Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Flowers in my hair

San Francisco! 

It appears we brought the summer with us, leaving Sydney in forty degree heat and arriving in what should have been biting late winter temperatures ...but is in fact balmy and bright. 

"You'll love San Fran," everyone told us, "it's just like Sydney." Well, it's a bit like Sydney in that it is on a harbour and and the town planning is a little hotch potch. The building scale is somewhat similar too, but the similarities end there. 

For Sydney hasn't 't got the Alameda market, the only flea market in the world that defeated me. There are over 800 stalls and I managed to get through about 600. It's not on the tourist trail - you have to take a train out to the suburbs, then hop on a little bus that winds its way through naval housing and shipping yards to take you to a large dock where, of all things, the geese are stopping by on their way home to Canada. 

But then you get the markets. Oh my, the markets. 

I would have bought that dresser on the spot if I could have fitted it in my luggage. 

Another way San Francisco differs from Sydney is the honesty at flea markets. The market dealers are very upfront about the items they sell. They'll tell you if a piece has been repaired, if it's original ... and they'll very happily bargain with you. Which is why I ended up buying so much stuff, which you'll see in a couple of days time. 

And in Sydney, no one brings me porridge and the morning papers with a gobsmacking view: 

Other things San Francisco has that Sydney doesn't is giant seagulls. 

 And half and half. I love half and half. 
We took the ferry out to Alcatraz today. I have a lot of reservations about the prison system in general, and find visiting any historical site that was used to incarcerate people monumentally depressing. Walking through the cells of Alcatraz made me feel that way, but the island itself is very beautiful and any sadness that lingers is gradually being overgrown with masses of flowers and colonies of wild birds. And there were amazing daisies.

The other thing that Sydney doesn't have is garlic fries. While I was scoffing these tonight I thought quite seriously about moving here permanently just to eat these every night. 

Tomorrow we're going to walk the hills and take the cable cars to various neighbourhoods to learn the other ways San Francisco is different from Sydney. 

And you think there is something is missing you're right - I have done loads of inappropriate shopping and made quite a nuisance of myself in several stores. I even got fitted for bras by a very persuasive young woman in Nordstroms. She simply wouldn't let me make a purchase until she fitted me with a tape measure. Turns out I, like (allegedly) 85% of the world's female population, have been wearing the wrong size bra. "Told you so," she said smugly. (I bought five.) 

So tomorrow, the loot so far. Meanwhile, here we are admiring the succulents at Alcatraz: