Due to reasons too astoundingly boring to mention, my family vacationed this winter break at an exotic location known for its ocean views, tasty ethnic restaurants, and daring adventures. Hawaii? Costa Rica? New Zealand? No. I'm talking about that destination 50 miles north of us, where we joined throngs of foreign tourists (from Des Moines, for instance). I'm talking about San Francisco.
Our trip began on a high note by taking Caltrain rather than an airplane. We celebrated by packing lots of tubes and bottles containing more than three ounces, and wearing lots of metal jewelry.
Settling into our Union Square hotel, we discovered it offered something for every family member:
For Mom: An 18th floor bay view
For Dad: WIFI
For Grandpa: Coffee and donuts next door
For Teenage Daughter: A three story Forever 21 just half a block away.
For tasty ethnic restaurants, we had many experiences, including:
- A random Chinatown restaurant. Although off the top of my head I can name seven Cupertino restaurants with better food overall, who doesn't love a deep-fried eggroll now and then?
- A random North Beach Italian restaurant. One of the friends we met there suggested it. But he hadn't been sure of the name, and our reservations were actually a block off from his real choice. But platters of antipasto and generous entree portions, accompanied by a couple of bottles of the house red, apparently can't go wrong.
- The Westfield Food Court in the mall on Market Street. Laden with real restaurant food in lieu of Burger King or Subway, we can only beg Vallco to pay attention.
For daring adventure, we went to the rain forest in the Academy of Science, rode shotgun on a cable car, and squeezed four people onto the bicycle rickshaw seat for three, hauled by one of those strong, handsome lycra-clad young men along the piers.
For culture, we saw Bring It On, The Musical, which was entertaining for its high-energy songs, cast, and flying cheerleaders. (Note to parents: Never let your daughter be the smallest member of a cheer squad). We also saw Beach Blanket Babylon, but after hearing how great it was since I moved to this area 25 years ago, it was a bit of a let-down, although it was somewhat redeemed by a Madonna character flying over the audience singing "Surviving Gravity" (spoofing Wicked's "Defying Gravity").
For local color, we celebrated the third night of Chanukah at a friend's house, who, scoffing at my testimonial to the Streit's potato pancake mix, made us homemade latkes. Um, does it count for local color when you yourself have been celebrating the same holiday the same way -- except for the homemade thing -- your whole life?
It does if you are on vacation in the exotic City by the Bay.