SF Recap: The Story

Well, friends, I don’t want to move back to SF. And I did have a moment – walking up Market towards the Castro Safeway, looking out over the house-dotted hills with the radio tower and the rolling clouds – where my heart squoze in panic and my brain shouted, “Get OUT! You don’t belong here!”

I got over it. But not so much that I want to move back. Despite having a truly lovely time on the trip, of course.

So here’s a rundown of what we did. Only have photos of select activities, so you’ll have to use your imagination on the rest.

We arrived Wednesday evening and had a delicious dinner at Burgermeister – an old fave of mine – in the Castro. Audi and her superawesome boyfriend, Mark, gave us a quick walking tour of the Castro and Lower Haight and then we crashed.

Thursday, we took the F down to the Ferry Building, which is full of quaint little upscale grocers and shops. This was the first non-ban day, and I’ll admit to buying two necklaces in about 10 minutes at the little street vendors on the plaza … but that was all I bought that day, I swear.

We had an AMAZING lunch at The Slanted Door, a restaurant I’d never had the chance to try while living in SF. Can’t recommend that place enough – especially now that they’ve relocated to the Ferry Building and you can chow down on Vietnamese spring rolls while gazing at the Bay Bridge.

After lunch we walked up Market toward Union Square, and spent the afternoon strolling around that bustling area. I introduced Husband Mike to the wonderful worlds of Paul Smith and John Varvatos. The Varvatos store is filled with limited edition photos of the Stones, the Dead, Springsteen, Dylan and just about every other beloved rocker you can think of … so that appealed to my photographer husband just about as much as the amazing duds.

We headed back up Market to the Castro, but hadn’t gotten too far before it was time to head back toward the Mission for my tattoo appointment.

I had booked time with Audi’s artist, Cecelia, at Warlock Tattoo many months in advance. My simple design was likely quite boring to a total master such as she. Seriously, check out Audi’s work sometime … it’s breathtaking.

We had walked for about 8 hours that day and I’m ashamed to admit that I packed THE WRONG SHOES. My slight wedges turned out to be devices of torture. So when Cecelia got going on me, even though my neck is a fairly sensitive area, all I could think was, “I am SO GLAD to be lying down! Do whatever you want to my neck, just don’t make me get up from this massage table.”

That’s the fresh ink thar. Bright red neck and all. Why a crown, you ask? Read about my deep-seated personal attachment to this symbol here.

Friday was shopping day, and our first stop was the big Goodwill downtown. I scored a bale of wonderful stuff, which I’ll show yas tomorrow, but we only got one photo of the experience. I’m trying on a wrap dress that didn’t quite fit.

Then we hit the Haight, my old ‘hood. A close friend had driven up from L.A. the night before and we had planned to meet up Friday evening … but while we lunched with Audi and Mark, he walked right in. I mean really, what are the odds? So he and his girlfriend shopped with us for much of the afternoon. How fun!

I’d had my eye on those Fluevog Bills for months, and the fact that they were flat-soled and my wedges were about to kill me, sealed the deal. I just adore them, even though I may only get one more wearing out of them until fall.

Husband Mike hit Amoeba Music – a mere half-block from my old apartment, and a store that I was once unable to enter without dropping at LEAST $80 on CDs – while Audi and I hit more clothing stores. My favorite? Held Over, a vintage emporium that was a bit out of my price range nine years back but yielded my favorite purchase of the trip.

We had an indescribably delicious dinner at Home (that’s the name of the restaurant) that night. Pot roast, mac and cheese, cornbread … it’s a comfort food lover’s heaven.

Saturday we hit Japan Town for some sadly mediocre Japanese food, a quick tour of the Japan Center, and stop at the famed Soko Hardware. I still love Japantown with all my heart.

Tehilah, this one’s for you. See that? Hanukkah Roll, featuring – what else? – smoked salmon.

My L.A. friend, Amirali, and his truly-lovely-girlfriend-who-I-wish-still-lived-in-Mpls-so-we-could-hang-out-all-the-time JoAnna braved Fisherman’s Wharf with us, all for a glimpse of these schmos. I could gaze at the nervy sea lions who took over Pier 39 for endless hours, giving running commentary on their antics to anyone who’ll listen. Or just to myself. Doesn’t matter.

My parents took us out to SF when I was in high school, and we ate at Scoma’s. We loved it so much that we ate there again before leaving a week later. We NEVER do that.

Sadly, my crab cakes were sub-par on this visit … but HM had some mind-blowingly good salmon. And we witnessed an epic seagull battle on the roof of the restaurant.

Sunday we scampered around in Golden Gate Park for a while, spending much of our time in the Japanese Tea Garden. Can you tell we had ridiculously gorgeous weather pretty much the whole time we were there?

Next we hit the DeYoung, where we saw a Warhol exhibit and an Yves Saint Laurent exhibit. I kinda hate Warhol’s work, but the exhibit was masterfully curated – multimedia explorations of the work and the man, an excellent Warhol 101 – and I enjoyed it more than I expected to. The YSL was chock full of pretty frocks, and it was fun to see some superfamous designs in person.

Then Audi drove us out to Land’s End for some gorgeous views and a lovely outdoor walk.

It may not be my cup of tea – hometown-wise – but there’s no denying that San Francisco is one of the most gorgeous cities in the world.

Audi couldn’t have been a more generous and accommodating hostess. She drove us all over creation, did whatever we wanted, and always had great suggestions for eateries and activities when our minds went blank. Meeting her was, hands down, the best thing about this trip. I miss her already!

Now, as you know, the trip coincided with the end of the shopping ban. I feel a little weird about showing off all of my purchases, and wasn’t actually planning to do so. But I got SO MANY comments from you fine folks asking to see the loot, that I caved. Tune in tomorrow for the fairly aptly dubbed “Sal Gone Wild” post!

  • mysterycreature

    I think you are so brave to get a tattoo – I am far too much of a wuss to dare to put my body at the mercy of a needle, even though I have designs in mind I would like!

  • Michael McGraw Photography

    You forgot to mention that we actually met Paul Smith in his store.

  • Christina Lee

    awww fabulous!! My brother used to live on Steiner street in the H-A ‘hood- so you made me miss it!!!!

  • Vanessa

    This all looks like so much fun! The pictures of you and Husband Mike are really cute– though I must say I was a bit partial to the sea lions :)

  • Couture Allure Vintage Fashion

    Wow, you guys sound like Energizer Bunnies, going and going all day long. What happened to naps? Seriously, thanks for the rundown. Sounds like you had a fabulous trip and I’m so glad you got to the the YSL exhibit!

  • Sal

    HM: You know, we actually MIGHT have! Google the dude. Was that him?

    Everyone else: A truly adorable older British gent chatted us up at the Paul Smith store. Since they were doing a glam photo shoot in the women’s section, we decided that this gent WAS Paul Smith. Could’ve been. I mean maybe.

  • futurelint

    Yay! Looks like you had so much fun! I’m looking forward to the Sal Gone Wild shopping post!

    P.S. The pic of you pointing at the Hanukkah Roll is the cutest thing EVER!

  • Sharon Rose

    Hi there-sounds like such a fantastic vacation, gorgeous food, shopping and scenery-what more could a gal want? Lucky you, my dear!

  • oh lady e

    I have never been to California (SF or otherwise), but now I MUST go and see all this for myself! :)

    Anyway, hellooooo from Germany! I’ve just eaten three slices of chocolate cake (whew), and now I’m resting my belly and catching up with blogs.

  • chic

    What a great trip! Looks like Audi was a great hostess you had a blast! I’m going to San Fran early June and I can’t wait, I was only there once before and LOVED the city. I want to hit some good thrift stores up while there, so this huge Goodwill you spoke of sounds intriguing…I may have to ask you for details on the location once my trip approaches! S.

  • Fell4fashion

    Great pics! Looks like you had so much fun!!!

  • saturdayjane

    OH, the weather there looks so gorgeous! I’m mega-jealous.

    Sounds like you were steeped in San Francisco culture while you were there. I’m glad you got to sample all of those eateries and stores! :)

  • Jilliebeanie

    I MUST go to SF…SOON!

    I’ve never been, but my husband bought me a pink disc-golf frizbee there that I appreciate very much. :)

    Thanks for sharing. Now I know what to do/where to go when I get there!

    P.S. I’m a Minnesotan too!

  • Rosie Unknown

    Sounds like you had a lot fun! Love the tattoo, I wish I was brave enough to put something that permanent on my skin!

  • please sir

    Oh how neat – yes bravo on the bravery! I’m bad with pain! Looks wonderful!

  • Kimberly

    Looks like you had a wonderfully fabulous trip. Can’t wait to see the loot tomorrow!

  • a cat of impossible colour

    That tattoo is stunning!

  • Nadine

    Hey Sal – I hope this doesn’t sound lame, but . . . I’m used to seeing your lovely smiling face in posed photos, rather than seeing you in those ‘caught-unawares’ shots – wow, you really are stunning! Also, you look terrific with your hair up.

  • Heather

    OMG Looooving that tattoo! I’ve got so many ideas in mind for my first one… really loving yours! (Don’t worry, I won’t steal it.)

  • K.Line

    The whole vacation looks GREAT. But really, you didn’t think you’d get away with no shopping-ban end post?!

  • Kate Coveny Hood

    I could imagine living in SF…but maybe not with three small kids. I’m all for the amazing exercise that pushing a stroller can offer – but up those hills? And with a slow four year old in tow…I think I’ll pass.

    I marvel at how brave people are to get tattoos – aside from the pain, the permenance would scare me!

  • amanda

    I just wrote a blog post about how much I miss San Francisco! Your post just reminded me of all the things I love about that town. I adore Out the Door (a smaller version of the Slanted Door), so my mother and I make a special trip there every time I’m in town.

    I’m moving back soon AND planning on getting a couple more tattoos, so I’m definitely going to check out Cecelia and Warlock Tattoo.

  • lisa

    It sounds like you had a great time!

  • Audi

    I miss you too Sal! I figure one more visit and maybe another Minnesota winter, and you’ll change your mind about moving back to SF. Let’s plan that next trip for January… 😉

  • elena-lu

    glorious photos and read, thank you :)

  • kittyscreations

    Looks like you had a fantastic trip! I hope to make it out to San Francisco one day. I can’t wait to see your loot!

  • Alison

    Sounds like a dream of a trip and to meet and hang out with Audi and Mark. Love the new tattoo, you still need to show us the one on your foot too. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post. You worked hard to save and you picked a great way to reward yourself!

  • Nina (femme rationale)

    i’m going to remember all these restaurants and shops for my next trip to SF. and i love the photos from ur trip. thank u for sharing!

  • PorkStar

    Nice tat!

  • Laura.

    yay, all of this looks great–a really comprehensive good ol’ SF time. makes me miss that town. . . .

  • Michael McGraw Photography

    I did a google search, and Yes, We Did See Paul Smith in the store. Such a missed opportunity to see if he could help me find a blazer in a 44long

  • Darrah

    Sounds like a fantastic trip! I love all the photos. I can’t believe you got a tattoo! Did it hurt?!


    Hi Sal, I know all the places that you visited…I went to Academy of ARTs in SF! I agree Japan Town food is getting more like 'fast food' but KINOKUNIA is one of my fav bookstore…luv all my Japanese design magz! Slanted Door's restroom is quite unique- food errr… Haight St is where I dropped off my old clothes to trade/sell sometimes… Glad your trip was enjoyable…new tatoo & all! Fab!!

  • ohhoneyno

    i’m impatiently refreshing your page for the Sal Gone Wild post!! (yes, it’s 6:25am where i am…)

  • casey

    What gorgeous photos! It looks like you had an utterly awesome time in SF. Can’t wait to see what goodies you brought back… 😉

  • Charlotte Sometimes

    Going to SF was already on my list of things to do but you just bumped it up.
    Looks like you had a great time. Feeling a little jealous here…..
    Would it be wrong to sell my kids to pay for the trip?…..;-)

  • Kelly

    Looks like you had an awesome trip! BF and I are headed there this summer hopefully, so you’ve given me a lot of good ideas!

  • CrankyOtter

    Glad you enjoyed SF.

    Didn’t know Soko had a store, but I dropped a bundle on these manhandles from there. Worth it!

    to open the trash

    climbing the pantry

    now to go check on the tat pics more.

  • Melissa

    I am SO glad that you had a blast! It sounds like such a fun trip and it makes me happy to see all the fun photos of you and your hubby and Audi! I will be sure to check out her shop and so glad you met and had a wonderful time together!

  • ambika

    Looks like so much fun. S.F. is definitely one of the few places I’d consider living–only if it weren’t so expensive!

  • clareassiral

    OMG, now im so psyched up for San Francisco! Will be there in a week’s time! Thanks for the lovely run down

  • tula

    Fab tattoo, darling!!!

  • Joanna Goddard

    wow, so amazing!!!