This is turning into a what-I-did-on-my-summer-working-vacation blog, but I guess that's okay. After a hectic couple of weeks in Japan we came back to the States, to Eugene via San Francisco. Our first visit there.
We didn't do much in SF that falls under the purview of this blog. We visited the Haight so that I, as a semicloseted hippie wannabe, could fantasize that I was getting a sense of what it might have been like, and so I could stand in front of 710 Ashbury Street. We went to the Asian Art Museum, but I was too jet-lagged to really enjoy it, except for the original copy of The Four Immigrants Manga they had on display. I went to the City Lights bookstore, and was disappointed by their selection of haiku (whatever you're going to say: yes, I know). We went to Mission Dolores - but that deserves a post of its own.
That said, in a blog dedicated mostly to things I find beautiful, I just have to say: San Francisco is the most beautiful city I've ever seen.
The inevitable caveats: I haven't traveled much outside the US, so I make no claims for it vis-a-vis Venice, Paris, Buenos Aires, Delhi, or wherever. And I haven't been to every important American city, although I've been to a lot. And I'm not talking "most awesomest city": that would be Tokyo, hands down. And I make no judgments as to SF's liveability: I think I'd like its public transport, its food, its weather, and its politics, but I'm sure there's a lot I wouldn't like.
And I'm not talking about the city with the most beautiful things in it: that might be Kyoto, or (I grudgingly admit) New York. I'm talking of the city itself, of city as art object, as something to look at in its own right.
And everywhere I looked in San Francisco - and I know we were only there for four days, and mostly only saw the touristy spots - I saw beauty. The buildings, the hills, the public art, the views of the bay and the bridges and the skyscrapers and the endless Victorians. San Francisco is breathtaking.