What I did in San Francisco: Visiting for the first time in 15 years

If I'm 100% honest, this post took me way too long to write. I over thought everything and almost talked myself out of writing it altogther simply because it was mostly an overwhelming trip for a small town girl like myself. While I'd love to be able to call this a San Francisco city guide, I just can't... mainly for 3 reasons: this is only about the 4th time in my life that I've been to San Francisco, it's been 15 years since I last visited, annnnd I'm really not a city girl after all (I may have once thought I was back in high school when moving to London and becoming a fashion designer seemed as easy as baking cookies). So instead, I'm opting to simply write about my experience visiting, what I did, what I thought, and how I felt and hope that you'll be able to take away something from all of that.

I wanted to visit SF because out of all the cities in California, it was literally the one I have visited/or passed through the least. It wasn't my intention to avoid this city, it just happened and finally, I realized, hey, I might actually be missing out on something! So, I finally booked the trip and in somewhat of a nutshell, here's what happened.

Day 1: 
Arrived by train late afternoon in Oakland, an apparently simple 15 minute drive to SF. This made the train trip about 2 hours shorter. But, if you're not familiar with all the public transportation options (ahem, like me), you're in for an unnecessary bout of confusion. Long story short, next time I'm just going to take the Amtrak bus-train-bus route straight to SF even if it does take longer. Driving wasn't an option for me because I just can't deal with that kind of traffic. Don't judge me.

Upon arrival, I was shocked to find my hotel was in a less than desirable area (for this reason, I won't be naming the hotel nor will I be naming the neighborhood because in this day and age with google, I have no excuse for making such a rookie mistake). Basically, I was a little overwhelmed (putting it mildly) by the extreme shadiness of this area (also, seeing a guy get mugged the next day from across the street didn't exactly put me at ease) And no, it wasn't Chinatown, in case the picture misleads you ;)


Day 1 (continued): 
Wanted to find a place to eat before it got dark out and found a Mexican fusion place. Retired to hotel room early in an attempt to recuperate for the next day.

Day 2: 
Haight-Ashbury was at the top of my list. I've been watching so many classic films lately that I wanted to get a real feel for all things vintage and not having been there since the last time I visited SF, I felt much more mature and educated now and able to appreciate the whole vibe. I found a few treasures at the Goodwill there (I saw so many great coats and furniture that unfortunately, I have no need for IRL).

Lunch was a memorable one as my mom and I chose Gus's Community Market on Haight St., a very charming market that seems to be popular with locals and tourists alike. I got an unforgettably delicious sandwich that I still dream about often. After, I walked as far as I could while taking in the famous neighborhood (important to note, it's hard to find public bathrooms in this area but Whole Foods and McDonalds are a sure thing) but eventually decided on taking a bus the rest of the way ($2.50 is a price for one way trips on the public bus, fyi- I definitely recommend just riding and seeing where it takes you- that's honestly one of the best ways to see the city unless you're a snob who doesn't like to ride buses, which I won't hold against you too much because hi, I'm a bus snob too...)


Day 3: 
Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf. Met up with family and ate at a place on Fisherman's Wharf called Aliotos. It's good to be aware that anything on Fisherman's wharf (a.k.a. tourist trap) is going to be a little more expensive and the food is usually not the best quality because most tourists only eat at a restaurant once and usually never return. That said, you can't go wrong with the view. My ultimate suggestion would be to wander a short distance from the Wharf to find a lesser known restaurant and hope that it turns out to be a hidden gem (utilizing Yelp helps too, of course, but I found that it was a bit inconvenient to have to search and read through Yelp before making any decision- it kind of takes away from the whole in-the-moment adventurous state of mind).

Chinatown was also on my list for things to see this time around. I have a background in Asian American studies and wanted to apply some of what I've learned by experiencing some of the historical buildings and just take in the overall atmosphere. One thing on my list I'll have to do whenever I decide to take a trip to San Francisco again would be Angel Island/Alcatraz. SF is just so rich with history that even if it's out of my comfort zone, it'll be worth visiting again a lot sooner than 15 years from now!

In conclusion: 
Overall, SF is a beautiful place, I can understand why it's one of the most popular cities on the west coast. What I initially did was make a firm list of everything I HAD to see in SF and made sure to do those things first but was also more than prepared to just wander with no particular agenda in mind. This is the kind of city you want to explore alone or with just one other person so that you can do everything your heart desires and not be held back. I may be one of the few who didn't leave her heart in San Francisco, but that doesn't mean I didn't heart it.
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Classic films I've recently watched

Image via Google search from the film, "Love with the Proper Stranger"

So... I kinda stayed away for a bit longer than expected. I've just been feeling uninspired and unmotivated lately so instead, I've been getting lost in one of my favorite pastimes (watching films that are older than floppy disks). As a result, and as promised in this post, I'd like to share some of the classic films I've recently watched/enjoyed. I've chosen a few of the ones that really stood out to me and hope that my thoughts and opinions on these films will convince you to watch them at some point in your life.

Love With the Proper Stranger (1963): 
According to Amazon's description, "Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen star as a charming, footloose musician and the innocent Macy's salesgirl who is carrying his child." This film covers some pretty controversial topics (abortion being one of them) for the time but as with most classic films, the heavy topics are presented in a way that leaves much of it to your imagination (ahem, unlike the movies these days). In fact, this film still manages to be a comedy/drama rolled into one and it's engaging all the way through. 

An extra bonus is Natalie's style in this film- it's so, so... 1963 and just well, classic. I usually like seeing Natalie in color films (some actors just look a lot better in color than in black and white but if you're Natalie Wood, I guess you look good either way) but I honestly think the fact that it's black and white doesn't take away from how great the film is. It's definitely my favorite Natalie Wood film so far. I also have to mention Steve McQueen, who I am still relatively unfamiliar with but he was a perfect match to Natalie's character in the film and I'll be sure to look out for more of his work. 

Where to Watch: I found it for rent on Amazon but liked it so much, I'm now on the hunt for the dvd. (edited to add: I just saw on Amazon that it's due to be released on dvd in September! Perfect timing!) 

Side-note: Having only been familiar with Natalie Wood as a child actress (hello, Miracle on 34th Street), I was never quite interested in her work as an adult actress until recently. I think now that I'm an official "adult", I can appreciate more of her dramatic performances in her later films and am actually excited to see more of her work. Random side-note: I found it funny that in Love with the Proper Stranger, Natalie's character works at Macy's and I remembered that Natalie's mother (Maureen O'Hara) on Miracle on 34th Street was in charge of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. 

If it's Tuesday, This Must be Belgium (1969):
Okay, so, admittedly, I initially only watched this film because the beauty that is Suzanne Pleshette stars in it and I'm on an unintentional mission to watch every film she's ever appeared in. But anyway, this is basically a comedy film about a group of typically eccentric American tourists traveling around Europe on a tour bus and, somewhat predictably, the tour guide (Ian McShane) falls for American tourist, Samantha Perkins (Suzanne Pleshette). It was so reminiscent of my experience traveling to Ireland (will we ever get off the bus?! "I feel like I was born on this bus!") that I really connected with it. There are some pretty quirky characters in this which makes for a very laid-back, feel-good film.

Where to Watch: Well, if I'm honest, it's on YouTube if you search hard/smart enough ;) Otherwise, unfortunately it's not available to stream for rent. I ended up buying the actual dvd because I knew it'd be one I'd watch more than once.

The Mating Season (1951):
I feel like this is probably the least known of the films I've mentioned here (actually, that's a lie because I'm sure almost none of you had heard of the Belgium film either) but it stars Gene Tierney, John Lund and Thelma Ritter as his mother. Basically, Gene Tierney ends up mistaking her mother-in-law (Thelma Ritter) for the new maid and it turns into one awkward situation. This is another feel-good comedy film that really makes you wonder if something like this has happened in real life. In case you're wondering (okay, I'm sure you weren't...), my favorite Gene Tierney film is The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, which we'll have to talk about another time...

Where to watch: YouTube is basically the only option I found unless you want to buy the dvd...

So there you have it. I've actually watched a ton more films since writing this but I'm just throwing a few titles at you at a time because otherwise, it's overwhelming how many wonderful classic films are out there. Watching old films serves as a huge source of inspiration for me, style-wise and overall, with my creative endeavors. I like to imagine myself in a world that occurred way before I was born. A world that seemingly presented a more classy outer appearance. I know I tend to romanticize these times more than I should but really, what's the harm?
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Any Way the Wind Blows: a day of kite flying

Photo Jul 10, 1 13 58 AM
kite flying
blue top
Photo Jul 11, 1 06 41 AM

You'll have to excuse me for being a bit MIA lately. It's summer and all I feel like doing is being outdoors or reading a book - just me?

First time flying a kite since I was about 7. I really don't know why this is only about the 2nd time in my life I've flown a kite. I guess it's one of those activities that you forget to do but when you do, it instantly brings a joy that you didn't realize was missing. It really brought me into a peaceful state of mind when just hours before I had been worried and restless like the adulting adult that society is forcing me to be. I realize how important it is to just let go and be free...
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