuous and soulless do appear to be true and Dionne Warwick was pretty spot-on when she said "LA is a great big freeway". SF by contrast has a lot more character and eccentricity (reflected in the city's inhabitants as well as architecture and surroundings) and if I had to choose a place to live in the US, SF would definitely be the one for me.

Anyway here's the first batch of piccies and I shall attempt a commentary in places...

The Castro, in case you've never heard of it, is the number one GAY district of San Francisco and in fact one of the gayest areas I've ever visited in any city! I'd venture to say more so than Soho in London or Manchester, Amsterdam and Paris. Strictly speaking it's not the only gay area in SF - there are other places like SOMA but this district had the biggest proliferation of gay bars, clubs, restaurants and shops that I'd ever seen. Another thing of note is the wide ethnic mix amongst the gays and lesbians in SF - more than other cities it seems - lots of Asians, Blacks and Hispanics, which I think is great. I also noticed that quite a lot of the lesbians and gentleman in San Fran dress quite alternatively - more funky and retro in style than the usual cropped t-shirts and jeans that UK fags so often sport, which is refreshing...Anyhow we loved most of the bars that we visited. One other point of note is that the gays and lesbians in SF seem much more integrated into the city and to the "straights" it's not such a big deal - we spotted quite a few couples walking around holding hands, even in the "non-gay" areas, which was cool!

This is the lobby of the first hotel we stayed in - very nice place indeed and very central, only a few blocks away from Union Square. The hotel also had free wine from 5-6pm which we took advantage of!

When looking out of our hotel window, this was the view we were presented with ... a wacky and way-out mural, man.

Union Square, which is the focal point of Downtown SF.

Loved the big heart sculptures!

Macy's, which we visited on a couple of occasions. In fact we did tons of shopping and I came back home with a big fat overdraft. One of my justifications for spending so much is that you get more US dollars to the pound and thus most things over there are comparatively cheaper. For instance, after a recent "moaning about my age" post, I invested in not just one but four pots of "Dramatically Different" Clinique moisturiser, purchased in Macy's and recommended to me by a fellow blogger - thanks, Barry! Each pot worked out to only about £16, a bit of a bargain to say the least! Clinique products in the UK cost a bomb. So worth it, eh? In general I was impressed with the shops in SF - they've got Gap, H&M, even Body Shop but there's loads of other good places too.

Gustavo couldn't resist posing outside "Victoria's Secret"...

And now for some more San Fran scenery and architecture...This place made me think of 23 Barbary Lane, from Armistead Maupin's wonderful "Tales of the City" series i.e. this is how I imagined the place might be, with it's windy staircase on the outside. Very quaint!

Typical street view looking down a hill. Yes SF is very steep in places. In spite of the fact that the US is one of the most obese nations in the world, I didn't actually see many fat people around, but given the amount of hill climbing people in SF must have to do, it's little wonder...

And look at the car parking! I have to say, having to park one's vehicle in this fashion would really scare me. Or rather, starting up your car and moving off without sliding down the hill!

One of the famous cable cars of San Fran. They're so cute and extremely popular with the tourists. What I couldn't work out to begin with was why they are called "cable cars" when they're clearly not the type that hang from the sky. However I found out later. Any ideas, folks?

On one of our first days we took a cable car ride up to Fisherman's Wharf and whilst queuing were kept entertained by this sax-playing dude...

Later on I encountered this diva-esque lady in a shop window...very Scissor Sisters! Loved it!

More houses...

We also had breakfast/brunch one day in a typical American diner, with some great paraphenelia...

And now for a food intermission. Here's me eating eggs benedict - which was sooo yummy and I ended up plumping for this dish on a few occasions! Whilst on the subject of food, you've probably heard that the portions of food served up in US eateries are enormous - and it's true. You get far more to munch on than in the UK. I thought this would only apply to your typical fast food, burger-and-chips type meals, but NO!! Wherever we went, whatever type of cuisine we went for ... our plates were always full to the brim... be that Thai, Italian etc. Often delicious food but too much to stomach and when you didn't finish everything on your plate the waiting staff would sometimes get offended, or at the very least act like there was something wrong with you. "Whaaat? You don't wanna order deseeert?" Sorry!

Another example of brunch - a bagel with turkey, egg and cheese inside. Yummy but plenty of calories in there! I definitely came back from my excursion fatter. What would have happened if I'd been there 6 months?

This was the view from the second hotel we stayed in in San Fran! Great view though I did get distinct feelings of vertigo when I stepped right up to our room window:

Gustavo being all artsy looking down at the view...

Coming soon: The Golden Gate! Alcatraz! The Painted Ladies! And more besides...

Oh and how could I forget: meeting Matty!! Yeehaa!!


  1. Have I missed something? Have you been anywhere nice?


    It all looks amazing and it's plain you enjoyed every minute of it. Lucky you! Big question: is it nice to be home again?

  2. Steve - In answer to your questions:

    No, nowhere nice atall.

    No, it's not so nice to be back.

    Which means that both answers kind of contradict one another...

  3. Lovely, clearly you had a great time! I think you were overawed by all the glitter and swank but since it was your first time that's forgiven.

    Aren't the houses amazing? And did you venture into the hinterland and up and down the coast?

  4. i can't wait to meet Matty, i hope i get a chance to see him!

    I remember my first time in San Francisco and being blown away by its fabulous gayness! Even the DJ on the radio was gay, it was amazing! It was almost weird to run into a straight person. It was like, "Oh you're straight?! How strange!"

    I love how you don't have those American style diners in the UK and it's like a sort of novelty for you!!

  5. Barry - Overawed? Moi? Well, maybe a bit...actually it wasn't all glittery and we did venture into some run-down one point a homeless women came up and grabbed my coat! Fortunately we made a quick exit...

    We did the coastal route drive down to LA and I shall put some pics up of that in due course...there were lots of other nearby places to visit like Berkley but we just didn't have the time...

    Alan - Yes, drop him a line, or perhaps you have already! He really is lovely and I'm sure you'll have a good time together...

    I know what you mean, gay people seemed more visible there to me than other places - quite a lot of couples openly holding hands when walking down the street which didn't seem to cause any problems. That's not to say they could do it EVERYWHERE but the impression I got was that gay and lebsian people were more integrated and accepted there.

    Actually we do have "Old Orleans" and some shopping centre here have rather Americanised type eateries, to tell the truth...slightly, erm, tacky...I'm such a snob...

  6. Fantastic pictures| SF is my favourite place, ever.

  7. Fab time you had, and thanks for the memories. I ate at that same restaurant when I was there! Yes!!! Matty looks in fine form too.
    When I was there we had a cab ride from a lovely but crazy old Irishman, it was a blasyt and he drove like a crazy man down the street used in the car chase scene from Bullit (steve mcqueen movie). To this day I remember that!
    Sorry I'm late commenting, have had a bit of a shake up down here.