San Francisco Part 2: SFMoma, Sausalito and the Ice Cream Museum

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On my second day in San Francisco I decided to go to SFMOMA. I’m not really a museum person but I want to be. Sometimes I get overloaded on art, kind of like hanging out on Pinterest all day and before you know it you have no motivation to be creative at all because everybody else is way more creative than you’ll ever be. I almost do better in a vacuum. BUT! I do love art so off to the art museum I did go!

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I paid an extra ten bucks to see the Warhol exhibit and I’m glad I did. I’m not a super fan or anything but I learned a lot about him and found myself relating  to him. That’s always a good thing. Andy Warhol was a graphic artist first, like me. I can see that now but I never knew that before. He also was super awkward and decided to flaunt his flaws instead of try to cover them up. That’s something I could learn a lot from.

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People feel conflicted about him and I can definitely see why (borrowing others’ talent to stay relevant etc…) but I cannot NOT love the floating helium pillows room. I mean, come on. Is that not the most brilliant thing ever and he did it way back in the 60s! I think we need more floating helium balloon rooms… too bad helium is going extinct. I wonder what it will be like when helium balloons no longer exist. That will be a sad sad day.

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I wandered around listening to my headphones about his life and funny quotes performed by an actor pretending to be him. It’s really nice to go to a museum by yourself because you can take as long or as little time as you like. Sometimes I went fast, sometimes I went backwards and looked at things more than once.

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But what I really like is watching people at a museum. I could could make a coffee table book of photos of people staring and interacting with art but I’m not sure anybody would actually have time to look my book if I made it. There is just so much to look at these days. I miss being bored. Is that what growing up is? Not ever being bored anymore?

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It was pleasant. Lots of clean lines and open space. Everything feeling very peaceful and zen. Maybe too zen.

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I pondered and took pictures of my favorite pieces. I wandered. Then an instagram friend suggested I visit the fifth floor for a coffee and a sweet. Once that idea was in my head I had to head straight there of course!

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There nothing nicer than sitting outside by yourself on a perfectly sunny day with a perfectly aesthetically-pleasing coffee and a pastry. Well, maybe all that AND a friend to chat with but then you are so busy talking, you gobble down your snack too fast and you don’t get as much time to watch the people around you in the courtyard. I guess I do love being alone sometimes.

Before I knew it Payam was pinging me saying his work day was over so we met up and headed off on some touring together. We decided to take the car out of super expensive valet parking and see some further away sites. Starting at Lombard street of course.

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Man, what a crowded mess that street is with all the tourists. It was fun poking down the hill with the rest of the cars but there were no good angles to take pictures without getting out of the car and that was impossible too because parking was non-existent. I didn’t care that much since I’ve been there before but it was fun to go just to say we did.

Then we headed to the Gold Gate Bridge. Le sigh…

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We took an early exit and discovered The Presidio. I think I’ve been here when I was a kid but I don’t remember it clearly at all. I didn’t know there were so many bunkers and hideouts to explore. I would have loved to explore more if it wasn’t so freakishly freezing cold. Why is San Francisco so arctic all the time? Thankfully I’ve been to this rodeo before so I know not to pack summer clothes in the summer but still, man, it’s just COLD.  I had to wrap up in a blanket that we keep in the car for picnics just not to go crazy.

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We walked and talked and chattered our teeth.

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I found this new suicide prevention construction really sad. I’m glad they are doing it to save lives but it just makes me even more sad that so many people are that sad. I’ve had suicidal thoughts myself before so I cannot judge. It can happen to anyone.

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Then we ran back to our car and warmed up. Brrrrr! It was freezing. Seems nice now that I’m back home in 83 degree weather but at the time it was not. Southern Califorians are such pansies.

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Payam wanted to show me the neighborhood he lived in when he first came to this country. He was born in Iran but came to the US when he was three. They lived in Tiburon and it was nice! We definitely did not grow up on the same side of the tracks, me and him. I couldn’t really see his house because you can only see the garage from the street so I didn’t take any pictures. But everything seemed really pretty and right by the water. Great views all around.

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Slowly, Karl, the fog made his way over to this side of the bay and we decided we better head back to our hotel before we froze to death. Just kidding. We are wimps.

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The next day I had tickets to the Museum of Ice Cream. I know I told you I was officially done with pop-up museums but this one was literally just down the street from us so I forced Payam to go with me. And guess what? It is probably the best one I have been to! I mean, yes, I am Over them with a capital O and I don’t need to ever go to one again but this one was really really cute. If you have kids I say definitely take them. If you are just trying to make your instagram feed more colorful then you’ll feel very unoriginal. Pop-up museums are so 2016. (Queue eye roll as If I know anything about anything.)

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It was just super sweet and cute. They called us campers and we tried camping related treats… s’more ice cream, orange-cicle frozen pies… It was adorable and fun.

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And you know what I love about Payam? He acted like a kid and had fun too. We can all be child-like more often I think. Right? Why take everything so seriously?

Do you know what Payam screams for? Kale. Screams in fear or anticipation of a tasty treat? Both I think.

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We interacted. We went the distance. We slapped robot hands and dove into a pool of sprinkles. And then we exited through the gift shop and bought pink plastic magnetic letters like the big fat consumeristic suckers we are.

Yay summer vacation!

Most of all we missed the girls. They would have loved it. Or not. They might have just rolled their eyes.

 

Tagging Along on a Business Trip turns into Solo Adventurista Extravaganza

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If you play along with me on Instagram you already know more about this trip than you probably wanted to. I posted so much (every single moment according to my brother-in-law) that I lost followers. But you know what? I don’t even care.  I mean, I do a little bit but I’m thinking it’s worth the loss. I had so much fun I think I found my new calling: Solo Adventurer! I get to go wherever I want at my own pace and nobody ever complains! Not that I hang around with a bunch of complainers, I don’t, but I do worry about pushing people to walk too much or worry that they might not want to stop and take pictures as much as I do or pull me into shopping when I really can’t afford it etc etc etc.  So this trip was just  me and my instagram friends and not a care in the world… I was so happy.

Why did I find myself traveling solo in San Francisco? Payam had to go on a quick three-day business trip and I tagged along. It was perfect for me. There I was plopped down right in the middle of the city in a hotel I probably would have never picked with plenty of time on my hands and nothing scheduled. I had worked really hard the week before to make sure I had a backload of posts done and caught up on all my freelance projects (except maybe one) so that I really didn’t have to stress about work (though I did write a bit from the comfort of the hotel room).

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I walked with Payam to his office and then stopped in a cafe for breakfast and to plot my route. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money so I pulled up yelp and looked up “local flavor” and right away fifty fun free things popped up. There were so many things to do I didn’t know what to do first. Seriously, I could have just explored one block and it could have taken up my whole day.

I’m so tired of walking around my neighborhood back home. I’ve exhausted everything within a five mile radius. I tried to pull up “local flavor” in my neighborhood back home and the only thing that came up was a footbridge that I’ve walked on a thousand times. Not *my footbridge* but another one that is pretty much just as boring.

So you can see why San Francisco makes my heart sing. It is NOT anything like Irvine.

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This is my route, roughly.

  1. Union Square – Maiden Lane
  2. The Embarcadero
  3. The Exploratorium
  4. The Filbert Street Stairs
  5. St. Peter and Paul Church in North Beach
  6. Tony’s Napolatana Pizza
  7. City Lights Bookstore
  8. Chinatown
  9. The Stocton Street Tunnel

But really my plan was to find some cool stairs. I had a bunch of other ideas (yelp collection here) but the Filbert Street stairs and City Lights Bookstore were my musts. I used to live in the Bay Area so I’ve been to Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown dozens of times. I really wanted to stay off the beaten path. Or try to anyway.

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I started in Union Square because that’s where our hotel was. We were staying at the Kimpton St. Francis. I feel like it used to look different but San Francisco has changed so much since I lived in the Bay Area I barely know anything about anything anymore. I spent New Year’s at Union Square once back in the 90’s. Lots of good memories.

I wandered down Maiden Lane towards the Embarcadero and some pop-up business was throwing a Christmas in July party. I got a peppermint cupcake for free which was really odd and cool. Not a bad start to my adventure.

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Then I picked up a Rose flavored chai tea and admired this crazy water sculpture.

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I stopped for a few minutes to look at the Vaillancourt Fountain. It’s so ugly and cool at the same time. I remember an old friend telling me that U2 threw a free concert here once. That must have been amazing. Next I wandered along the water, pondered the homeless, dodged a few skaters, watched tourists and enjoyed the water lapping up against piers that were not number 39.

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I didn’t go into the Exploratorium but I did check out the free exhibits outside and I breezed thought the gift shop. Gift shops are great Cliff Notes to what’s in the museum.

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I swear I walked down John Mayer alley or Jason Mraz or something like that but I cannot find it on a map anywhere. I wish I had take a photo of the sign. Does he live here? Are these lofts owned by him? I had so many questions.

After that alley I found the stairs. They say athletes use these stairs to train for endurance races and I can see why. They are steep and plentiful! But such a pleasant way to climb stairs! Really, my favorite way to climb. There are gardens and nooks, flowers and trees, shade and birds… it was just lovely.

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That’s the view looking back at the Bay Bridge and stairs. Stairs and more stairs…

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But see what I mean about the gardens? San Francisco is such a different climate than my desert back home. There are plants growing here that I have never seen before.

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Stairs and more stairs. I took my time and let the peace and quiet really sink in. I imagined what it would be like to live here. Lots of people do and their houses look amazing. So cute and quaint and tucked away into the hillside in little pocket neighborhoods. I wish it wasn’t so expensive to live here.

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Finally I made it to the top. I didn’t bother to go up into Coit Tower because there were lines. I seem to have made it a tradition to go see monuments but never actually go up in them. I didn’t go all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty so maybe that’s my thing. I used to regret it but after I’ve waited in a line for three hours in a small sweaty space I think I’m okay with just gazing at them from below.

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I still had a great view.

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Then I walked back down the other side of the hill into North Beach. I love exploring neighborhoods and seeing what the locals see.

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I popped into a church just for fun. Since my Italy days were filled with exploring churches, I figured I should keep it going. Churches are so quiet and beautiful. I’m not Catholic at all but I’m coming to appreciate the sense of awe the architecture and artworks inspire. I challenge myself to sit for a minute or two in a pew and just look at everything and not fidget with my phone. It’s difficult but I like it. I think we all need these quiet moments to stay sane.

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Then I wandered around North Beach. It was probably around two so a piece of pizza was starting to sound good.

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These little shops totally reminded me of Italy. I didn’t need to buy anything because I’ve already shopped enough when I was in Italy but it was fun to admire all the packaging and old world designs.

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I did find a pizza- by-the slice place and it was the best piece of pepperoni pizza I have ever eaten! I don’t know if it was the San Franciscan take on the crust (it tasted a bit sourdough) or the fact that I was hungry from walking so much but it was amazing and I ate the whole slice that was about the size of half of a large pizza. It was so good. I was not embarrassed to sit there all by myself and gobble the whole thing up at all, it was so good.

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After lunch I kept walking…taking a photo here and there.

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There was this colorful old lady sitting on a chair outside a tiny little doorstep garage sale of junk. She was so interesting with her white hair, scarf and reading a book that I took a photo of her from the hip. That’s why she’s totally cut off. I didn’t want her to know I was taking the photo. I was going to toss the picture but I think it’s still interesting. Maybe even more so.

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I stopped into this tiny studio/shop/gallery of “Supersonic Modern art” by Michael Murphy. I had never heard of him before but I immediately became a fan. Super cool modern architecture paintings with funky cars… Someday when I’m rich and famous maybe I’ll buy one.

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Then off to City Lights Booksellers. I hadn’t been here since the 90’s. It was surreal to be back.

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I bought a few books and wandered around enjoying the mystique of it all.

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By then it was getting time to get back to the hotel because Payam had an event that I was allowed to attend so I hightailed it through Chinatown. I found the the fortune cookie factory. It had a line around the block, of course.  It’s nothing like I remember, with all the darkness and danger of the Chinese mobsters playing cards in greasy back kitchens. Now it’s an instagram experience with tourists galore.

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I walked through the Stockton Street Tunnel and back to Union Square!

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Not a bad way to get in your steps! I must have logged 20K.

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Here’s a view that night of Karl the Fog from our hotel room. Goodnight SF!

Next up: SFMOMA, The Ice Cream Museum, The Presidio and Sausalito!