Neat fences around glowing medieval ruins plus a bench to sit and stare at it all and feel the history slither all around you. At some point, guys in robes wandered the grounds where we sat, muttered incantations, and occasionally had to leave the abbey in a hurry if their gout started giving them problems. But where the heck were the bathrooms? Bathrooms hardly ever survive the ravages of time.
Rambling from Minster down the dark York Museum street, we stopped by the Oratory. It was shadowy beyond the metal gates, but the entrance seemed to be the onslaught carvings of some historic dude who was super deft with a chisel. Back at the hotel, brought up the light in the photo and WHAM. Shadows and light and more holiness than you could shake a stick at. Magnificent.
Oh England. Scotland. Your historic old churches are magnificent, and they last forever. Why do your holy folk get to live so large for so long while I make do with a city loft in some neo-modern brick and glass city? The locals told me that in England, what makes a concentrated population/location classified as a city–vs a town or village or what have you– is the presence of a grand church that lords over every other building shorter in stature. Mission accomplished, York.
Ah, The bus terminal. The old American tradition of the 1950’s – 1970’s until it began it’s long slow decline to a reputation as a refuge for society’s marginalized, its homeless, its drifters and beggers and miscreants alike. Transit is always fun for people watching, but taking a Greyhound bus cross country takes it to a new level. A Scottish musician trying to make it big “I’m going to LA!”. A rotund elderly lady who forces the bus to stop in the Arizona desert because she doesn’t want to throw up around the other passengers (she sprinted to the back of the bus, and we all watched her heave). The dreamy throwback hippy millenial with her tie die and long straight hair all scarfed up. A wisecracking Asian bus driver, telling jokes that only a few of us understand, but we laugh because he’s laughing so hard at himself.
In any case, you’re looking at something temporary in this picture; By late 2016, San Francisco’s ultra modern Transbay Terminal (e.g. our first true Grand Central Station) will have opened, and the terminal before you will become a park with skyscraping views of shiny glass towers, with folks on lunch break nibbling their organic wheatberry salads as they sit awkwardly in the grass. Go West and gentrify, by gum, and don’t forget to bring your Pez dispenser!
The last major quake in the San. Francisco Bay Area was the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989; it was perhaps the first quake of the modern age to be witnessed live, during the opening of Game 3 in the World Series between the Giants and their cross Bay brethren, the Oakland A’s. Millions watched as the screen went static, and the baseball players started looking around in quasi panic as the announcers talked about the shuddering rolling ground beneath. In the days that followed, we watched the iconic images of collapsed freeways, including the silver lining of the quake; the broken Embarcadero freeway, an eyesore double decker that ran the outer perimeter of the city and blocked many of its fantastic waterside landmarks like the Ferry Building.
The quake forced demolition of the freeway, and by 1991, the waterfront was reborn as the Embarcadero you see here, which is a source of much joy to locals and turistas alike as they ramble up and down its magnificent three plus miles.
Night walks on the Embarcadero promenade are a lovely menagerie of light and color, old brick buildings with ornate stonework and modern glass wonders. Or the Bay Bridge, who’s current LED light show undulate in non repeating patterns; the operating cost of the whole bridge display is only $15 USD per night!
These October nights are the tail end of San Francisco summer, the wind a mere gentle breeze, the temperature a mild 65F(18C), and I love the sound of the lapping Bay waters as they echo the city lights and the bridge in their reflections.
Oh, sure, there are curmudgeons out there who would complain that taking San Francisco’s transit system is almost as fast as walking, but they also likely whine about every little detail that doesn’t meet their fancy, in the manner of many city millenials.
I love our transit system, it’s colorful, interesting, I can get anywhere in this 7 square mile peninsula head with nominal walking if I want, and the people watching simply can’t be beat.
If you visit our fair city, come into SFO airport, take the BART into the heart of the downtown, take the light rail or buses to the Great Highway, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, walk the diverse neighborhoods with layers on as the microclimates shift rapidly, and partake of world class food and culture.
There, feeling better?
I did the Friday night ramble out into my lovely city to take in the floating wisps of cloud cover and crisp, cool air that signify fall here in San Francisco. I picked up some new Teva sandals and finally threw away the beat to hell sandals I’d been wearing all through my Saba trip, and damn, they felt comfy.
I slung my little camera at my side like a tourist, snapping every few blocks, which prompted several tourists on the waterfront to ask me to take their picture. I always worry about that one time I’ll take the picture, and they’ll look at their little iPhones and wince and say “No, No, No,” indicating my picture quality was suspect, but what the hay, ya gotta be nice some of the time, build up karma capital.
With this repost of a Saba sunrise from the St. John’s flat, I’ve got a little something special for you all, courtesy of my brother Michael. Saturday nights on Saba can, on occasion, be remarkably quiet. We were walking home from Windwardside at 9:30pm one night–prime time–and my brother recorded the ubiquitous teeny singing tree frogs whistling in the night, instantly familiar to those who’ve been there, slightly haunting and sweet to those who haven’t. Take a listen. Let me know what you think. Click the link below to hear.