The trip was great! San Francisco is a very unique and cool place to visit. People do not use personal cars there much, so we turned in our rental and hoofed it. =) We got a city pass for the public transport and used it to ride busses, trolleys, and underground trains. It also came with free passes to several museums, two aquariums, a ferry ride, and other things. Very worth it...think it was $59 each. Riding the public transportation was in itself a really interesting way to view the city. It was about half and half tourists and locals on all transportation we took. So if we had a question on which bus to take or thing to see, we asked the locals on the bus. Everyone was so kind, even the drivers, on giving us directions and advice. I loved seeing such a kind hearted city.
I think that in a place like Phoenix, where almost everyone uses their own car and then gets out and dashes into air conditioned buildings to go to their own space, people get very disconnected with other humanity. People are grouchy and bothered in Phoenix. I think we are losing that community spirit and just view other people in our daily world as givers to us and not real people we should connect with and be kind to. We were there for 5 days so we really got to see the real spirit of the city and not just a touristy glimpse.
San Francisco is divided into neighborhoods, kind of like New York City, but much smaller. The row houses are usually divided up in to apartments, so on one street there are hundreds of people living. And each neighborhood has a park or a square, a nice grassy block with trees, benches and surrounded by little shops and restaurants. We spent a little time each day at the square in our host's neighborhood. Locals would bring their dogs to the park and let them off their leash and the dogs were galloping the whole park and romping with each other. They come there each day, you could tell. It was so fun to watch the community spirit and neighbors sitting on the benches or standing in groups talking while their dogs romped. And from outward appearance, it is a very common sight to see people who are on their way home or from lunch or on a break maybe, just throw themselves onto the grass in their dress clothes even and lie in the sun, no blanket or folding chair, but just on the grass. Downtown where the modern art museum was had a lot of people out in the grass, just soaking in the sun or napping. And in every neighborhood park we saw, if it was sunny, people were doing the same. Fun.
It was also freezing cold. brrr! We had to buy an extra jacket (heavy windbreaker with fleece lining) because we couldn't stand it anymore. So we sat in the sun on park benches or short walls, we are not quite ready to go for lying in the grass where the dogs romp freely (if you know what I mean). Don't they have ants in San Fran??
We ate really good food too.....very gourmet appreciating city. We ate at Chinatown where the pot stickers and the green tea ice cream were sublime, a hip Italian place just off of 'our' square and had an interesting polenta appetizer, very much comfort food, a very hip Eur-asian place (our host gave us a gift certificate for there) and ate the fanciest meal we had while in San Francisco. I had a pork chop that was glazed with pomegranate and currant sauce and Charles had a chicken with portobello mushrooms and truffle sauce, and we had fish and chips on Fisherman's Wharf. (that is for Jackie, and no, I did not take pictures of our meals, that would be too much)
We went to church on Sunday morning, it took us about 20 minutes to go across town after walking several blocks, catching a bus, then taking the underground train. Huge, beautiful church, extraordinary worship leader. He was like a professional, but very humble and led from behind the grand piano, very good at leading you through a worship experience and focussing you on God. They had just lost their pastor in June. He passed away and the church was still in a state of grief, you could tell. One of the associate pastors preached one of those very inspiring and modern sermons, using props and audio visuals to get his teachings to relate. The congregation was a total mix of the community. It is good to see that, it means their church is reaching their area and relevant to their community. Our denomination's California seminary is just across the bridge, so there were some seminary students there too and a professor or two.
So all in all it was an exhausting, but really lovely trip. It was totally different than anything we would have planned to do, but we're glad we fell into it because it really gave us an appreciation of another place.....a big city with a sense of community, joy and kindness about it. The friend we stayed with is very sure that the city is on the verge of a huge revival of the believers there and coming to God of the community. So we are joining her in praying in that direction.
I am now going to carry a little sign, so that when people ask, "So how was your trip?" I can just hold it up "Read the blog." It's so hard to explain such a huge trip in a minute or so. ;)
We are so glad to be home though, it was very tiring. But I am making a commitment to be a kinder Arizonan, even while driving in my own car with all the masses who really don't know me, but will react better to kindness than to impatience and aggravation.