Friday, March 19, 2010

Californicated


Oh yes, there was that little trip to San Francisco. Forgot to blog about that. Hardly worth mentioning, was it? [thud] [thud]

We were only there for five days; enough to see all the famous bits but not to go in depth, or to venture out to greater California. The bay itself is as impressive as you'd expect, and yes, there are lots of trams (sorry, streetcars) going up and down lots of hills. But otherwise, the popular image of Fr'isco - as least as I understood it - was fairly absent from what we experienced. Hippy culture? Virtually invisible. Arts scene? Present and correct, but hardly superior to any major western city. Homosexuals? :-) Well, my gaydar might not be the sharpest tool in the box, but I'm sure I've seen gayer-looking villages in the Cotswolds.

Certainly the city's best-kept secret, however, is its homelessness problem. Certain areas of downtown feel like the Third World, and I was certainly more comfortable - and less ashamed of my comfort - on the streets of Havana. Not good.

If there was a theme to my experience of the atmosphere of SF, it was "faded glory" - lovely when chilling in the quiet, architecurally eclectic uphill neighbourhoods, but rather grim when faced with the more prosaic civic decay near the waterfront. She's a sadder, wiser city than the one we know from the clich├ęs. I only wish we'd had more time to get to know her better.