27 August 2006

And Now, Back to My San Francisco Travelogue

Once we escaped the unpunctuated flier, the trip was fabulous. How could it not be? We were, after all, in San Francisco — the perfect place to escape reality, to distract us from the sad anniversary. We left humidity in the nineties for clear blue skies and the seventies, Southern traditional for northern Californian bohemian.

We've been to San Francisco many times, so we didn’t have to waste hours hitting all the tourist spots. We hung out in our favorite neighborhoods, hit our favorite restaurants. Just relaxed and had a good time.

Not to brag, but I am one of the all-time great travel companions. Once I leave the metro Atlanta area, I become this laidback chick. I’ll do pretty much what you want to and forgo my desire to wander the halls of the town’s art museum. Or maybe I’m just a wuss.


After checking into the hotel, we went down to Fisherman’s Wharf. We skipped the line of thousands waiting to ride the cable cars and just wandered around. I scored some major bauble booty among all the local booths, those stationed to relieve tourists of their heavy wallets — but I got some fabulous rings and bracelets for next to nothing.

Looking down the street next to Ghiradelli Square

Mama wanted to have dinner at Scoma’s, one of OM’s favorite seafood restaurants. Ridiculously expensive, but damn good. I inhaled a seafood cannelloni I'm still dreaming about.

Coit Tower and the Transamerica Building, from Scoma’s

We were both worn out from the long travel day, so we crashed early. And happy. We were, after all, in San Francisco.


We slept well (eight sweet, straight hours of log-sawing!), in Mama’s version of heaven: in Union Square, looking down on her favorite Macy’s in the world.

Union Square at dusk, from our hotel room

If you’re staying in Union Square, there are three things you simply must do: Shop. Shop. Shop. And shop we did. I won’t list every store hit or bauble bought, but the Capital One got quite the workout.

I bought. The most. Fabulous. Pair of shoes. At Macy’s. For about 90 percent off.

These Anne Klein wedges be kicking out the jams at next month’s Georgia Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony for R.E.M., Gregg Allman, Jermaine Dupri, Dallas Austin, and Felice Bryant.

We had dinner at my favorite Chinese anywhere: House of Nanking. It’s a hole-in-the-wall (now doubled in size) that serves the best food. Even better: Sometimes you order an entrée and they decide to instead recommend and serve you a specially made dish, and Mama got that treat. My West Coast doppelganger (as a doppelganger, it makes sense that House of Nanking would also be her favorite San Francisco restaurant) recommended the fried eggplant appetizer, and it was amazing. (And yes, Dan, I slurped down and enjoyed every mouthful of their hot-and-sour soup). If you’re headed to San Francisco, this is the restaurant I urge you to try.

House of Nanking. Eat your hungry hearts out.

This was the one-year anniversary of OM’s death, so it was special to spend it together. We reminisced about him all day, retelling our favorite stories, laughing a lot, crying a little, and praying for him and us. I think we both got to the other side of the grief. But, damn, I still miss him.


We started the day at Starbucks, sitting at the window counter enjoying muffins, croissants, and the triple grande nonfat latte. Great seat for watching people. Brian Setzer walked by with his blonde wife and two beautiful blonde little girls; Mama thought he was dressed a little weird.

We spent the morning on Union Street, hitting the (now ridiculously priced) boutiques and enjoying the beautiful day out of doors, out of the office, out of state. We still found things to buy, though.

There was an old theater on Union Street playing Little Miss Sunshine, so we caught the afternoon matinee. Both of us laughed the entire time.

We ended the day over dinner at Trattoria Contadina, an Italian restaurant in Russian Hill our family’s been frequenting since 1994. We walked back to the hotel, enjoying the stroll through North Beach and Chinatown.

Mama in Chinatown, on the postprandial stroll from the restaurant.

I love the Transamerica Building, almost as much as the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s the landmark I watch for on the drive from the airport; once I see it, I know I’m there. I take way too many photos during every trip, but I always enjoy each shot.

The Transamerica Building, from Chinatown

And that covers the first part of the trip. Next installment: the wine country tour.

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At 8/27/2006 11:47:00 PM, Blogger Old Lady said...

This is the next best thing to being there. Love the shoes and your mama is a very pretty woman. Have fun at the Ga Music Hall of Fame. I'll be watching it on PBS.

At 8/27/2006 11:57:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

Guess what? The shoes are surprisingly comfortable! On induction night, I'll wave at you from the audience.

My mother is a beautiful woman. The thing is, that's actually a pretty bad photo of her; makes her look heavy. But her beauty still comes through.

I'm enjoying the post myself; using it to relive the trip.

At 8/28/2006 03:59:00 AM, Blogger barista brat said...

i'm really enjoying the recap of your trip!

and those shoes are truly fabulous. they would go perfect with a dress i bought in grenoble last year. they don't happen to be a size 6 do they? haha.

i love your presentation on the red satin as well.

can't wait for the next installment.

At 8/28/2006 05:10:00 AM, Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

Scoma's is the best, but I hate the no reservations policy. Try the Pasta Politicana next time. My favorite is Izzy's, the best steak in the City (F**K Ruth Chris's!) and it still has most of its speakeasy atomsphere intact.

You have to go southwest of the Golden Gate, or west of the Castro if you want to see San Francisco.

At 8/28/2006 07:42:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

BRAT: Glad you're enjoying the recap. The shoes are a 7.5, and were the only pair in the store. Try one of your Macy's. (And I love how you snuck in "I bought in Grenoble").

WRITEPROCRASTINATOR: I generally hit all the different neighborhoods when I'm in San Francisco ... but I went where my mom most wanted to go on this trip.

At 8/28/2006 07:51:00 AM, Blogger Marni said...

Loves me some Brian Setzer.

Wish I could have been there with you guys... not because of the Stray Cat, but because I would love to spend time travelling with you and your mama.

Thanks for the recap. I'm living vicariously through you... someday...

At 8/28/2006 08:47:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

Great recap, I've never been but it's on my shortlist of places I'd like to visit. I always hear great things about it.

I'm glad you and your Mom had a good time on what could have been an even more difficult weekend.

At 8/28/2006 10:49:00 AM, Anonymous bookfraud said...

you lucky girl. sf is about as close to perfect a city as there is in the world. the pictures made me jealous. you do seem like a great travel companion indeed. want to see the canadian rockies next week with wife and me?

At 8/28/2006 05:23:00 PM, Blogger Coaster Punchman said...

Now I'm hungry for Chinese, and George is away until midnight. Damn! (insert fist waving in the air.)

At 8/28/2006 05:50:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

I'd like some chinese food too.

At 8/28/2006 07:55:00 PM, Anonymous judith said...

Your mother IS pretty and I have heard her SISTER is also!

Must be where some of your beauty came from.

At 8/28/2006 08:37:00 PM, Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I'd love the Bauble Booth! Silver rings and earrings are my weakness! And you said a fair price? Even better!

At 8/28/2006 08:41:00 PM, Anonymous m said...

i am so glad you loved the eggplant..but damn you! you have made me hungry...

and girl, if your mom is gorgeous!

At 8/29/2006 06:54:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

MARNI: Vicarious away ... and I'll live vicariously through you and the kids.

DALE: You should definitely plan a trip; you'd love it.

BOOKFRAUD: I've never been to the Canadian Rockies! What time are we leaving?

COASTER PUNCHMAN: Hope you got your, um, Chinese fix late last night.

GRANT MILLER: I would, too, actually ...

JUDITH: Yep, that sister of hers is one hottie ...

MOTHER OF INVENTION: Silver rings for $10-15, bracelets for $15. A baubler's paradise.

M: I want that eggplant and some hot-and-sour soup for lunch. And, yes, Mama is a beauty ... and that's a bad photo of her.

At 8/30/2006 05:28:00 PM, Blogger Coaster Punchman said...

Um, I did actually mean Chinese food... I just wanted George to make it. But I appreciate that my comment sounded tawdry without my even trying.

At 8/30/2006 05:32:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

Sometimes our true selves can't help but come through, Coaster Punchman.


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