My roommates were still sleeping when I awoke, so I quietly made my way out of the room to breakfast. The hostel offered a free breakfast, in the cafe which overlooked the bay. The cafe was nearly empty, a group of Austrian girls the only other patrons. I sat looking out the window, watching as the bay steadily picked up activity. After breakfast and what can only be described as an excessive amount of time staring out the window, I decided to head back out for a walk. I took the same route as the night before, but this time it was mostly filled with men working to get the shops and restaurants stocked for the day. Delivery trunks jostled for position along the narrow boardwalk street, while a series of men ran in and out of closed shops with the days shipment.
A small exhibit of old ships caught my eye and I decided to walk down the pier they were moored to and have a look. A few of the ships I was allowed to go on and look around. I had the ships to myself, walking through their historic quarters. The Eureka use to be a ferry that ran across the bay, before the bridges took over her duties. In fact, the Eureka use to be part of Route 101, it’s place taken by The Golden Gate Bridge. Her cargo hold was filled with classic cars, representing cars that would have been ferried across in her heyday.
The second ship was a large merchant ship, in the style most associate with pirate ships. The San Francisco bay use to be much more abustle with activity, which of course begs the question how they didn’t all manage to collide in the fog. The ships tall masts climbed into the clouds, behind her outstretched the city of San Francisco, glowing softly in the cloud defused sunlight.
By the time I left the ship the shops on the boardwalk had opened and the first of the days patrons were strolling around blissfully. An advertiser for one of the local toy shops was outside blowing giant bubbles as kids scurried about trying to pop them. The few bubbles that managed to escape floated high into the sky, their effervescence carrying the eyes of a group enjoying a crab lunch at a table. I decided to head away from the water, to see what else the city had to offer, and the answer is hills. In fact, if these monstrosities, which people have chosen to build and live on, were still wild I would have no issue calling them mountainous, or even cliffs, their steepness unmatched by any urban setting I have yet to wander. The houses climbed up the hill clinging on, looking like dominoes on the verge of a rally.
Up higher views shot down to the street below as cable cars easier their way along the demanding routes. The streets were crowded with pedestrians, apparently the citizenry of San Fran unfazed by the daily workout of traversing such terrain, or maybe it was just easier than shelling out $20 for parking. The city seemed to have it’s own personality, it didn’t feel like other cities, it didn’t feel like a city at all really, not in the American sense, it felt much more European, the short squat businesses, the crowds of pedestrians, the ratios of buses and trolleys to cars. Somehow even though everyone was racing off to somewhere to do something it all seemed laid back, calm, like a flash mob of persons on a peaceful sunday stroll through a park.
After awhile I grew hungry, as walking miles tends to do to a person, and I saw a sign for a “Pittsburgh Style Sandwich,” which of course peeked my curiosity, so I went in. The place was adorned in Steelers paraphernalia, the television sets all showing a hockey game, I sat down and order a sandwich and a beer and stared lovingly as I watched the cook prepare my sandwich on a flattop grill in front of me. The hot capicola sandwich was delicious, a reminder that no matter how far you travel, someone has done it before, and was nice enough to bring lunch.
As I headed back towards my hostel, I stopped in a small gelato place and bought some of the frozen italian concoction to enjoy as I strolled back. It was a quick walk back, made so by the plethora of people and the distracting ensemble of flamboyant shops that boarder the street.
Back at the hostel I packed up and headed off to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and stay at another hostel in Golden Gate Recreation Area, just over the bridge. The bridge was covered in it’s majestic fog, which again allows one to believe they are leaving this Earth for another. And the transformation is almost as amazing. On the south side of the bridge you are fighting with traffic as you crawl through the city. Then you cross the bridge, the orange painted metal surrounds you, the only thing you can see inside the fog, then the fog recedes and you’re on the other side. On the north side of the bridge you are surrounded by nature, a dark green covers the landscape.
I turned off and headed up into the hills, my hostel hidden somewhere in the maze of roads that crisscrossed throughout Marin Headlands Park. I pulled over at a vista, the Golden Gate was completely erased from the scenery, the buildings on the other side of the bay, where I had been only minutes before, seemed like foreign outposts. I headed deeper into the park as the sun disappeared form the sky. Soon I was searching in darkness, I climbed up hills and was shrouded in fog, then back down hills where the fog hung just above the car, a blanket covering the world.
I found the hostel, which had almost no guests, just one family, a talkative old lady and a Russian man, who would be my only roommate that evening. Outside the silence was only permeated by the distance sound of the ocean, the air stood still in the valley where the hostel was, the fog slowly lowering taking away the little bit of light cast from the hostels windows. Inside I made myself some dinner and grabbed a book from the shelf, reading in the living room. A small fire flickered in the stove, the only means of heat for the living room, it’s comforting glow reflected bounced around the room, as the night drifted off.