I just arrived in San Francisco from Dallas/Ft. Worth, and I’ve been psyching myself up for the taxi ride into the city from SFO. As an introvert, making small talk with a stranger for an indeterminate length of time is about as pleasant as stabbing oneself in the eye. (As an aside, the last two times I rode in a cab the cabbie asked ME for directions on how to get to my destination. And I thought, “I HAVE NO IDEA. I DON’T LIVE HERE.”) I dread it so much that I refuse to call and order pizza: thank goodness for online ordering, frozen pizza, and homemade dough, all of which require minimal or no interaction with people. In any case I was delighted to discover that I could take public transportation to within a block of my hotel. It’s $8.65 as opposed to the $50+ for a cab fare, AND I don’t have to talk to a single person. YES PLEASE.
San Franciscans must have wicked awesome calf muscles. I’m walking uphill on California to Grace Cathedral and feeling like my legs really and truly might fall off. So I have been stopping to catch my breath every 50 feet or so except I don’t want to act like a tourist. This means I am pretending to get ALL THE PHONE CALLS. So very, very many phone calls that I REALLY need to stand still to take. I AM VERY IMPORTANT. (Please note that I did not take the above picture because geez all those people kept CALLING ME, but this is what I walked up. Now that I see it from this angle I am both really astonished with myself and really baffled by my lack of research on the geography because hello! CABLE CARS.)
I WALKED UP NOB HILL. Let’s just all take a moment to be impressed by me.
Okay, back to the story. Just a second ago a police officer came up to me while I was standing on the sidewalk clearly talking on the phone and I was all, “I’m a tourist… And I… Just can’t even… On these hills… So sorry…” He says, “Well, keep moving because the Vice President is coming and you can’t stand here.” I tried to pick up the pace but then I got swarmed by cops telling me to cross the street RIGHT NOW DO NOT STOP. So I did and I almost got taken out by a cable car. Now I’m waiting patiently behind the police barricade. Basically I am a legit San Franciscan at this point is what I’m saying.
But this is a decoy street. WHAT.
Sigh. On to Grace Cathedral! Their organist is practicing, which is always a nice addition to a stop in a church. The Interfaith AIDS Memorial Chapel with the Keith Haring altarpiece is beautiful and the labyrinth is every bit as neat as I thought it would be.
I’m being brave and grabbing my first-ever Uber ride to head over to Golden Gate Park. This is infinitely better than a regular taxi because a) I don’t have to talk to anyone in order for the driver to find me, b) I don’t have to tell the driver where to go in person because the app already told them, and c) I know AHEAD OF TIME what the person looks like and what kind of car they drive. I have no idea why this last one is helpful for me but it’s totally a different experience than a taxi. Maybe it’s the emotional processing time of, “In approximately 3 minutes I will meet a new person named Timothy who drives a Prius.” I did UberPool because it’s so cheap ($7 anywhere in the city!), and ended up in a car being the beginning of a joke. “A Chinese guy, a white American girl, and a black British guy head to the park…” Naturally I have no idea where things are around here so I got dropped off in the middle of the park. I had planned to do the Conservatory and the Botanical Gardens, but having to walk from the center of the park to the east side means I lost some time. So the Conservatory is out because it’s closed. It’s okay though because the park is all, “Oh, here’s a waterfall for you. And some calla lilies. Nothing big.”
I almost skipped the Rose Garden because roses bloom in late May/early June, as everyone (north of the Mason-Dixon line) knows, and it is mid-April. Apparently I forgot about growing zones and how different they are. So there are tons of roses! And behind me in a redwood grove a tenor is practicing arias. Seriously. IS THIS PLACE REAL LIFE?
The Japanese Tea Garden is beautiful and full of people, not least a couple taking wedding pictures. Since I’m a wedding photographer, I keep “running into them” (read: casually stalking them) as I wander around the garden so that I can snap shots myself. Sneaky me.
Onward to the Botanical Gardens proper! It’s set up by geographical area, with flowers from all over the world. It is so serene and lovely particularly since it’s the end of the day. Not many people and the golden hour equal LOTS of good photo opportunities.
I’m heading back to the hotel to meet up with Ryan and our friend Gustavo from Brasil. UberPool it is. I plan to take large amounts of ibuprofen and do stretches before bed, as I have walked more today than I probably have in the past month combined. Tomorrow, Alcatraz!