What we love at TDE, is reading about other’s escapes. That is why we do this, and that is why we give you Carin – Billy – and San Francisco.
Being formally introduced to someone’s hometown truly is a special experience. You’re not only becoming more intimately acquainted with a brand new city, but also with the accumulated memories and emotions that reside there. All the summer vacations and teen angst, as well as the hopes and dreams for the future. Surely this is why my fiancé Billy was so eager to bring me to San Francisco. Despite living way across the Atlantic Ocean, the city remains a big part of his life. So this wasn’t just about taking me on a trip. By getting to know San Francisco, he felt that I would get to know him a little better. As the plane banked off the coast running along the Pacific Ocean and glided over the bay, he leaned forward, kissed me on the temple and whispered: ”This is home.”
We descend into a cold and damp San Francisco. In August. The city is sited on a peninsula dotted with foothills, which provides cold coastal temperatures yet a warmer inland climate. You’re constantly buffeted by blasts of winds in the city, which never gets as warm as its southern neighbor L.A. The hills are just as steep as you’d imagine. No, steeper. When our Uber driver stops at a red light in the Lower Haight, where we will be staying, I catch myself holding my breath. I’m convinced that the brakes are going to fail and that we’re going to careen backwards into oncoming traffic.
The city boasts an eclectic mixture of Victorian and modern architecture. It’s very striking and your eye never fully adapts to the jostling juxtapositions. The Haight is most famous for being the epicenter of the sixties’ hippie revolution and the vibe is still very strong today. The street art is exuberant and soaring here and you’ll blend in far better with dyed purple hair than without. The stoops that lead up to the many picturesque homes gush with spontaneous gardening experiments gone terrifically wild. I realize that the only thing to do at this point is to reconcile with the fact that I stick out like a sore thumb. I mean, what could look more touristy than a cool, tempered Scandinavian plunked down in the middle of this ”anything goes” mélange?
We rent a car for a day and make our way to the Golden Gate Bridge. It is massive and juts out majestically over the water. We’re headed to Fort Point, a historic military encampment, which today serves as spot for tourists to look out over the city. The wind blows right through you and I lost my balance several times. But the view is unbelievable. We continue along the coast in our obscene muscle car (a clerical error on the part of the rental agency, we were assured). We pass the beaches where Billy surfed as a teenager. They are vast and desolate, with only a few souls visible in the distance, bracing the icy waves. Next stop is the Cliff House Bistro, a gem long perched on the rocks overlooking the ocean. We manage to swing a window table. I order the eggs benedict and proceed to enjoy the best lunch of my life.
The sea constantly makes its presence felt in San Francisco. Even downtown you catch glimpses of the water out of the corner of your eye. It’s particular smells waft easily among the steep inclines that dot the city’s topography. The city center’s pulse is reminiscent of most major metros, but doesn’t offer anything unusual or spectacular. Indeed, I feel constantly drawn to the water, so Billy takes me to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. We weave in and out of stores and attractions all day, buying saltwater taffy in countless colors and flavors, eating fresh shellfish and watching the lazy parade of sea lions basking on the piers.
Seeking respite from fog and inclement weather in the city, we decided to thaw out in Mountain View, where Billy’s mother lives. A 30-minute trip on Caltrain later and the temperature has more than doubled. Diana, or ”Dee” to her friends, picks us up at the station. I immediately feel out of place, as I’m dressed for 12 C – not 27. “Nice and sunny out here, huh? Let’s get you out of that fur, honey,” she says and hugs me. Our time in Mountain View is spent doing exactly one thing: sitting on a chaise longue in the sun at the country club. I survey the pool where Billy learned to swim, nursing margaritas and chatting idly with Dee, who had parked herself strategically in the shade.
On the last night back in town, we book a table at One Market, a famous eatery and watering hole situated on the waterfront. We begin with drinks in the bar, which has a decor that does more than nod to the luxuriant 1990s. It feels like we’re in a scene from the first season of Sex and the City, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I accidentally bumped into Mr. Big. I order clams as my entree, sip deliberately on a glass of Sancerre and listen while Billy explains that despite all the changes, it’s still his city. I gaze across the table and it hits me: I think I’m more in love with him than ever before.