So now that I’ve been back in New York City for a few days I’ve had some time to adjust out of vacation mode back into real life mode.  Which means dealing with the chaos of my summer reading club party, wondering if there was a full moon because of the number of library patrons who were screaming at us and screaming at each other, and sweating in the summer heat.  Bleah.

But anyway, here are my impressions of San Francisco, based on a New Yorker’s point of view.

New York and San Francisco are very similar in a lot of ways, kind of like parallel-universe versions of each other.  We saw lots of parks and streets with similar names to those we’d left behind.  Most of the big-name stores in the Union Square neighborhood where we were staying were the same stores we had in New York, like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks 5th Avenue, etc.  The city is very pedestrian-friendly, and just like in New York City a lot of residents don’t own cars.  The homeless population was highly visible.  The skyscrapers weren’t as high as ours, but they still made us feel like we were back home.  But now let’s talk about those differences …

At the beginning of the week I noticed that I was running low on my upscale eyedrops that I need to help maintain my fragile corneas, so we stopped into one of the many Walgreen’s locations in town.  And that’s when we noticed the enormous wine selection available in the store.  We later learned from one of our tour guides that San Franciscans consumed a LOT of wine, which was supported by all the places we saw that sold wine.  Like Chinese restaurants, and delis, and cafes (aka “caffes”), and all of those Walgreen’s stores.  On a related note, we saw lots of Walgreen’s locations and some delis, but NO supermarkets (not to say they don’t exist, but we didn’t see any).  The city is very environmentally conscious, with trash cans on the street that had a separate recycling compartment, and bins in many locations set aside for composting.  The weather is different from neighboring parts of California — lots of clouds, noticably cool weather in summertime, and no ice and snow in the winter!  We also saw lots of dogs off of their leashes, and learned that San Franciscans love their dogs so much that many restaurants have “dog nights” on Mondays, where they serve special dog-friendly dishes.  And then we saw the naked men walking down the street holding up signs campaigning for someone to win a district supervisor position.  We saw them twice in three days, and each time we were completely shellshocked.  I wonder if it’s insensitive of me to wonder why men who have … uh … so little to offer … would walk around naked in public.  Come to think of it, it probably IS insensitive to think that.  Never mind, then.

Also, we NEVER had a bad cup of coffee in San Francisco, and we each had at least two cups a day.

Here are a few pictures showing a few of the highlights of our trip:

Row of Houses and Coit Tower

Taking a Ferry Ride Under the Golden Gate Bridge

Sculpture Garden at SFMOMA

Alcatraz Library (detail)

In the middle of the chilling experience that is the audio tour of Alcatraz, my librarian mind activated and thought, “Hey, they shouldn’t shelve books there!  The heat from the radiator would damage them!”