Saturday, July 4, 2009

Dateline: San Francisco

There is no city more charming and beautiful in the United States than San Francisco. As I stand on our balcony at the Fairmont Hotel, it is a clear day and the early morning sun can be seen rising from the east beyond San Francisco Bay. Already freighter ships and sail boats dot the horizon while the Trans America building an other skyscrapers stand as sentinels watching over the city.

But almost in a flash low lying fog and mist can envelope the city, hugging tightly to the rolling hills that undulate through the romantic metropolis. From our hotel room high above California Street, the clanging of trolley car bells call out to residents and tourists. Many people squeeze onto the slow moving relics as they slowly strain up and down city hills.

There is no hustle and bustle here. No wonder, walking up and down the steep inclines is physically challenging. Take Lombard Street, which esses its way downhill, and is always filled with shutter bugs and slow moving vehicles. It was built to accommodate Nineteenth century horse carriages, riding straight up the this hill would have been impossible.

On Saturday we attended the Fillmore Jazz Festival which runs some twenty blocks between Eddy and Jackson Streets. Each block is filled with shops, outdoor booths music. We then to a cab over to Fisherman's warf for a late lunch.

It was Haight Ashbury and Golden Gate Park on Sunday morning. Then we walked across the Golden Gate bridge with hundreds of tourists from all over the world. The winds gusted but the views were invigorating. To the left stood San Francisco's skyline and Oakland and Berkley just beyond. To the right lay the Pacific Ocean and China some 8,000 miles away. At night we celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary at the fabulous Gary Danko's restaurant. We eloped at San Francisco City Hall in 1984, one day after the Democratic Convention. We also first met James L. Brooks, which is a whole other story.

Susan left for New York Sunday to produce a special on Michael Jackson's funeral. So Monday night Zoe and I will attend a Giants game as guests of the COO, Larry Baer. We may drive up to Napa valley during the day. And on Wednesday Susan rejoins us, and we are off to Carmel-By-The-Sea.

But our visit centers around San Francisco. There will never be another city built like it. Today, engineers would simply bulldoze the hills and flatten out the streets. Charm, character and interesting architecture fill every nook and cranny. This city embraces the future while it cherishes the past. San Francisco is cool.

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