While waiting in the lobby for Craig to finish his hair, Marie and I watched a lady order 2 guys around as they wrestled a large-screen LCD TV up to her room. She was telling someone on her iPhone that “I hate the crappy TV’s in hotels these days.”
I do not understand this. But, as they say, whatever.
Today we took a bus tour of San Francisco.
This was given by our friendly, but hyper, tour guide Nicole. Apparently fluent in several languages, she often seemed to forget the nationality of her group that day, and would frequently switch into Italian, French, Spanish, or German at random intervals for a few sentences before returning to English. This made the monologue confusingly entertaining. She’d often refer to us as her “love children” and herself as “Mama Nicole.” So while trouping around you’d hear her say stuff like “My love children, follow Mama Nicole this way!” You'd think this would get you some weird looks, but in San Francisco they're used to such. You get the impression Nicole has been doing this forever.
We walked down Lombard street, which is clearly one of the worst places in the world to buy a house. Your street is constantly jammed with tourists driving down it bumper-to-bumper, tourists walking down the sidewalks and taking pictures of cars full of other tourists weaving slowly back and forth, and tourists randomly walking out into the middle of the street to take selfies of themselves with cars coming downhill behind them driven by other tourists. I have to wonder how many of those pics ended up being in their obituary when they get mowed down. Those who live here have to deal with pulling in & out of their driveway with this mess going on.
We stopped and briefly toured Grace Cathedral. This lovely building has a stained glass window celebrating one of my heroes, Albert Einstein.
There are also windows for John Glenn, Jane Addams, Robert Frost, and Thurgood Marshall.
Heading elsewhere, Mama Nicole had us go look at the city's famous row of Victorian houses.
She really outdid herself on this one. As we stood in a nearby park looking at them, she said "These are some of San Francisco's Victorian houses, and this group is called the Painted Ladies, also Postcard Row. This is because so many postcards of San Francisco feature this group of Victorian Houses, or Painted Ladies. As a result, they call it Postcard Row, because it features the Painted Ladies, which is this group of Victorian Houses." Then she switched to German.
The timing is great on this sort of tour. You frequently heard Mama Nicole say stuff like, "This is a lovely building, so many things to see, so be sure to explore it all and enjoy. It's 10:45 right now, so let's meet back at the bus at 10:47 so we can head to our next destination."
A teenage kid on the tour began complaining about not having had lunch yet starting at around 9:30 in the morning, and only kept getting louder about it. At 10:00 it was “unreasonable.” By 11:00 it was “unbelievable” that we hadn’t had lunch. 11:30 he was pleading with his parents to discontinue the tour so he wouldn’t starve to death. When we finally did stop in Sausalito for lunch he was apparently on his deathbed, until he began arguing with his parents about where they should stop for lunch. When they picked a place he didn't like, he refused to eat lunch.
We took a ferry back to San Francisco, then walked through the Market Building and passed this place:
Later on we toured the U.S.S. Pampanito, a WW2 submarine. If you've never been aboard a WW2 sub, it's definitely something to do. You walk through the cramped spaces and imagine spending more than 2 months at a time inside. Today's nuclear behemoths are luxurious in comparison, and they ain't that big, either.
To give you an idea, here's Marie, at 5'4", standing next to a hatch that, when on patrol, a bunch of big guys had to race through when the alarm sounded:
There was another ship at the pier, the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien, but I'll talk more about her another time. She's a good story.
Tonight we met with numerous family members for dinner in Chinatown, where my kids where horrified by some of the things we passed hanging in grocery store windows.
If I have any regrets about San Francisco, it's being here 31 years too late for my kids to see the infamous waiter Edsel Ford Fong in action. I'd prefer that to the hyperpeppy types you get at TGI Fridays and such.