Seaside to San Francisco
Getting to Seaside put us about two and a half hours from San Francisco. On our way there we decided to take a quick detour and stop in Santa Cruz, a city we had heard nothing but good things about. I really loved it. It was one of my favorite cities. It seemed very laid back and cool and gave me a similar feeling to Venice or Silver Lake, but maybe even better.
In particular we stopped at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a small, but very fun amusement park. It’s free to enter and you pay by the ride, which worked fine with us as I wasn’t planning to ride anything (most rides make me sick) and Vince mainly wanted to ride the historic wooden roller coaster, the Giant Dipper. Vince is a “coaster enthusiast” as they call them and didn’t want to pass up this one, the sixth oldest in the United States (it was build in 1924). While he rode it twice (he loved it), I walked around, took photos, and bought a hot dog for $3.82. It was awesome. While I’m too scared to ride most rides, I really love the amusement park atmosphere, which helps explains the hours and hours I’ve spent playing Roller Coaster Tycoon, a computer game (I believe I spent an entire month playing it everyday, all day, the summer after 8th grade).
A couple hours later we were in San Francisco on a cool Thursday morning. We checked into the Oasis Inn and made a plan for the day.
We first ventured into the Haight-Ashbury district, known for its importance in 60s music. Right away it was apparent that San Francisco is loaded with people a lot like us (in their 20s, into music, bad posture, etc…). We then stopped at Amoeba Records, which I believe is the original one. They also had a great selection and we each bought a CD. I bought a self-titled album by The Postmarks and Vince got a Mother Hips CD he had loaned to a friend that was never returned. Next we stopped to see the house where members of the Grateful Dead lived for a few years in the 60s.
Next we went through Delores Park, which is apparently a prime spot for drug deals late at night. Then we made it to the Mission District area, which was one of my favorites. Lots of cool bookstores everywhere. I bought a Joan Didion novel at one of them. Next we stopped at 826 Valencia, a writing center for kids that was started by one of our favorite authors and a San Francisco resident, Dave Eggers. It now has several locations all over the country. Because of a city ordinance that said any business in the area had to be retail or catering, the front of the store sells pirate-related goods. It’s really neat. Eyepatches, compasses, skull flags, treasures, and more. It’s a really popular place.
Following this we made it to the North Beach area, a pretty upscale part of town loaded with Italian restaurants. We both liked this area a lot. We ate dinner at L’Osteria del forno. The food and atmosphere was pretty solid and not too expensive. Though again I got my $2.25 can of coke and glass of ice. I guess my complaint is when you get a can, you wonder if you still get free refills. Oh well.
After dinner we walked over to the City Lights Bookstore, which was a popular hangout for a lot of the Beat-era writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. It had a great collection of books. I would’ve bought a ton, but I prefer to buy used (just cheaper), and they only sold new books, so I walked out empty handed.
Right next door is Vesuvio’s, a bar that was frequented by a lot of Beat writers too. This place was great. Vince and I got a couple drinks there, including one called “The Jack Kerouac.” It was two stories, but still very small and for lack of a better word, cozy. We had one drink, decided to scout the area more, and then came right back for another one. The door guy even said, “Were you just here like an hour ago? Or was that yesterday?”
We also stopped by the Beat Museum. Because it was late, we couldn’t actually take the tour (and it cost money), so we just looked around the small collection of books that included one by Hilary Clinton, which obviously seemed out of place, but maybe she wrote several “anti-establishment” poems or something, though I doubt those were in the book they had for sale there.