Everybody I’ve ever met that’s been here has fallen in love with this relaxed, fun city – and I was no exception. How easy is it to fall for a place that’s just so pretty, so laid back, with so many interesting areas to wander, have coffee and just simply hang out and soak up the atmosphere.
And in SF the atmosphere just oozes out – The people, the buildings, the history, the amazing arts scene, so much character, and no one seems to be trying at all. There just seems to be some sort weird thing in the water that makes things seem cool – In fact I felt so much cooler just being here!
The coolness factor is pretty visible when you take a wander through the amazing array of distinct neighbourhoods. This range seems to give this actually pretty small city a sense of proportion way bigger than it is. As you turn a corner and move from the bland modern functionality of Union square to the hyperactivity of Chinatown, then to the cafes and boutiques of North Beach its like moving from one completely different city to another. The rejuvenated old piers and ferry buildings of the waterfront seemingly have relation to the wooden Victorian town houses of the Upper Haight, where hippie culture still lives strong on the corner of Haight and Ashbury – albeit next to Ben and Jerry’s! (The clock on this corner has stopped at 4.20pm for a long time, i wonder why?). But something, just like the streetcars and cablecars binds and unifies the neighbourhoods of this diverse city.
But its not just the pretty streets or the cool inhabitants that make this place, the romantic movie made notion of SF runs deep in anybody with any interest in American counter culture, and for me two of my favourite cultural highlightsof the last century happened here – This was the favourite haunt of beat writers like Kerouac, Burroughs and Ginsberg, who drank in dive bars playing jazz, writing poetry and books like ‘on the road’; And also where the summer of love kick started a worldwide hippie phenomenon. I got such a buzz being able to drink in a bar that a hero of mine like Jack Kerouac used to drink, or to hang out in bars along the Haight.
And then there’s the food – really this deserves a whole post on its own (and many people have devoted there life to writing about the food here). So much good food, on every corner something different – a quirky place selling coffee and hand made croissants so flaky people in Paris would be proud, Italian bakeries selling fresh focaccia, Chinese restaurants where even the waitress doesn’t know when the meal will end, Northern Californian Italian places where the food makes you speechless, gastropubs making sausages that pair with incredible brews made in the basement. The list goes on…and on – and all this made with some of the best local produce found anywhere on the planet. It would take years of hard work to really get on top of the food scene here. I’d relish an opportunity to try.