web analytics

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!


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:

Taking a walk on the headlands and looking out across the bay to Alcatraz Island
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
Vietnamese bún with sugarcane shrimp… I love bún!
Hanging out in the living area in the Fort Mason hostel
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]

Loved this girl doing her homework in the hostel “living room” – must have been math because she was using her fingers to count on.
View from the hostel: Sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge
Check it out! Pokemon were hanging out in the living room, too 😀
Met up for coffee with Sandra, a friend from Vancouver, WA, at Terminus Cafe near the Embarcadero – love meeting up with friends!
Public transportation at Fisherman’s Wharf
 Beautiful clouds over Ghiradelli Square near Fisherman’s Wharf
Walking around 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
Bright lantana flowers at the Fort Mason Community Gardens
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!

blog signature

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

4 thoughts on “Me and Tony Bennett

  • October 24, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    Wonderful mail, Lois. I’m SO happy for you. I have no doubt this trip has lifted your spirits. I absolutely agree with your comment about how some places just feel like home. I had this experience last year. I have NEVER wanted to travel to Europe. I had personal reasons for not wanting to set foot in England in particular (family stuff). But for some OTHER reasons, I promised to go visit a friend there last year. It was not until almost the very end of the trip when I realized that England had touched me deeply and left me feeling as if I’d finally “arrived home”. It is the only place I’ve ever been that left me feeling a deep sense of belonging. I cannot explain it but I was just back this month and it’s left an even deeper hook in my soul. I’ve been travelling to USA for many years. Love California and it always feels like “coming home” but not the same as that sense of belonging you wrote about. Wonderful to hear such happy news from you, Lois. I’ll be waiting to hear where you’re off to next. You go, girl!! I’m in Portugal at the moment. Love, Marilyn

    • October 25, 2016 at 5:44 am

      Hi Marilyn! Isn’t it the coolest thing ever to find a place where you feel like you belong? Not that we don’t belong elsewhere… but you know what I mean! Wonderful news to hear that you, to, have discovered a place like that! Good on ya! I’m excited for your adventures! Rock on!

      Big hugs and love to you ♡

      PS. I can’t wait till I get to visit Portugal, where you are now, when I walk the pilgrimage to Santiago, Spain. Yay for you!

  • October 25, 2016 at 5:53 am

    Tony, you and me, Lois.

    I hit SF back in July for the first time in about 20 years. But, the energy returned instantly to me. Unfortunately, because of future commitments, I only had part of an afternoon, so I didn’t get to enjoy most of the things I enjoy in the City by the Bay. But, I did get to Pier 39 to the Chowder Shop for my sourdough bread bowl of Manhattan clam chowder. Walked that pier and enjoyed fun memories. Walked Fisherman’s Pier and people watched. Hit the Cannery and a few other quick things before climbing back in My McVansion and making the drive north over the Golden Gate.

    That was a few days before meeting up with a woman who worked for me 38 years ago in Newport, OR. She had lived in Alaska all those years and had just moved back to the lower 48. I had no contact with her in all those years.

    And then I met up with you in Kaiser, OR on my way to my Air Force buddy’s place in Newberg, OR. Unforgettable trek and so glad you were part of it, though all too brief a visit.

    Live free and be happy,

    • October 26, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      Hi Ed!

      How many times, since I’ve been on the road this past bunch of years, have I just driven though the City on my way by. Of course, it really isn’t on the way by, unless one is driving 101, but it’s always been worth the effort to drive a bit out of the way just to cruise through the streets and soak up the vibe. Even a little fix is better than none at all 😀

      It was great seeing you on your way through Oregon – having lunch with you was my first face-to-face with another road traveler since I had left Nevada the previous year. Yes, it was way too short but again, a little bit of time is better than none at all.

      Looking forward to the next time we’re in the same “time and space,” my friend!

      Be well! Thanks for stopping by…

Comments are closed.