The San Francisco Chronicles 4 – The Only Drawback

San Francisco has only one drawback – ’tis hard to leave.

Rudyard Kipling

Yeah. That’s about the size of it.

Well, we’re back from San Francisco. It was a bit of a shock stepping out into a cold, wet and miserable London yesterday. The nights are drawing in here and all the shops put up their Christmas displays while we were away. Sunny, beautiful California couldn’t have been more different and I am none to pleased with the change. I was not ready to leave San Francisco. I never am. It doesn’t get any easier.

People ask me a lot why we go back to the Bay again and again. I don’t know really, except to say that the place just suits us. It’s a beautiful city made up of a group of small neighbourhoods which each have their own things to offer. This time we were staying in North Beach, the Italian neighbourhood. I love this bit of the town. Quite apart from the fact you’re only ever 4 paces from the nearest pizza, the neighbourhood is just really lovely. The people are more willing to say good morning and pass the time of day. In all honesty there were times when it felt more like home over the last two weeks than where we actually live.

We made use of a little pour-over coffee place called Hole in the Wall (never was a place more aptly named) several times during our stay. Not only was the coffee excellent to the point that I drank it black because I didn’t want to ruin it with milk (not a usual occurrence), but they really made us feel like locals as they chatted to us about the oddness of the second presidential debate, or the pain of the crushing last innings Giants defeat at the baseball, losing a three run lead at the top of the 9th regardless of (or in my opinion due to) 4 different pitchers being brought on, each of them collapsing spectacularly in their own way. That will make no sense to the Brits but trust me, baseball is a very absorbing sport once you get into it!

This kind of thing never happens in London with people you don’t already know, and it’s just plain nice. So even though the city kicked our asses a bit on this visit, we still love it.

The ass-kicking hill to our flat in North Beach. Ouch. 

And it really did kick our asses. We had missed tour buses, car hire and bridge toll issues, parking nightmares, a half marathon DNS. The hills absolutely crippled me  – seriously, this is how much KT tape I was wearing by the end of the holiday (I appreciate the choice of shoe doesn’t look sensible but this was taken when getting ready for a meal at Gary Danko, the swankiest place in town, so my battered Asics wouldn’t have cut the mustard).

How much tape is too much tape?!

I went to the physio yesterday, and I’d guessed correctly that I have calf strain and shin splints in both legs. Cue another bout of having electricity fired into me by a large Greek man (legs this time though, not bum), and I am banned from running for at least the rest of this week whilst we do some intensive work to get me to a state in which I can ‘participate’ in the New York Marathon. All hopes of sub-4:30 or even beating my time from Rome have gone out the window. If I can make it, and I’m a lot more hopeful now that I will, then I will be there firmly as a fancy dress wearing run/walker (suggestions welcome!), enjoying it as an experience on my birthday and definitely not as a racer.

Well you know what…so be it. My body clearly needs the break, and if it was a choice between going to San Francisco and being a bit injured, or not going at all, then you can guess which I would pick.

As well as all the stuff that went a bit wrong, we had the good bits too – going to Crissy Field parkrun, Mr. Duff’s triumph at the Bridge to Bridge 5k, and that one Giants game that we did actually win against the Dodgers!

Since I couldn’t run in the second week, I spent more time making good use of my new camera and took as may decent shots of the city as I could manage. Once the remaining jet lag has subsided I’ll go through them and share the best ones with you.

Hopefully they’ll give you an idea of why Herb Caen had a point when he said:

If I do go to heaven, I’m going to do what every San Franciscan does who goes to heaven. He looks around and says, “It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.”

3 thoughts on “The San Francisco Chronicles 4 – The Only Drawback

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