Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
This, however, deprives you of the singular experience of crossing the Bay Bridge and being treated to any of a thousand-and-one different versions of her at first glimpse. Istanbul, Venice or Manhattan may be among that tier of cities which share the honor of greeting the traveller with such a mixture of pomp coupled with nature's own theatrical flourish, but it is San Francisco that will have the unparalleled choice of vestments with which to seduce you. From the moment the morning sun rises above the Oakland Hills and throws its golden rays against the gleaming city, to the twinkling of a million tiny lights that signal from the other side of the bay by night; pulling you in while shrouded in any number of shades of silhouette, mysteriously wrapped in its signature fog, which may be pouring in through the Golden Gate and over the hills in a wondrous spectacle without peer.
While driving on the Golden Gate Bridge is and of itself a singular pleasure, it pales to walking mid span along the eastern deck, with the swirling waters of the bay visible beneath you and the elegant deco towers soaring above. You might even be treated to witnessing a ship slide into the bay or out to sea, accompanied by the bray of sea lions and perhaps even the bellow of a fog horn.
There is that one particular block of Lombard Street which the City offers as an amusing paean to the automobile, but that, too, may be better experienced on foot, especially as the number of waiting cars lined up for blocks continuously multiplies.
Wear comfortable shoes for walking, and don't neglect a pair for climbing streets where the sidewalks become stairs; or for the truly adventurous, the paths that may precipitously ascend and incredulously demand you almost crawl on hands and knees to descend.The promise is always fulfilled that as breathtaking the climb, so too the view. If a journey begins shrouded in swirling mists that it is no trick seem to hum and whisper to you, have confidence that with a dramatic flourish the fog will rise or part or dissolve before you to present you the treasure concealed within its folds.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
From Tank Hill and Kite Hill to strolling along the streets and lanes of The City; from the highest vantage point to along the very shore of the Bay, there was plenty which was familiar and belonged uniquely to The City, even as particular landmarks and cafes and shops have disappeared or have been altered beyond recognition. This is a place, mind you, whose very edge has been pushed out far beyond its original shorelines; a city leveled and rebuilt more times than even most natives are aware.
The fondest icons of The City such as the Transamerica Pyramid or Sutro Tower were themselves initially spurned by the local citizenry, just as they fought long and hard to retain the foghorns that bellowed across the Bay long after they had been rendered obsolete.
The City is in turmoil yet again over ambitious plans to build enough to make the current skyline virtually unrecognizable. Preservationists and the advocates of livable neighborhoods once again are sounding their call to arms. The piers and breakwaters are crumbling away as I write, and the means to save them remain ethereal as ever. Deep beneath the surface, the San Andreas fault bides its time before it throws all of the best laid plans to ashes as it has so many times before.
Yet the silhouette of The City approaching the Bay Bridge remains as magical and alluring as ever. The fog continues to pour over the hills in the afternoon, giving even the most dependable of views an ever shifting and evolving appearance. Millions of visitors still flock to leave their hearts there. The denizens remain as cynical and enamored as they ever were, passionate about their tiny piece of this great big world and comfortable in the knowledge that God has shown favor on them for granting them the rare privilege of living there.