San Francisco – the SOHO of the West?

I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of taking trips to the U.S. – taking vacation time to visit the U.S. is something I rarely do.  I don’t know if it is the fact that I feel like it is too “close to home” being Canadian..or that I am looking for the culture shock that sometimes is lacking in English-speaking familiarity.   Either way, this was my first trip to San Francisco – a mere 2 hour flight from Vancouver…and boy, was I impressed.

I used to live in New York – and when you live in New York, you think that no other city, especially another American city (especially in California!) can compare.  I didn’t really expect too much from San Fran.  I went there for a work conference so I didn’t even have much time to explore.  Basically two nights and three days.  I still managed to do a lot!  I was luck because I had a friend, Milena (a super fun Colombian girl), who lived in San Fran and took the time to show me around.

SLEEP:

  • I stayed at a hotel in the Tenderloin (p.s. what a name for an area!).  Definitely a sketchy area – kind of interesting but also kind of seriously dangerous.  You really can’t wonder off and take a poke around the neighbourhood.  People are sleeping on the streets and there are gangs of guys walking around.  But it is also a few blocks away from the Saks, Barneys, Bloomingdales, etc.  Funny how that always works somehow, eh?  It was very convenient for shopping but not sure I would stay in this area a second time.

EAT:

  • As you can see from the video, I ate a lot in San Fran. Jesus, every where I went – even some random shit-hole Thai place – had amazing food.  The pizza place Delfina is really famous and usually has a wait – but is it every worth it.  The best pizza I have ever had.
  • Tartine – the bakery in Mission – the lineup in the video is no joke.  And it was like that for the entire time – again, it was worth the wait!  I’m always on a mission to find the best pain au chocolate outside of Paris and this place beat Paris, hands down! Delicious!

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Besides for the food, just walking around San Fran was awesome.  Everywhere I turned there was a cool shop, cool cafe or neat bookstore to peak in.  Everything was beautifully designed maintaining the city’s old character and charm.  It didn’t feel like it had been stripped of its soul to placate the developers (as Vancouver feels a lot of the time).  It felt like Soho…but everywhere.
  • I think my favourite areas were Mission and the Pier (and that was mostly because of the breakdancers we found..yes, I’m easily swayed by breakdancers).  Mission was just cool – I love integrated Mexican fusion neighbourhoods – you would expect to find more of them in the U.S. but for some reason, you don’t.  I really expected that in San Diego considering how close it is to Tijuana…but it was so segreated – very surprising.

I have been meaning to go back to San Fran but just have to find the right weekend to go.  The only drawback is the weather.  As nice as it was in the fall/winter when I was there, it’s the not the place to be in the summer – even in July, the beach is too cold!!

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