The Opinionated Traveler: San Francisco day #1

The first night in San Francisco in what, just about five years. It’s good to be here, it is a reminder of what it’s like to actually travel. San Fran is one of those cities – like New York, Baltimore or Minneapolis even – that feels like a world city, as opposed to my two mainstays, Chicago and L.A. both of which I love, but both of which are more like glorified suburbs to the eyes of folks who have spent any time out of the country (Britain especially – the British ‘flavour’ is strong in cities like San Fran and New York. These cities are literal melting pots and they feel that way).

This is good.

So after checking into our hotel – a little independent number that has been here for a looooong time and unfolds upwards in skinny stairways and corridors  and an ancient pulley-oriented elevator system – we hit an amazing Indian buffet at Naan and Curry and then set to walking around the city.

The first thing I said when we moved to L.A. almost six years ago now is that I never truly trust a city that doesn’t have a train system. Oh, there’s buses a plenty, and maybe this is just me being a snob* but I’m not a huge fan of them in the States. ANYWAY…the second thing I said – well, really not second, but something that I have definitely come to realize in my time as a Los Angelian, is you can not walk anywhere in LA or its surrounding areas. It’s too mapped out as sprawl. It was made so you couldn’t.

Now how do you trust a city like that? Answer: you live there, you work there, you keep your wits about you but you don’t turn your back.

After dinner we walked a great deal and it was wonderful – you begin to feel as if you are inside the city, not merely skating along on top of it. This is another reason why San Fran reminds me of New York, Dublin and Edinburgh, Glasgow and a little like London (although London does sprawl but it is a healthy-city sprawl). It’s good to walk through the hill-driven streets of this city, it makes me feel eternal somehow.

Next it was to a local theatre to see the BRILLIANT Cabin in the Woods. I won’t go into it here – perhaps I’ll write what will no doubt be the one millionth review of it at a later time, suffice it to say seeing a movie is never something I do while on holiday in another city, especially one I like this much, but I had been anticipating the film for about a year and a half and all I can say is – IT WAS WORTH IT.

Lastly we walked over to a wonderful pub we’d passed on out way to the theatre, Edinburgh Castle Pub. With a name like that and a facade that brought back such an earlier time in the history of our country’s night life how could we not stop in for a few pints? The interior was everything I could have hoped for and more, plus they had a very healthy selection of beers on tap that included Smithwicks, Sierra Nevada, Guinness, Death and Taxes, Radeburger, Strongbow Cider, Wyder’s Pear Cider, Hoegaarden White, Blue Moon, Boddington’s, among others I’m blanking on at the moment. When I asked the waiter how long the place had been there he said he believed it was 60 years and inside it looked it  – in a great way. Again I evoke the word eternal – it felt like that wonderful symbiotic relationship many pubs in actual Edinburgh have where modern meets ancient- a lot of weathered wood, open space and dim, red-tinted lighting. A great place to catch a buzz.

I’m going to upload some pictures here in the next day or two, otherwise I’ll post more tidbits of interest soon.


* I will use a bus but would much prefer a train – this is probably because after riding Chicago’s L for years trains have an endearing, emotional quality to me. They are also neater. Yes, I used the word ‘neat’.

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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