It was o-dark-thirty when we crammed nine women, our chauffer, Barry, and multiple suitcases into a Suburban (totally illegal) and raced off to the airport for our two-day sojourn in the city by the bay, San Francisco. While waiting in line for our departure, our resident greeter, Sandi, struck up a conversation with a guy and after explaining that we were nine women traveling together to eat, drink & be merry, he dubbed it “The Weekend Without Borders.” Perfect theme for our trip!
We dropped our suitcases off at the apartment I’d found on Telegraph Hill in North Beach, in the shadow of Coit Tower, then hopped the #30 bus on Stockton & Columbus, to set off for our first, of many, meals. We needed to re-fuel for the start of our marathon holiday shopping excursion. It may sound boring, but we dined at The Burger Bar
in Macy’s on Union Square because it’s really good, basic food, convenient, and has a nice view overlooking Union Square, where they’ve installed the annual holiday ice rink. After being sufficiently stuffed, we headed in all directions to start our shopping, agreeing to meet up at 5:30. Some of us were done shopping early and decided to have a cocktail next to the rink and just take pleasure in the beautiful weather and Union Square, with it’s majestic lighted Christmas tree & wreaths in the store windows. When it was time to leave, we decided to walk back to our apartment so we could take in the cool weather that we’d all been starving for…it’s been a really hot Fall here in SoCal. We strolled up Stockton, through Chinatown, crossed Columbus and were treated to the evening splendor of North Beach landmarks, Coit Tower and Saints Peter & Paul Church, both illuminated by a spectacular full moon.
Some of the girls had lingered in Union Square and were joining us a little later. When they arrived back at the apartment they said they had secured a ride for all of us to our dinner that evening at Gamine on Union Street. At 7:40 a slick black limo arrived in front of the apartment…what a fun surprise! We all piled in and enjoyed a luxurious ride to our destination. Because there were twelve of us (my niece, Clare; Patti’s daughter, Caroline; & my best friend since first grade, Mary Kay, also joined us), we were given a back room that was the perfect size for our large party. The food was divinely French with bottles of wine, beef tartare and an amazing baked cambozola with roasted garlic and toast points, to name a few. We even had an impromptu question/answer session that Sharon started asking about our favorite and least favorite things. So many laughs and spirited, great conversation. I’d recommend Gamine!
The next morning Jerry and I were out early for a walk and a cup of coffee at my favorite old haunt, Caffe Puccini. On the way we saw lots of the locals, in organized groups, in Washington Square Park practicing their tai chi, dancing and doing slow choreographed movements with large swords…which seemed a little dangerous! The baristas at Caffe Puccini are not quite the cute little Italian ladies and men that I remember from my SF days, but the coffee & lattes were still great & the ambience perfect. As the others rolled out of bed, two by two, they decided to go right around the corner and get in line at Mama’s for breakfast. What an adorable place and there is ALWAYS a line outside! Highly recommend if you have the time to wait.
Now that we had our energy back it was time for Day Two and Union and Chestnut Streets for shopping. Both Union and Chestnut streets are lined with boutiques, chock full of some great, unique, inexpensive finds….as well as some not-so-inexpensive places. We refueled midday at a little place on Fillmore, between Union & Chestnut, called Sabrosa….upscale Mexican that was quite delish. After our afternoon shopping, our evening was to be at Caroline’s apartment, where she had prepared a nice appetizer spread and had plenty of wine waiting for us. What a great apartment! We ordered some really good wood-fired pizza that was delivered and just sat around chatting for hours….then it was back to the apartment where we stayed up and played (Ellen DeGeneres created app) Heads Up. It’s a fun game to do in a group…and you just download the app!
One of the things I’ve noticed in the short time I’ve been writing this blog is how much I’ve enjoyed how it makes me stop and be in the moment. I lived in San Francisco for 5 years in the early 80’s and walked in North Beach many times, but I noticed more things and took more pictures on this trip than ever before. Here’s a few from my walk up Lombard on the last morning of our trip.
The final stop for the group was the iconic Buena Vista Restaurant, where we toasted the end of an amazing trip, celebrating friendship & the holidays. I keep reliving the weekend in my head and it makes me smile. Same time next year with these amazing women!
You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!