After a week of bay area rain, the city released a collective sigh of relief at the sight of the sun today. Hallelujah! So the Kargas family decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and play our favorite game "San Francisco Tourist." We headed into the city to explore as I did when I was a child, traveling on vacation with my family to the bay area. As a kid, we visited San Francisco and Oakland several times because my stepfather's family was based here. I loved those trips, it meant Dim Sum in Chinatown, fairy rides to Angel Island, A's baseball games, long walks through the rolling hills of North Beach, and shopping in the big city.
Living in San Francisco hasn't dampened my enthusiasm for the city, but we often find ourselves busy with other things or too tired to make the trip with the munchkins. Those steep hills take on new meaning when pushing an umbrella stroller with a 30 pound toddler, and my kids don't make particularly good dining or or shopping companions. My husband in fact isn't all that fond of window shopping either.
There was a festival in Chinatown today to celebrate the New Year, so that was our motivation for the trip. This street fair was fairly hyped up and was listed on every tourist website, so we were looking forward to it. Lamest street fair I have ever attended. Seriously. It was like Chinatown turned itself inside out. The same old shops that line the crowded streets of Chinatown selling dish soap, umbrellas, hello kitty luggage and Chinese DVD's simply moved their garbage outside in tent covered tables with balloons. I was baffled. The streets were packed. I was expecting cultural enlightenment, traditional music, food stands and dragon dancing. Perhaps we missed something, but the coolest thing that we saw was a cheap Chinese fan give away, but the line for that wrapped around the block, so we skipped it.
We did find a bizarre smoking red drink called "The Volcano." It tasted like watered down Crystal Light with dry ice, but the kids were mildly impressed, until they dropped the almost full $3 novelty beverage on the ground. Opps.
We escaped the chaos of the street party and hit North Beach for lunch. We stopped at the first place we could find, we were tired and figured that we better refuel quickly. We selected a spot that was probably a little nicer than our boys could handle, meaning it was quite, had good food, and there were no crayons. We ordered the boys ravioli with meat sauce. That didn't go over so well. Evan refused to take even one bite of his lunch. Not even one itsy, bitsy nibble. Instead he started dipping his bread in water and screaming "baby food!" Zack joined in the fun as well. The husband and I choked down our meal as quickly as possible so we could head out of dodge. We did manage to snap this happy photo before leaving, which makes the whole thing appear like good clean family fun, doesn't it?
Next stop, Coit Tower, but first we had to make it up several giant hills. Lucky for me, husband pushed Evan and I lagged behind with Zachary. Zachary did a fantastic job, he was a real trooper and sadly I think he is in better shape than I am.
We made it up to the tower, and there were spectacular views, it made the trek seem worth it.
Unfortunately the hike back to the BART station was not so lovely. Evan started wailing that he wanted out of the stroller. Zack started whining that he was "itchy" his feet hurt, and that he was hungry. Mommy was screaming inside that she was tired and wishing for a drink.
It doesn't sound glamorous does it? Ah, I didn't do it justice. All in all it was a fun day. Sure it wasn't exactly a shopping spree in Union Square or a three course Italian lunch at the Stinking Rose, but it was how we do tourism now, family style.