- Thank you San Francisco
- Four Barrels Cafe – San Francisco
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San Francisco is cool!
Counter-culture city, first the Beats, then hippies and now the gay community and greenies.
Our first trips were to the tourist hotspots, Chinatown, the Wharf with the view of Treasure Island, the Crookedest street in the world, Little Italy in Columbus Ave. Chinatown looked familiar but bigger! In Little Italy, the baked penne, artichoke, Calabrese pasta dish was really satisfying! Had been craving a good pasta for ages, let me tell you! Mario’s Bohemian cafe where the Beats hung out was too popular so we went to Cafe Trieste on Vallejo instead. This was a cool cafe. Good coffee. A young Italian couple in the corner smooching. Writers on their laptops at the back. A bearded artist with his sketch pad and pencil sitting along the wall. Mike snapping and I’m writing this post via Blogsy.
The Beat Museum, near Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore, was worth going through for the historical context of the area, as the prelude to the sixties, as well as for the Beat lore. Poor Kerouac didn’t quite last as long as the other Beats as he suffered from a terrible depression and alcoholism. Sadly, neither did his daughter. Apparently, the movie “On the Road” will be released next year. It’s inspired me to read “Women of the Beat Generation” by Brenda Knight which I downloaded from iBooks.
In the financial district we saw a few people holding up signs to drivers to honk if they support the cause against Wall St because they just lost their jobs. So what is the rest of San Francisco like, outside the centre?
In the Latino area of Mission, a friendly local took us to Fourbarrel Cafe. You could smell the coffee approaching it and see hip, young things with their bikes and take-away outside. Inside, more hip, young things in a big, warehouse type room. One wall lined with toothy hog heads. At last! Their cappuccino is like how we might find it in Sydney.The orange, ginger doughnut was scrumptious too. The toilet floor had a nature fresco painted on it. Walking along Valencia st, we browsed in and out of second hand and thrift shops selling clothes and furniture. One big one at the corner of Clarion Lane which has two grafitti murals. Mohamed Bouazizi on one side and the other side reads “There are more Africans in the US prison system today than were slaves in 1850.”
In 24th Street Castro we bought a book in Pheonix Books and bought food from the wonderfully stocked and cheap salad bar at Whole Foods Market for a picnic in Dolores park where local girls and guys and gays were sunbaking and walking their dogs. So nice to sit in the sun after the foggy mornings! Mike was impressed with the cyclists. I was impressed with their legs. They sure must have good legs, for cycling and walking up hills!
This whole area looks well to do. I did hear somewhere that hippies basically came from middle class comfortable families. The vibe in Haight St was a little strange and unfriendly as it looked more like a museum to the sixties with tour buses up and down the road, a mixture of cheap and expensive shops. Just trying too hard to be the same, we thought. You can see where the flower power generation hung out at the Victoria etc but Mission remains our favourite. Interestingly, we did talk to an activist campaigning against ‘hate groups’. Apparently, they have increased even in the Bay Area! I can’t imagine even intolerant and prejudiced people back home organising themselves into a group in order to hate something. It is bizzare to me but there seems to be a lot of it in this country. That’s why they need counter-culture!