Day 26: The Tales of the City walk

We left Disa’s parents’ house mid-morning – destination: San Francisco to do the Tales of the City walk. Scott & I are fans of the Tales of the City books written by Armistead Maupin and set in San Francisco. Disa drove the Mini to San Francisco with the understanding that once we got to an area where she would need to start navigating (as Scott is unable to navigate) that Scott would take over the driving. Despite needing to find a public convenience to badly that she was having difficulties thinking, Disa drove to Fisherman’s wharf, with an attractive and completely planned side trip down Lombard Street, unassisted. We had difficulties finding somewhere to park, so we found a parking garage not far from Fisherman’s wharf and decided to just pay up to midnight so we didn’t need to worry!

We found a café which had loos (and thought it served coffee), then went to the beginning of the Tales of the City Walk. This had us taking the cable car from the beginning of the Hyde Street Cable Car line at Ghiredelli Square (and passing the Buena Vista, where Marianne phoned her mother in Cleveland to say she wouldn‘t be back). Unfortunately this wasn’t ideal as this was frankly the most touristy thing we did the entire time we were in the US. We queued with many half-witted people for an insanely long time, listened to atrocious street musicians singing songs we detest, and paid an extraordinary amount of money for a tourist ticket that would have been a fraction of the cost had we gotten on at the next stop. Oh well – should we ever find ourselves beginning the Tales of the City walking tour again, we’ll know what to do! We had some difficulty actually getting off the cable car at Filbert so had a few blocks more to walk, but then we were on our feet, in control of our own destinies, and on our way!! (I’m sure Maupin would approve.) We soon found ourselves at Haven’s: a narrow, wooden walkway off Levenworth that is one of the foot traffic only ‘streets’ that the fictional Barbary Lane is based upon. We then continued on to Macondray Lane, another 2-block ‘street’ which does not allow cars and which has a set of wooden steps up to it that were used in the mini series to be the Barbary steps. From here we continued on to Russian Hill Place then down to North Beach. We had a magnificent Italian lunch at Washington Square, then continued our walk up Telegraph Hill. We had already visited Coit Tower at the top of the hill on our first day in the US, however we visited the murals on the ground floor again (to score a geocache find) and enjoyed the views. We then took the Filbert Steps, which were just magical. Grace Marchant looked after these hillside gardens from 1949 until she died in 1982. Today they are still thriving, and it is easy to see why residents would want to preserve this unique slice of San Franciscan life. And we even saw the parrots of Telegraph Hill. Erik sounded quite sceptical when Scott had mentioned that there was a flock of parrots in San Francisco, descendants of caged parrots who escaped, however we saw them and photographed them as proof! It was almost ridiculous, two Australians ooh-ing and ah-ing over birds that are quite commonplace at home, however we weren’t at home. We continued down to Levi Plaza and were surprised to find ourselves at the end of the Tales Tour! It was nearing 5 pm, and therefore leaving he city wasn’t a great idea, so we headed to the Eagal Café at Pier 39 and enjoyed a cold bottle of white wine on their balcony while watching the sun go down and the crowds of people scurrying about. We decided to watch the sunset from the Presidio, near the Golden Gate bridge, so retrieved the Mini, headed off, parked, then walked the strangely familiar paths that we had walked in our first hours in the US. Sunset came, with Disa pursuing Scott all over the area while he went in search of the perfect photo (how times have changed!). We then headed back to Morgan Hill. Scott drove, with me navigating just so he could say that he had driven in San Francisco.


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