Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy 75th to the Golden Gate Bridge

This Memorial Day weekend in celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge's 75th Anniversary, Birthday what-have-you, San Francisco was alive (or should I say more alive?) with festivities, tourists, and activity every way you turned--if you could physically turn at all. 
In a pretty festive mood ourselves, two friends and I jumped onto the BART (which was the most crowded I'd ever seen) and headed to the Mission. Originally, we headed over to see the Brazilian Festival which was definitely underway when we got there. The air was filled with the delicious smells of elotes, grilled bacon-covered hot dogs, and barbeque, and almost everyone was carrying either watermelon or mango on a stick. People were dressed in elaborate, colorful costumes and everyone was dancing. It was so festive! 
We wandered through and learning that the parade was over decided to explore the Mission.
I'd never been to the Mission before, at least this particular part of it, and I must say, "It has character." Funny thing, this statement now possesses much more meaning. Sophie and I laughed at this accurate title. Previously, we have only used it to describe things that are just downright terrible, unpleasant, not to our know, I'm sure you've used this before. But the Mission really DOES have character, the kind that leaves you wanting to explore its odd mixture of rough patches and lovely oases. It was absolutely fascinating to see the quality of the neighborhood change from impoverished and down-trodden to chic and gentrified (one of my new favorite words, and one that was used several times during the day) all within the trek of one or two blocks.
An example of such a transition: we walked past several liquor stores and then hit a really chic boutique that was having a sample sale... 
 The sale was absolutely invigorating. Upon my first, casual glance at the sales tags, my initial reaction was to duck out of the store unnoticed. But then, looking up, I noticed the color-coded sales chart with prices between $15-$35, a much improved price range from the $150.00-a-shirt tags that had me hyperventilating. In the end, the three of us all walked out with lovely brown paper bags filled with out even lovelier dresses and other items. I found an amazing black maxi dress that I am struggling not to wear t this very second. 
After the sale, we continued our walk down the Mission through the more chic apothecaries, ice cream shops, and iconic San Francisco townhouses before we decided to head over to Ghirardelli Square to eat and set up camp to watch the fireworks. 
Even though it is more tourist-y and the restaurants are overpriced, we decided on Lou's Fish Shack. We passed it, but we were drawn to the live music and the chatter from inside. We stuffed ourselves with calamari, clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls and crab salad sandwiches before heading over to the Buena Vista, a small tavern-like bar famous for their Irish Coffee.
 Apparently, the FIRST Irish Coffee to be made in America was made right here! (I really am becoming a sucker for history...) And it did not disappoint. It was incredibly creamy and smooth and had great flavor. BUT even better! We met three really awesome girls, two from UCSD (one of which is graduating in three weeks!) and one from France who is leaving the States in three days. It was really nice just to mingle with new people and hear their stories. 
Courtney, Sophie, and I with out new friend Nicole in tow, then headed to the grassy park next to Buena Vista (it had a perfect view of the bridge) and sat to enjoy the fireworks. It was a spectacular show, and I honestly don't know how they will compete with it in 25 years. In fact, the evening was so great, I don't know how the rest of summer will compete, but I guess I'll soon find out!
Here's to Summer and Exceeding Expectations!

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