Monday, February 9, 2009

Tales from the city.

Felix and I headed to San Francisco for a few days of fun and festivities. The main reason for our trip will be the subject of another post. But I’ll start with our first day and night.

We arrived Saturday evening on a flight that arrived a full 30 minutes early. But we lost all of that time on the cab ride to the hotel. It was the big Chinese New Year parade and our hotel was at ground zero, Union Square. With so many streets closed, it took forever to get to our hotel.

We stayed at the Hotel Handlery (once again a story for another post) and after finding our room, we immediately went to witness one of the ten largest parades in the country and the “only remaining illuminated parade.” It was really crowded and almost impossible to see anything so we went back to our room and watched it live on TV where it was narrated by Benjamin Fong-Torres. (I’m still trying to wrap my head around that name.)

Afterward we decided to spend a night on the town. I’ve been to San Francisco a bunch but I’ve never really spent any time in the Castro. With help from Matt, the friendly, funny hotel receptionist who obviously knows his way around the Castro, we learned how to take the underground to get there as well as a few ideas for dinner and clubs. The directions for the underground weren’t the best and we ended up paying twice and getting chastised by public-transportation personnel.

We had dinner at a small Italian place called Poesia where the service staff were authentically Italian, complete with sexy accents. When I ordered, our server asked if I spoke Italian, which made me feel good since I think I’ve totally lost my language skills. The food was great and hearing the friendly servers communicate with each other in authentic Italian was fun.

After dinner we did some late night shopping with retailers that were as friendly as the restaurateurs. The highlight was a stop at Out Fit. Here the staff included a hyper-attentive kid even more familiar with the Castro than Matt, a guy with a dreadlock Mohawk knitting scarves, and a young, skinny guy who could not say enough good about a club called Bearracuda. We chose not to go to the Bearracuda.

The hyper-attentive guy recommended a visit to Martuni’s (you can’t make these names up), a piano bar that had me envisioning hyper-attentive guy proudly singing show tunes. Unfortunately we couldn’t find it. Our trek did take us past a corner bar called Twin Peaks, a place Matt said is known to the locals as the "Glass Coffin" because of the big glass windows that let you see into the club from the street. The coffin reference comes from the fact that the clientele tends to be older—Matt said 80 plus but it was a flamboyant exaggeration.

Ultimately we stopped at Mix where there were not one, not two, not even three, but four men in kilts playing pool, including one hulking guy in a sinister black leather kilt offset by large white feather wings, a feather boa, and a rhinestone star brooch. I was surprised to find that all the kilt wearers weren’t even together. Mix is obviously where the kilted pool players hang out. Interesting note, kilted pool players are chatty and were happy to respond to my curious inquiries.

After Mix we stopped at Bad Lands. (More local flavor from Matt: Bad Lands is known to locals as "Sad Lands." He also compared the dance floor to tree rings with the young hot club kids in the center surrounded by concentrically older rings of dancers as you move out.) Bad Lands was a blast with some of the friendliest club goers I’ve ever encountered. And with a music mix that successfully mashed up Groove is in the Heart, I’m a Barbie Girl, and Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It), you can see why the place is packed.

Those San Franciscans may be a little quirky, but it sure makes for a fun night out.


  1. Woah. Welcome to San Fran, baby! BTW, I would love to hang out with a guy with mohawk dreads that knits. How cool would that be?!

  2. Hey! Thanks for choosing the Handlery Union Square...glad you got great service and a friendly smile from Matt, our super star at the front desk. Hope to see you again soon!