Saturday, October 4, 2014

Late Postcards from San Francisco

I did other things in San Francisco besides stare at Painted Ladies and hang around my B&B. I hit the streets, the coastline, public transit, restaurants, shops, and parks.

They also have a bridge. It kept intruding on my otherwise all-natural coastline photos:

It's a great idea to have beaches right in the city. Why didn't Boston think of that?

I went to a wedding in City Hall, an impressive example of Beaux-Arts architecture, with soaring spaces, a Renaissance-style dome, and loads of marble and fancy plasterwork. Ceremonies are often held at the top of this staircase:

The dome is gorgeous:

Don't even try to compare this with Boston City Hall, done in the 1960's Brutalist style, in stained, deteriorating concrete. (If you think I'm going to show you a photo, you would be wrong.) No one goes there unless they have to. It is a maze of fluorescent-lit linoleum and even people who work there get lost in it. Both the interior and the exterior appear to be a celebration of some old mid-level Soviet bureaucrat's ideas about drabness. 

Let's change the subject. Getting married at SF City Hall requires a fair amount of bureaucracy. Couples schedule their wedding time in advance. On the day, they stand in line, receive and fill out paperwork, stand in line again to submit the paperwork, and then they get their marriage license and sign it. Next, they are assigned a number and then they have to wait again to be called when it's their turn for a ceremony with one of the judges or justices of the peace who are on duty that day. On the day I was there, everyone seemed to be delayed about an hour. There were a lot of couples and witnesses cooling their heels on the benches lining the hall where the licenses are issued. Many couples are decked out in full wedding regalia while others look like they might be on their lunch hour. Here's a striking young couple waiting patiently for their ceremony, along with their little girl. 

Here they are again, before their ceremony:

* * * * *

San Francisco has a lot of steep hills. On this trip, I didn't get to Lombard Street with its famous hairpin turns, but this street, not far from my B&B, had hundreds of steps as a sidewalk. Walking down it wasn't bad but racing up it — to catch a trolley to get to the wedding on time — nearly killed me. At least I had a nice view of the Pacific at the top when my vision cleared and my heart stopped racing. I figured out that the same trolley I had run to catch also went by the bottom of the hill, where I'd started, but one street over. I got to the wedding in time.

Some of these steep sidewalks offer encouragement along the way:

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