I have been to San Francisco perhaps 8 times over the past 30 years. And was going to visit with my other half – so we tried to find some things I had never done – that would still show him the city.
We stayed at the same place I had stayed about 25 years earlier – The Parker House. It used to be a gay guesthouse – and is now all AirBNB’d up, with a mix of gays, lesbians and straight couples at the breakfast tables. Well located for the gay nightlife, and sightseeing. The F Tram is right at the door too.
Anyway, here are some of the things we did.
The Love Bug
It’s a 2 1/2 hour Volkswagen tour of the city with a real live hippy – starting at Fisherman’s wharf, and covering all parts of the city from the Presidio, to Haight Ashbury, Twin Peaks and much more. There was also a very sneaky hidden spot for a Golden Gate Bridge photo.
What else did we learn on this tour? Well that virtually all the headquarters of the internet giants are there – and their taxes mean that the city taxes for the residents are virtually zero. When we finished, we took the cable car to the top of Lombard St, and walked down to North Beach to meet our next tour.
North Beach Walking Tour
We selected this as the online description said it also went past the entrance to “Barbary Lane” from Tales of the City. As it turned out, it didn’t. But we didn’t mind. The Little Italy tour stopped in at 8 restaurants for a taste of their specialties, and a few artisan stores as well. Amazing food culture – including a peek into where the gay life was situated BEFORE the Castro was a thing.
Chinatown Food Tour
Starting in the heart of San Francisco, we wove our way through a myriad of shops and restaurants, tasting all sorts of amazing Chinese dishes. Ending up with a tea shop where we learnt about the properties of the various styles of tea – and no, green tea is not the best tea for slimming!
The Pier Building is where the cruise ships dock in the centre of San Francisco – so we decided to combine a tour of the food hall (with a fab queen who arranged tastings of 6 different traders over 2 hours). It was a great way to combine brunch, some history, and getting to where we needed to be for the afternoon at Alcatraz.
Cruising the Castro
There has been a guided walking tour of the Castro since the early 80’s. And when the original dude retired in 1989, Kathy took over the tours. We booked through our Travel Agent, and met her at the massive rainbow flag pole in The Castro. Over the next 2 hours she walked us through a variety of sites, telling us about the history, the people, the places, the scandals, and the mundane. The AIDS Quilt. The dude who has an exhibit of Hot Barbie & Kinky Ken dolls on his window sill. And to the camera store where Harvey Milk worked, and to the primary school named in his honour – where the true meaning of Equality, and his heritage of humanism, is really a beacon to show the way of the future.