Is my city really better than yours?

February 9, 2015

Sometimes the Fog City isn’t foggy at all. Sometimes, the day is so spectacular that you almost expect the Chamber of Commerce to come out to capture the sights for tourism brochures. For example, these birds, enjoying a brief respite in the sun, before either winging away or getting into someone’s leftover food. They, too, are enjoying San Francisco pleasures.

20150117_132904But, when someone says “San Francisco,” is this what you think of?

This was the scene along the Great Highway in San Francisco one recent Saturday.  We live just 55 miles south, but we fantasized about having one of the row houses overlooking the water and waking to the sight and sound of the Pacific each day.

I always wondered why this ocean was called “Pacific” because it’s anything but. It crashes and roars with power and might. One of my favorite sounds, and not one you’d expect right smack dab in the middle of an urban center like San Francisco.

20150117_132733Beautiful.  San Francisco’s waterfront has a history and we often hear old tales of being sold into slavery on the Barbary Coast. I didn’t know what that really meant until I went to Morocco and discovered THIS.

AloeI love the way aloe grows out of the rocky cliffs alongside the ocean.

But wander San Francisco a little bit and come across a completely different energy.

2015-01-24 12.10.18Wow, pretty wild–can you guess where we are now?2015-01-24 12.10.49I wouldn’t get this fun tattoo, but it’s very cool to look at. Fine work, too. This could be anywhere, right?


Sidewalk graffiti.

But it isn’t.  And on the sidewalk, the art is a clue…maybe…

Does this help:

2015-01-24 12.15.41Can you read the wording atop the building?  Peace  — 1967–Summer of Love.  Yes, we are in the heart of the Haight, the infamous Haight-Ashbury district, and a quite different vibe than the Great Highway.

2015-01-24 12.11.44One of the very best signs in the area.  But then, I’ve always been a biceps girl.

2015-01-24 12.12.57

Speaking of men….What does “Gypsy Men” mean here? I’ll tell you: It’s a boutique for both men and women–festival and burn attire. As in Burning Man.  The 21st century version of hippie-wear.

2015-01-24 12.14.23Why does this evoke Stevie Nicks?

2015-01-24 12.16.02Uh…okay. I think this is what’s meant by “eclectic.”

2015-01-24 12.12.40We were wandering around with the tourist’s upward gaze and walked right through wet cement. Embarrassed, but laughing–they should have done a better job barricading! Will our steps live in the Haight sidewalk in perpetuity? Or at least until a new pavement is put down? Or have they already trowelled over our footprints? We’ll have to go check.

Lee in bkstore
A long, hilly walk took us to Clement St. and the fabulous Green Apple bookstore, where we browsed to our hearts’ content.

2015-01-24 14.11.10 I simply had to have this book of essays on San Francisco. It’s supposed to be a bit of a different approach to the city with lots of unusual information and I wanted a copy I could mark up…which is more difficult on a Kindle. Oh, I still like my Kindle for travel, but if I’m marking things up for future reference? Nothing like a hard copy.

The bookstore had other fun offerings, too:

2015-01-24 14.15.55I loved these cute socks.

2015-01-24 14.16.08My definition of true love on another pair of socks.

2015-01-24 14.17.42Sometimes you find something so weirdly cute you wonder about the mind that came up with it.

2015-01-24 14.17.28This bookstore is cool enough to have it own mug. Cute little logo, too.

The urban vibe here is different from any other big city vibe–I love the contrast of gulls on a rock near the ocean and the “new” Haight.  There’s also downtown, and the Mission and the Embaradero and the Castro and the art museums and theatre….and. More than any other, San Francisco is a city of contrasts.

I can’t help but think this:

my city is better

We may not live in the city, but to all of us in the Bay area, San Francisco is OUR city.

You think?  Tell us how your city stacks up.

29 comments on “Is my city really better than yours?
  1. I live in Wichita, KS. And while it has it’s charms, and I have deep love for many of the people here, it’s not very high on the “cool” factor. When I was younger, I lived in Monterrey, CA and then Pacifica, CA. I’ve been back a couple of times as a tourist. And I’ve read a few novels set in San Francisco. Such a rich history, such great culture. Give the place a big hug for me.

  2. Suzi says:

    I adore the “Love is people being stupid together” socks! When I visited your fine city last summer, I wanted to take photos at every corner. (It also just so happens that one of those shots became a fixture in my blog’s sidebar, “Inspiration Seen on Vacation.” . A graffiti artist’s message was too inspiring not to share.)

  3. San Francisco is great but coming from New York, I can’t imagine any better city. Of course, San Diego, where we live now, is pretty amazing but I don’t think of it as a city! I think pretty much every place has lots to offer!

  4. Roz Warren says:

    Is your city better than mine — Philadelphia? Yeah, probably. At least it seems that way on this cold bleak February day. And my son and his wife certainly think so — they moved from Baltimore to San Francisco last year and are loving it.

  5. Diane says:

    I haven’t been to your city for 45 years. I loved it then. I wonder if anything has changed . . ? 🙂

  6. Karen says:

    I live about an hour from NYC and while I can appreciate it as a special place, I am not a “New Yorker.” So in answer to your title question, um, yes, your city is better than mine!

  7. Carolann says:

    My town sucks in comparison for sure lol but! I live about an hour and a half from NYC and that rocks my world! I love NYC and wouldn’t think of living within driving distance. I love the pics you shared…so dreamy! I’ve been there before and it is stunning and much fun for sure!

  8. Yes, San Francisco is better than my city. Absolutely.

  9. I live in New York, although I’ll never consider myself a true New Yorker, just a transplant from the west coast who landed in NYC sort of by a fluke (came for a cousin’s wedding at a time when it was really time for me to find a job and start a life of my own after about 6 post-college months with my folks in London and a friend who’d moved here and fallen in love with the place talked me into interviewing while I was here. First job I landed was a complete disaster, but after a couple more tries I hit something more stable (a nice little music hall by the name of Carnegie, actually) and so I stayed. I do love occasionally playing tourist-in-my-own-town, too, I think it would be really quite sad to live in a major urban hub and not do that every once in a while!

    I don’t know about better or worse – I think I’d love SF, I’d certainly love the water activities there, but I do enjoy life in NYC very much. Of course I’ve got the advantage of spending a lot of time enjoying the wonderful Gateway Recreation Area – good to balance the urban life with time on the water!

  10. Estelle says:

    I love San Francisco. I haven’t been there in a while but it’s a nice change of pace. Great food, love the cable cars, the hills, the Getty (I think that’s there), and the dock where the seals are.

    I’m in NJ, but identify more with NYC, since it’s so close.

  11. Lisa Froman says:

    Oh what perfect timing. I was looking at images of your city today. Hotels, too. I might be coming to San Francisco in July for a conference. I have been wanting to see the city for years. We were talking about seeing the Haight- Asbury area too.

  12. Lana says:

    I think your city is better than my city, although Seattle is pretty great. But I was born in Berkeley, and San Francisco has a very special place in my heart. I loved this post and all the pictures!

  13. Debbie D. says:

    Thank you for sharing this fabulous glimpse into San Francisco! It’s been on my travel bucket list for a long time and I hope to get there soon. Funky and fascinating are the other words that come to mind. 🙂 I can see why you love it so much, Carol! Coincidentally, I did a (much shorter) post about my city too. Playing tourist at home gives you a new appreciation for it.

  14. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you for the best tour of my all time favorite city. I have to find that book!

  15. Haha oh I bet your city is better than mine. I hate Toronto, enough said.

  16. Paula schuck says:

    I think you are right. Your city wins. My city is landlocked and in Ontario, Canada. My city has great summer festivals and we have great things four children. We also have a province with smart health care and social services. so I’ll build my province is always been beautiful as say San Francisco it has a lot going for it in different ways.

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