After the concert, we still had another day in Santa Clara to recuperate from the excitement of the night before. I intended to visit the Winchester House, that famed dwelling of random rooms and spontaneous doors. I have always been intrigued, but when I looked on the website for more details, I was appalled by how commercial the entire enterprise had become. It looked more like a theme park than an interesting slice of history. And the ticket prices were remarkably high, so I decided against visiting. Instead, Jessica and I caught an Uber and went to the Olive Garden. It was crap, which was a total heartbreak, then we went to an outlet mall, which was also crap where we saw that movie about Minions. It had Jennifer Sa unders as one of the voice actors, so I was all right with this. I tried on a hat and failed yet again to find the one:
It was apretty lame day, so I was excited to be off to San Francisco again the next afternoon. At least my bun was whimsical:
The Uber driver that took us to the Caltrain was an Egyptian man named Atef, so I was thrilled. The Egyptian accent is one of my favorites, and that’s surely biased because I think everything Egyptian is perfection. But it’s melodic and kind, and I was enchanted by Atef and his suggestions for restaurants and shops and sights to see when we arrived in San Francisco later that day.
The train ride was lengthy, but I got a considerable bit of writing out of the way on the nearly two-hour journey north. I also managed to read some quality literature:
After we got off the train, I loaded a map to the apartment we had rented and it didn’t look difficult at all to get to. But I was mistaken. It was quite a jaunt and we would have been better off getting a car. I don’t regret that decision, though, because it allowed me to learn about a side of San Francisco that I had never experienced and had only read about in books: The Tenderloin.
Odd name for a district, and it lived up to its reputation for seediness and a massive homeless population. I am not wary of people. I have only came across a few people in my life that have actually caused my true fear. That lady with a knife on the bus in LA was one. The man that stalked us in Hackney was another. And the last was a crazy man in Chicago who threatened to kill me on the train. That was probably as scared as I’ll ever be. But through my many experiences around the world I have come to understand that homeless people aren’t really frightening, they’re just unfortunate, and I never know what to do about them. I can’t give them money…I’d have to give them all money. I don’t want to talk to them because that never ends well. I wish that the city could find housing and opportunities for them, but I’m no politician. It’s just unfortunate.
Jessica is flighty, so she was more worried about the area we were in, and I certainly felt a sense of wariness. We were thrilled to find the building where we were staying. We were much less thrilled when we got to the room.
The host was wonderful. The building was fine. It’s just…we’re used to a higher standard of living. I’m not trying to sound unbearably pompous, but that’s the fact of the matter. I am accustomed to sleeping in a king sized mattress with a pillow top liner and Egyptian cotton sheets. This room had a bunkbed with mattresses that were thinner than some books I have. The lights (that worked) were dim. The room itself was the size of a walk-in closet. I wasn’t thrilled. The Internet worked, though.
Jessica burst into tears as soon as the host left. It certainly wasn’t a promising start to our week in San Francisco, but it was what it was. There wasn’t any soap.
Once Jessica had calmed down, and I had assured myself that all the windows locked, we hurried off to find some food. Jessica was craving Noodles & Company, so we went down to one we had seen along the way that didn’t include a walk through the Tenderloin. We were on the border of the district and incredibly close to Union Square, so it wasn’t hard to sidestep the bad vibes and pop onto a street that sold Picasso paintings. That was a comfort. There was a Louis Vuitton and a Chanel and a giant Macy’s and a nice park and everything was fine.
After lunch, Jessica couldn’t take any more — she’s been awfully sickly on this trip, which I’m sure you remember from my increasingly infamous blogpost, “The Camel on the Bus” — and so she went back to the apartment to recuperate while I went out to see the city.
I like nothing better than roaming around and making discoveries, but I also enjoy revisiting favorite haunts. That’s why Paris has the mandatory journeys to Iolanda, the McCafé, Père Lachaise, and the Mosquée. A place that I had adored for its nonsensical pretension was the Nespresso boutique on Grant Avenue. In the two years I’ve been away, they’ve only become worse. And by worse, I mean better. The simply sell espresso machines and ready-to-go pods, but somehow they’ve made the experience comparable to visiting a Saint Laurent shop. I appreciate that. I made myself comfortable to do some people watching and ordered an espresso and a slice of opera cake.
I’m obsessed with opera cakes, but I rarely make them at home because I refuse to allow myself to eat the entirety of an opera cake, and because opera cakes take centuries to make with all those layers of ganache and cake and buttercream. Maybe when I get back home I’ll make a batch. It is awfully good.
From there I beat my feet up and down Market Street…oh no…it’s happening again…
Oh the Ferry building was a joy, reader, as it always is.
I felt just like Ina Garten did in that iconic episode where she went shopping and Jeffrey made wine and they had the most perfect picnic in the middle of a secluded vineyard. They have it all. Truly, they are #relationshipgoals. I want to be them. Both of them. Well, Ina more. She’s too fabulous.
Anyway, I bought sourdough boules, macarons, a wide variety of cheeses, wine that came in a can, and more that I was going to force-feed myself that night like a duck being fattened up to become fois gras.
I had a charming walk past all the boutiques and then I gorged whilst looking around at our little dorm room in a state of alarm. It really is a dorm room, readers; it is just used as this rental during the summer vacations. I’m glad I never went to traditional college. I’m not made for that.
Oh, I also need about fifty of these planters for the country house: