San Francisco diary – Day 8: 8 Feb 2014


We rose sleepily this morning and realised we didn’t have enough Grape Nuts left for breakfast. So we got rugged up and ventured forth into the rainy morning to go to Walgreens and buy some more.

That taken care of, we decided we would make the most of the wet weather by catching a bus first to Cow Hollow and the Union Street shops there, then moving on to the Haight-Ashbury area to look around there. We considered an option to extend the day’s travels by walking over to Golden Gate Park and checking out the Conservatory of Flowers, but we didn’t have enough time before it closed in the afternoon.

We took a 45 bus from Stockton Street, which took us up through Chinatown on Stockton, which was something I’d never seem before. I’ve always gone through Chinatown on Grant Avenue, but one block over on Stockton was a much different experience. Instead of the restaurants and touristy shops, it was full of Chinese grocery markets and fresh fruit and vegetables. Basically it looked like a more “real” area than one dollied up for tourists.

The bus turned on to Union Street and crossed the busy Van Ness into an area of San Francisco I’d never been to before. We got off near Octavia Street, where the Cow Hollow shops began. We walked down one side of the street for about five or six blocks until the shops ended, then returned on the other side. We stopped in at a nice old fashioned cafe called Coffee Roasters, where M. had a coffee and we got an oaty slice and biscuit to keep us going until lunch. Both were sweet with fruit and honey, and very yummy.

Shopping day Daphne
Shopping in Cow Hollow.

We popped in at various shops that took M.’s fancy. There were little boutiques and knick-knack shops full of all sorts of bric-a-brac. One had cool steel dice, about three centimetres across, though they were way too heavy to be practical – they would dent or smash any table you rolled them on – clearly they were meant only as decorations. In between we braved various intensities of rain and wind, though it never got really heavy, and was more a nuisance than anything else.

We finished Cow Hollow a bit after 13:00 and then walked north a few blocks to Lombard Street, where we could pick up a 43 bus to Haight Street. We were waiting in the slightly heavy rain when M. saw a 43 turn onto Lombard from a side street just past the bus stop where we were waiting! We scrambled up the street to the next stop, but had to wait for the next bus to come along once we got there. Thankfully that didn’t take too long, and we sat for the ride south to Haight Street.

I’d planned to get off after the bus had turned on to Haight, but as we arrived and were about to turn the bus stopped to let someone else off and we spotted several cool looking shops on that corner, so we scrambled to get off the bus as well.

Jammin' on Haight
Jammin’ on Haight.

The closest shop was Jammin’ on Haight, which was amazing. It was like stepping into the 1960s, with psychedelic tie-dyed clothing of all colours and descriptions. What’s more, they had 20% off all T-shirts. I looked through the racks, which were sorted by predominant colour, and found several that were very cool. But one caught my eye as soon as I saw it, with a neat tie-dyed turtle design on it, amidst a sea of psychedelic colour. As I held it up to look at it, a shop assistant said that that was very rare – it had been designed specially for the Grateful Dead, but never released because one of the band members died just before they were about to be sold. They were hidden away, and they found a box of them recently, and now this shop had about ten of them to sell. It was priced almost twice as much as the other T-shirts, but it was clearly the stand out design of them all. I tried it on for size and it was perfect, so I bought it. As we were paying, a second assistant at the counter started telling us the same story about the Grateful Dead, and we said the other woman had already told us! But cool… it’s neat to have such a great shirt with such a great story behind it.

We walked slowly up Haight, towards then past Ashbury Street, again stopping in at any shops that looked interesting. We saw the Loved to Death shop, where Kari Byron shops as shown on the Oddities TV show – it was slightly creepy but very cool. And we went into a soda shop called The Fizzary that boasted over 900 flavours of soda. The bottles were arranged on shelves sorted by flavour: root beer, sassafras, birch beer, lemon, orange, cherry, other berries, other fruit, colas, energy drinks, exotic and unusual, and “uncategorisable”. These latters included such things as maple bacon soda, coffee cola, and other weird stuff. They had some imported varieties, but most of it was American. I asked them if they had any passionfruit, and they said there was one from Hawaii, but they didn’t have any in stock at the moment. I also asked how long the place had been there, because the decor looked like it must have been around since the 1950s or earlier, and the guy said they only opened two months ago! I said they’d done a really good job of decorating the place then!

Over 900 soda flavours in The Fizzary. But no passionfruit.

After looking in a book shop we ended our return traverse of the street and went to the nearest bus stop to catch a 71 back towards and along Market Street, completing our triangular trip for the day. By this time it was after 16:30, and the rain was still tumbling down.

On the way back from Market Street to our hotel, we stopped in at the Giants Dugout store on Geary Street to book tickets for a tour of the baseball park on Thursday morning. We booked a 10:30 tour, but when I went to pay, their system didn’t like the foreign Visa card, so I dashed around the block to an ATM and got enough cash to pay for it. Then we went back to our hotel for a while and decided what to do for dinner.

I searched the net for some place nearby that did a vegetarian burger. One recommended place I found was Roam, in Cow Hollow, which we must have walked right past earlier today! But I eventually found Burger Bar, at the top of Macy’s on Union Square, just a short walk away. We put our coats back on and braved the rain once again to head there. We got a small booth in a secluded spot and perused the daunting menu. I got a local 8 Ball dark porter ale, then chose a buffalo burger with extra mushrooms and peppercorn sauce. M. picked the veggie burger with no additions, and we got some sweet potato fries to share. It was all pretty good.

We had decided to go upstairs to the Cheesecake Factory for dessert, but when we got there there was a one hour wait for a table, so we ditched that idea and just came home. I shot some photos of the rainy streets as we walked, and I hope some of them turn out well.

Waiting for the cable car
This one turned out okay.

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