I woke up on day 3 feeling a bit sore. This was because of two things. The first was that apparently 3 hours on an open air bus the day before had left me with a bit of a sunburn:
The other reason was that my injury from falling on the bus two nights earlier was now making itself known. I had noticed the evening before that my thigh was a bit sore. That morning, I realized why:
We didn’t have anything planned that day, and we were considering wandering down to the afternoon ballgame but weren’t sure we wanted to sit in full sun for three hours. I desperately needed a manicure (because annoyingly, all the gel polish I had put on the day we left had all peeled off only days later), so I googled some nail places, found one not far away, and set off. I was back two hours later with pretty nails.
We sat around for a bit, talking about what to do. We thought it might be fun to go to Chinatown for a bit. But we were really tired, and in the end decided to lay down for a little bit. A “little bit” turned into several hours and when I woke up, I was surprised to see it was almost dinnertime. We shook off the sleepiness and hopped on a bus.
I was a bit apprehensive about eating dinner in Chinatown as I have a somewhat delicate stomach, but decided I could do it. We wandered up the main road a ways until we came to a restaurant we thought would probably be okay.
We ordered fried rice, pork chow mein and sweet and sour chicken. I texted this photo to a friend with a message that said, “I’m being brave!”:
Said friend replied, “Hahaha. Oh yes. The ever mysterious and exotic noodle and grain of rice.”
I would like to point out that at home, I go to a Chinese restaurant where they know my name and my order, so for me, this was adventurous. For the record: best sweet and sour chicken I’ve ever had.
After dinner, we decided we’d wander about a little bit more and see what we could come up with. When we came out of the restaurant, the lanterns were all on, and I was delighted by them.
We popped into a few shops, where I purchased a cute little compact mirror that has a bunch of San Francisco landmark names written on it in colourful text (incidentally, the only California “souvenir” I brought home), and we found a little tea light holder similar to this one for my mom, who was dog sitting Allie.
By that time on a Sunday night, the stores were beginning to close, so we left Chinatown with no particular destination in mind, and ended up on Telegraph Hill, on the corner of Broadway and Columbus. Walking two blocks west, we found ourselves staring up one of San Francisco’s many crazy hills that seem to come out of no where. We were at the corner of Broadway and Kearny, looking up, and this is what we saw:
A street that is so steep it requires steps on either side to assist pedestrians in making it to the top.
We started up, stopping every so often to take pictures of the cute houses built into the hill (I was in love with every single house in the city), and to marvel at the driveways and garages that jut out of the street. We couldn’t imagine backing out of one of those driveways in traffic, but I realized afterward that in my head I was picturing doing it in the middle of a Canadian winter, and you sure as hell would never make it up that hill on an icy day. Of course, that’s not so much a problem in San Francisco, is it?
At the top, we had to stop and admire whence we’d come.
From there we had to decide where to go. We were on Vallejo Street, and to the east, we knew there wasn’t tons we wanted to see. To the west, eventually we’d get to Fisherman’s Wharf, but first we stared up another mountain. Figuring that was the direction we ultimately would prefer to go, and having conquered one mountain already, we set up it. At the top, the driving road ended and on either side of the street were little sets of steps that began to lead down, and every so often it would level out into a terrace that stretched from one side of the “road” to the other and connected the doors to houses on either side. We made our way carefully down the uneven steps and ended up stopping on one of the terraces where there was what seemed to be a tiny hidden garden.
Remember the other day I said I’d prove that the Bay Bridge was prettier and more impressive than the Golden Gate Bridge? Well, what brought us to a stop in that tiny hidden garden was this:
From the view down the hill to the bay and the bridge in the distance, I was a bit mesmerized. I was in awe of the people who lived in those houses and saw the pretty lit up bridge every single day. The hill and steps were a bit treacherous but my goodness, that view would make it totally worth it.
I thought it made such a pretty picture (the setting, not me – okay, me a little bit) that I Instagrammed the same picture in black and white just so I’d have both of them:
From there, we slowly made our way south and eventually ended up back at the condo. It hadn’t been a long day, given that we’d had naps that afternoon, but as I got ready for bed I thought about what we’d done that evening, and the moment those photos above were taken.
It was one of those things that was just supposed to happen. I hate to say “meant to be” but it kind of was. I had been hesitant to climb to the top of the steps on Kearny, feeling tired and still a bit sore from my bus fall the other night. Finding myself in that little garden on Vallejo, hidden by the hill above it and surrounded by greenery, with that view, I was really really glad we’d climbed that mountain. You know that feeling when you feel like you’ve found kind of an unknown, hidden gem about a city? I used to feel that way living on the plateau in Montreal. Tourists would spend tons of time downtown in the clubs and in the old port. I would wander down residential streets in my own neighbourhood, delighting in the brightly painted houses, or buy fresh fruit and veg in the little produce shop nearby, or enjoy lunch by myself on a terrace on the pedestrian street half a block from my house, or sit by the fountain in the square half a block further than that, and feel like I really knew the secret to Montreal.
That’s how I felt that night on Telegraph Hill, and it’s remained one of my favourite memories of the whole trip.