Friday, August 03, 2007


POSH: A popular etymology states the expression originated from the phrase "Port Out, Starboard Home", which, before air-conditioning, were allegedly the most desirable cabin locations on ships travelling to and from British colonies in the Far East because they were shaded from the sun in both directions. Thus, it's not much of a leap between the nautical POSH to the social description of something quite luxe.

It has been many years since I have been in San Francisco, alas. Yesterday, along with visitors Alex and Em, I took the plunge, layerd up with warmies, and venturing forth. For this trip we took the Vallejo-SF BayLink ferry. This was our stalwart barque for the trip. POSH.

The ride was gorgeous. Coming into SF is a bit like approaching Venice; it floats out there like some sort of mirage with a skyline. It was cold, windy, cloudy, grey.

I have not been in the renovated Ferry Building, now gourmet gulch. Food shops, restaurants, flower shops, a couple of antique stores. What a welcome to this city nonpariel (except, perhaps, by the aforementioned Venice or Paris). Emily decided on the spot that she wants to live there. The smells are what hit me; sea salt, fuel, sourdough, coffee. Delicious.

We strolled up Market Street past all the bounty (and some of the blight) any lively city offers. I was reminded over and over how much I had loved working in SF all those years ago. We eventually made it up to Union Square along with what seemed to be 2 million other shoppers and gawkers. By this time the glorious sun had driven away the fog and clouds and we were gifted with one of those perfect San Francisco days; clear, bright, lovely breeze. This flower stall is outside Macy's, on the corner of Grant and Geary, just down the street from where I worked at the now-defunct White House. Every Monday morning I would dash over, buy some flowers that would give me a week's pleasure in my cold, cramped, dark office. We invaded the chi-chi boutiques at Neiman's and Armani, tried on ridiculously expensive clothes to the dismay of snooty "help" who took a dim view of our in-the-big-city-from-the-outlands attire. We had lunch at Kuleto's, one of my favorites.

Then it was back to the shopping duties. As we were walking along Powell Street one of these beauties came rumbling by, clanging its bell and being oh, so San Francisco. It now costs $3 to ride. I think the last time I caught one it was 50ยข. That tells you how long ago it was.

We decided we could go no further and it was time to make our way back to the Ferry Building to catch a boat home. It was, by now, 5 o'clock and we joined the great wave of commuters heading out of the city. The weather had held all afternoon but as we pulled away from the dock we could see the fog returning.

You can just barely make out the Golden Gate through the gap between Angel Island and Marin.

After the peaceful ride across the bay, having to get into a car and battle commuter traffic was a rude jolt. But the beauty of the day made this last leg of the trip worth everything else. My next project is to get the Patient to do this. I am trying to tempt him by promising (1) no shopping and (2) lunch at Tadich's as a reward.


At 9:40 PM, Blogger mary ann said...

What a beautiful post ~ it made me appreciate SF all over again. The photos are a delight too. I felt just like Em the first time I saw my city and have not changed my opinion, except every once in awhile when I get tired of trying to walk down Powell St. to BART and I have to push aside so many strolling tourists. I'm so glad you had a wonderful time!


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