Before last week, I had only been to San Francisco once. I was eight years old and other than riding the boat to Alcatraz, my giddiest recollection was an elderly man named Ed handing me a $10 bill at a diner. This time around, I did all of the things I couldn’t get away with when I was in the single digits, like ride public transportation by myself, drink beer, and stay up past 9:00.
I met some friends at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where we explored colorful explosions of paint, sculpture, film, and photography. It’s true: San Francisco extends an open invitation to eat adventurously. I finally tasted one of those trendy asparagus-and-egg combos at The Alembic, which is nestled among the dreadlocks and patchouli wafts of Haight Street. And when it comes to thin crust pizza, Pizzeria Delfina rises above the rest. Chinatown is the perfect place to roam freely and try to accept the concept of dried fish. On the rooftop of Passion Café, I sipped my first Trumer Pilsner, a crisp local brew. From the Top of the Mark, I gawked at 360-degree views of the entire city. I experienced my first man-made indoor thunderstorm at the tiki-themed Tonga Room and created my own little beerstorm at the Rogue Ales Public House. But the best and most memorable meal I had in San Francisco wasn’t served at a restaurant. It was at my cousin’s house in nearby San Carlos. Spending time with family members who I rarely get to see was wonderful...and being serenaded by my cousin’s accomplished musician girlfriend was just plain cosmic. Amoeba Music on Haight Street is a must for any audiophile. I’ll leave it at that.
My ultimate San Francisco experience occurred during our last night, when we saw George Winston perform at the Grace Cathedral. I never thought I’d have this opportunity. Tears streamed down my face as he played songs I’ve been listening to for nearly 30 years. It was a bucket list performance, and the venue was one of the most welcoming and peace-inspiring sanctuaries I’ve ever visited.