My aunt and uncle live in San Francisco and have been inviting me to visit for years. I hadn’t in at least 20. They weren’t even married the last time I was there (it’s his third marriage, her fourth). I was way overdue, so Sam and I decided to visit on Columbus Day weekend. Our timing was perfect. The weather was un-San Franciscanly warm, and it was Fleet Week, which means the Blue Angels would put on an airshow over San Francisco Bay on both Saturday and Sunday. From the bedroom of our window in my uncle and aunt’s 1896 corner mansion in Pacific Heights (yes, they’re loaded), we had the perfect view of Alcatraz and all the Navy ships, sailboats, power yachts, working vessels and pleasure craft bobbing around in the world’s most panoramic bathtub.
When we finally got our act together on Saturday (after a leisurely welcome breakfast and an introduction to a crazed Havanese named Charlie Bear who likes to leave little landmines all over the Orientals), we drove to Noe Valley, thinking it would be a good place to schmy around. It might be, but parking is another story: there were no meters that lasted longer than an hour and spaces were harder to come by than Immodium during a cruise-ship flu outbreak. It was lunchtime already, so we found an outdoor café called Pomodoro that proved not all chain restaurants are soulless. Then, we tried to shop, and in fairness, the stores did have cool stuff, but with the exception of footsie pajamas for adults, almost everything was sized infant to toddler. The explanation we heard later from a friend who lives there is that Noe Valley, which used to be fairly boho, is convenient to Palo Alto, so all the Google-ites have taken over with their 2.5 children. (A pretty good premise for a sci-fi movie about a cult, if you ask me.)