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Back in 1962, Tony Bennett sang a song called “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and although I didn’t know that song till many years after he sang it, I’ve since discovered he and I have much in common in those lyrics. (Scroll to the end of this post to see video of him singing the same song in 1994.)

I first visited San Francisco in my teens when my family went on a camping trip to Portola Redwoods State Park (still a favorite campground of mine) and one of our day trips was to the City by the Bay. I was instantly fascinated! So many things to see, so much energy! I knew I didn’t ever want to leave and that evening, when we drove away to return to our campsite about an hour’s drive south, I also knew my heart had been left behind. I was in love with San Francisco.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that my soul was residing there and I was simply leaving my heart behind to keep it from getting lonely.

Over the years, I continued to visit San Francisco every chance I got, even moving there several years later when my son was a baby, and to this day, for me, there’s nothing like driving north on 101 or coming south across the Golden Gate Bridge to make the cells in my body feel like they’ve come home.

Have you ever visited a place where you felt like your DNA had come home? Where you instinctively knew you belonged? Where your very being felt at rest? That’s what driving passed the signs for the city limits and into San Francisco feels like for me.

So here I was, after leaving the Mt. Shasta area where I had been camping for several days, driving south to San Francisco. I had called ahead and gotten a reservation at the hostel I’ve stayed in before at Fort Mason near Fisherman’s Wharf, and could feel the excitement rise as I headed down Highway 101 towards the golden Gate Bridge. Excitement? I could barely stick with the speed limit, I was so excited 😀

As I passed through the now-all-electronic toll gates where a picture was taken of my car’s license plate to send me a bill for the toll, my cells settled in for an overnight stay in my favorite city. (Check out this 28-second time-lapse video of my 9-minute drive into the City, over the Golden Gate Bridge. Kinda trippy!)

I drove on into Fort Mason and checked into the hostel, threw my bag on the bed, and headed out to soak in the surrounding energy. Just hanging out in the City was so perfect!

fort-mason-hostel

I had only reserved one night at the hostel, so I checked out the next morning; however, after roaming around San Francisco for the day, I knew I had to call the hostel back and, and even though they’d said they were full-up when I had checked out earlier, see if there had been a cancellation, – and sure enough, there was. I checked back in, threw my backpack on yet another bed… and then banking on my good fortune so far, walked back to the front desk to see if by any chance that bed was available for an additional night. And yes, it was! (Even the guy at the desk was surprised!) Yay! Yippee! I settled in for my unexpected extended stay in San Francisco.

Over the next four days, I sat on benches, walked on trails, found a geocache or two, roamed among the nearby community gardens, caught a bunch of Pokémon, drank a few coffees, ate some delicious food, breathed in the air around me, walked among tourists at the wharf, talked with my fellow hostelers, shared food in the community kitchen, and in general, pretended to be a local. It was wonderful! Here’s a few pics from my adventures:

alcatraz
Taking a walk on the headlands and looking out across the bay to Alcatraz Island
tile-staircase
Driving to Ocean Beach, found a tiled staircase on the way
Cliff House as seen from Ocean Beach
The Pacific Ocean and Cliff House as seen from Ocean Beach
sun-with-sugar-cane-shrimp
Vietnamese bún with sugarcane shrimp… I love bún!
fort-mason-hostel-living-area
Hanging out in the living area in the Fort Mason hostel
pokemon-everywhere
It’s a hotbed of Pokemon activity!
Balmy Alley 26
Visited Balmy Alley which is a block-long “mural gallery” that began in 1972. Click on the photos in the gallery below to see the full-size pics or click on the first one and use the arrow keys to scroll through the entire gallery of full-size pics

[supsystic-gallery id=1]

homework-in-the-hostel
Loved this girl doing her homework in the hostel “living room” – must have been math because she was using her fingers to count on.
sunset-over-the-golden-gate
View from the hostel: Sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge
catching-pokemon-in-the-hostel
Check it out! Pokemon were hanging out in the living room, too 😀
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Met up for coffee with Sandra, a friend from Vancouver, WA, at Terminus Cafe near the Embarcadero – love meeting up with friends!
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Public transportation at Fisherman’s Wharf
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 Beautiful clouds over Ghiradelli Square near Fisherman’s Wharf
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Walking through Fort Mason
geocaching in SF Bay
Geocachers in the Bay Area have a wonderful sense of humor and a lot of creativity – it takes a whole bunch of work to set up these mystery caches!
pelargonium flower
Purple pelargonium flowers at the Fort Mason Community Gardens
lantana
Bright lantana flowers at the Fort Mason Community Gardens
sunflower
Sun setting behind a sunflower at the Fort Mason Community Gardens

My four days came to an end far too soon but it was so much fun to be there! If I had my druthers, and a boat-load of money, I’d move back there in a heartbeat, but the City is priced way beyond my means in this lifetime. Perhaps in the next one, I’ll come back as a permanent San Francisco resident. I’d love that.

I really enjoyed visiting my heart and soul – and knowing they’re well-taken-care-of in that City by the Bay.

It’s quite a conundrum, isn’t it? Knowing my heart and soul reside in SF but also knowing they travel with me wherever I go… weird, huh. Do you have a place where your soul resides in a place you don’t?

leaving the hostel
The view as I leave the hostel for the last time. It was a wonderful four days! Can’t wait to go back…

Looking forward to the day when I get to go back and visit my favorite city!

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PS. I wonder if Tony visits his heart like I visit mine?

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Check out this video of Tony Bennett singing my favorite song in 1994 (from MTV Unplugged):

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Some handy-dandy links:

Hosteling International San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf

Balmy Alley

Cafe Terminus – good coffee and easy access to/from BART

Kim Son Vietnamese Restaurant – great food!

Ocean Beach

Fisherman’s Wharf

Recipe for Vietnamese Bún thịt nướng (similar to the dish I had but with grilled pork instead of shrimp)

Me and Tony Bennett 2

6 thoughts on “Me and Tony Bennett 2

  • October 25, 2016 at 9:35 am
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    Hey Lois . . .
    Just a couple of observations:
    (1) The Empress has new shoes;
    (2) Looks like a Duck to me (Bay Area Geochachers); and
    (3) Do you have a place where your soul resides in a place you don’t?
    Yes . . . Europe (the food, people, country, villages, pace)
    Thoroughly enjoyed the ride, my friend.

    • October 26, 2016 at 1:41 pm
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      Hi Nancy!

      (1) No new shoes – the ones in the Balmy Alley pic are about 8 years old 😀
      (2) Yup, it looks like a duck to me, too! The amount of work that goes into getting the coordinates for each of the caches in order to get them to form into a shape like this is incredible to me! So much work 🙂
      (3) I fell in love with Europe, too. I haven’t been to very many countries but the difference between the US and Europe is apparent everywhere you go. When I landed in Prague, Czech Republic, I had the sense that I had been there before. My dad’s family came from the German-speaking part of Poland (or so I’m told) so maybe it was a familial connection to “eastern Europe” that I was experiencing. I don’t know but it is curious, isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  • October 25, 2016 at 12:08 pm
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    So glad you are having fun adventures! Really was fun having you stay with us for the few days you did. Till we meet again ❤

    • October 26, 2016 at 1:35 pm
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      Thanks for stopping by, Bruce! The next post is about you and Teresa 😀

  • November 7, 2016 at 8:24 pm
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    Yes! That quickening of the heart and soul as I come up 101 and make that turn where (cue angelic choir) the City comes into view. Or coming out of the tunnel, with fog curling over the headlands and (cue the Gay Men’s Chorus) the City comes into view. I really miss that place. Moving away is one of my few regrets.

    • November 9, 2016 at 2:41 pm
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      I agree, Al – I don’t regret much in my life but moving away from the City would top the very short list. I try to swerve away from I-5 on my north/south travels and just drive through, if nothing else. It’s my fix.

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