For the New Year, I have been lucky enough to have Sarah around. I don't get to see her much, but she is here for a couple of weeks! With Sarah around, we always have lots of adventures.
Yesterday, we were in San Francisco.
Sarah had to take the GRE (Graduate school exam) at the 100 block on California Street in downtown SF. We arrived a little early to the building and found a coffee shop to sit and wait in. We noticed there was three coffee shops on this corner. At 9:30 we went to the testing center on the bottom of a tall skyscraper. She checked in and was told the rules...
"You can not bring anything in with you. No calculator, pencil, paper, NADA! You can NOT have a watch. You can not have anything in your pockets. Turn your cell phone off and leave it too. NOTHING."
She was told to say goodbye to me.
"Ok, that's long enough, you'll see him again."
She entered the testing room as I heard the test warden ask, "Are you sure nothing is in your pockets?"
Great, now I had four hours to kill.
If I could be left anywhere for four hours, San Francisco is top of my list. It is a fun, energetic, and always interesting city.
I am always told not to drive in the city, but I always do. I don't mind thousands of crazy drivers in crowded streets which I don't know well. So, I drove away from downtown towards the North Beach area. I spotted a beautiful church next to Washington Square, a park. I parked here, fed the meter, grabbed the camera and started to take a look around.
Here is the St. Peter, Paul, and Mary Cathedral:
To the East was Telegraph Hill. I could hear and see a flock of wild parrots circling the monument at the top:
I walked down to pier 39 which is the biggest tourist area. I needed some change to put into the parking meter when I returned to the car. I spotted a friendly looking shop keeper and asked about getting some quarters. I got my change and the three dollar cigar I had to buy, lit it up, and continued to walk.
I returned to the car, filled the parking meter, and was off to Chinatown and Little Italy. I arrived in Little Italy and looked around. I found a place we would be eating when Sarah gets out of the exam, The Steps of Rome Caffe. Across the street was a funny named restaurant, The Stinking Rose, a reference to garlic.
Walking around Little Italy, I came to an invisible line that separates it from Chinatown. Suddenly I am in "China." I could smell the strange herbs, dried fish, and vegetables being sold in the street. I was the only tall, white guy around. If there is one place I feel safe as any other, it's Chinatown. I looked around at all the things being pedalled...mops, ginger roots, fresh meat, and many unidentified things. There is Chinese writing on everything.
I returned to the downtown area as it got closer to the end of Sarah's exam time. I walked along the Embarcadero on the San Francisco bay. Checked out a farmers market.
Sarah called me and I picked her up. We went to Steps of Rome to eat. They didn't have the souffle she came all the way from Kansas to eat, but the food was good.
As we were driving out of the city, a guy pulled right in front of us. I stopped somehow. The crowd on the sidewalk made sounds of disbelief, "Ooooooooh!" Sarah and I looked at each other, and went on.
This near accident reminded me of the other close calls Sarah and I have had...
Greece on a scooter when a car pulled out in front of us...
Leaving the Colorado mountains after a snow storm, bumper to bumper stop-and-go traffic, on ice. Now that was fun!