First on the agenda of our stay with Lev and Julie was Muir Woods. North of San Francisco, the journey to the redwood forest took us over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Famous for being big, red, and having Christopher Walken chucked off it in A View to a Kill, it lived up to all expectations.
Muir Woods was only an hour away and, similar to Big Sur, was full of stonking great trees that we could walk amongst and even sit, stand and even jump in. Julie was our guide for the day, as Lev wasn't back until the evening. The weather was warm and California was living up to its reputation as the go-to destination for sunshine on the west coast.
We'd taken along a picnic, including some amazing beef jerky. I have no idea what was in this stuff, but it was amazing. Who'd have thought that dried, cured packaged chewy meat could taste so good?
After a great day wandering along the Ben Johnson trail, we left the woods behind in late afternoon and went to pick up Lev from the centre of The City.
San Francisco has a reputation for being something of an anomaly with its weather patterns. It could be blazing hot 30 minutes away, but 10 degrees colder in the centre thanks to a crazy micro-climate that manages to cram in fog, cloud, and grey. "Grey" is definitely a weather condition in 'Cisco. We caught a break for a few hours that day and managed to see some blue sky, but for the most part we much preferred the weather in Mountain View. San Francisco reminded us a bit too much of England's climate, but with slightly less rain.
Downtown has its share of crazies, with one stand-out gentleman dressed as some sort of Scottish warlock wandering about in the middle of a busy road, screaming at passers-by.
Fortunately Lev arrived on the scene not long after, and we left the nutcase casting spells at cars whilst we drove to Haight and Ashbury.
The intersecting roads are the epicentre of the area where the Summer of Love was born in the late 60s, a haven of hippies and hash which retains its unique feel today with a staggering diversity of independent shops, boutiques, and counter-culture paraphernalia. There's one place dedicated to selling an array of hats, which Lev was shopping for ahead of the wedding he was due to attend. We tried some on but couldn't really find any that fit too well.
We were all pretty hungry, and Lev was keen to take us to a noodle bar he was a big fan of. Keen to recapture some of our Laos memories, we happily obliged. The Citrus Club turned out to be excellent, and a cracking end to a busy day.
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