Boon invited me out for an early bicycle ride, starting at 7am in the morning. Due to eating way too much food late at night (see Hitomi's blog) and that nights in this hostel are far from quiet, I had a tough time getting to sleep. Waking up at 6am to ride seemed daft. The plan was to head out from the Marina District, cross the bridge, explore the headlands and park, and return. Was I up for it?
Once I awoke and headed out, my head cleared. And once out: What a wonderful morning! To see the fog blanketing the city, the sun casting a yellow light on the Golden Gate Bridge, and the green of early spring hills against the ocean — I have not had a ride like it before.
Admittedly, I had a bit of a tough time crossing the bridge. Traffic comes at you from the right. To the left was the railing and the beginning of the end of many lives. There are many blue signs with the message: "There is hope make the call." Not feeling suicidal, though, I still had a hard time crossing: there's a lot of metal plates, and in the morning are wet and very slippery. With my racing slicks, I nearly fell at one point. Has anyone unintentionally fallen off the bridge deck on a bicycle?
Boon took me up and down the headlands. The first substantial climb we did took us nearly over the arch elevation of the Golden Gate. Then we dropped down nearly to sea level, then back up to the bridge elevation. Then back down the sea level, up to the bridge, then over, down, and up and down Fort Mason for good measure. (There was an old lady pushing her bike up that last hill: Eat my dust grandma!)
We saw just a few bicyclists on the way out, but on the way back there was a train of them coming north over the bridge. Were they from a number of clubs? But by this point, the sun was up and with the fog clear had really missed out on the best light. And back at the previously empty marina, there was now also a stream of joggers and hundreds of kids now practicing soccer.
And by this point, it was about 10am and Hitomi was waiting at the hotel. I promised countless times to be back early, least she disappear out of impatience.
Boon recommended a very nice dim sum restaurant, which probably had the highest end dim sum I've ever seen. (About $50 for two, all said.) And in addition to better food, there was better services. The waitresses had wireless headsets and could summon whatever personal or food cart you might have been missing. This helped at one point where we had been missing the dessert cart for some time.
From the financial district, a bus ride us back to Japantown. We went to check out the Super7 store and shop for "Gama-go" (local pop-art) merchandise. Once done looking at vinyl toys and other things for 30-something adolescents like ourselves, we went to the mall area. I had a crepe and we went into a few stores missed on Thursday. To complete the Asian-themed day, there was a tea store in Chinatown Hitomi wanted to find. A bus ride and — after being passed by 3 packed cable cars — took a long walk over Nob Hill.
Chinatown put us fairly close to Fisherman's Wharf, which I had seen in the morning, pre-tourist infestation, but now felt compelled to see, at least this once. We headed over there and I had flashbacks to walking the tourist infested parts of Seattle, Bangkok, Vancouver, etc. All these places have countless shops selling cheap T-shirts, postcards, nail clippers with "Place Name Here", ice cream, tours, other modes of transport, bad art, "local food", etc. And to navigate from tourist place to place, we ended up in a morass of other tourists pushing past homeless people, street performers, jewelry hawkers (which sell the same junk in every city), confused old people, fat people, lost people, kids, dogs, families, idle smokers, picture takers, etc. Our effective velocity dropped to half walking pace.
There were some interesting spots, which perhaps I will see in the off season, if there is one anymore.
Come to think of it, last weekend, it was a bit of a shock to see so many tourists in March. Usually, the waterfront area is pretty dead in Winter and early Spring. But it was fairly overrun with them.