As a renegade third-generation San Franciscan, I have long yearned to return home to my city by the bay. At last, with the global pandemic restricting our far-flung international travel plans, we have arrived in San Francisco for a month-long visit.
This month, our San Francisco home is a rental apartment in Cole Valley, a small neighborhood bordering Haight-Ashbury and Golden Gate Park. From this convenient base, we will climb the city’s hills, admire its sweeping views, peruse its Victorian architecture and historical monuments, and contemplate its liberal attitudes and international character.
Because San Francisco is infamous for its cold summers, we waited until October, after the notoriously chilly months of Fogust and Septembrrr. So far, the city’s mostly sunny and warm days, with a bit of natural foggy air conditioning, have made for perfect walking weather.
Walking San Francisco’s hilly streets has been part of our daily routine. Not to belittle the seven hills of Rome, but San Francisco was built on 48 of them. Instead of taking the little cable cars halfway to the stars, we have reached the hilltops using the city’s countless steps and discreet stairways.
Lest you think we climb steps strictly for our cardio-vascular health, the city also rewards us stair-masters with stunning panoramic hilltop views. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I am certainly biased, but San Francisco is arguably the most beautiful city in the world.
Enhancing San Francisco’s splendor are its lovely late 19th century Victorian homes. Beginning in the 1960s, colorists added additional vibrance and zest to many of these decorative redwood homes. During our city walks, we frequently stop dead in our tracks to behold the artistry and elegance of these “painted ladies”.
Our walks have also brought us face-to-face with San Francisco’s many other magnificent historical structures and monuments. The Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio, and Telegraph Hill are just a few of the city sights officially registered as California Historical Landmarks.
San Francisco’s more recent history is also characterized by its strong sense of liberal open-mindedness. From the literary beat generation bohemians of the 1950s, to the hippie counterculture age of the 1960s, and gay rights movement of the 1970s, the city’s broad-minded attitude fosters an environment conducive to progressive thinking.
Enlightened and inclusive convictions also helped shape San Francisco’s international personality. In a single day, a walk through the city’s neighborhoods transports us to Asia, Europe, Latin America, and beyond. Perhaps, during the global pandemic, the next best thing to international travel is a visit to multi-cultural San Francisco?
With our international travel plans still on hold, we are delighted to return to San Francisco for a one-month visit. Here, we will walk the hilly streets, take in the city’s beauty, and better understand its history and liberal personality. After many years, it feels groovy to be back in my city by the bay.
Blogger’s Note: My mother and grandmother were both born in the month of October in San Francisco. Even though I was delivered in Burlingame, eight miles south of San Francisco, I still consider myself a third-generation San Franciscan. As a baby, we moved to Marin County, where I grew up 15 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Happy birthday, Mom!