Home > Events > San Francisco (Day 14): Drifting North-East

San Francisco (Day 14): Drifting North-East

9 December. Index.

The next morning, Dr. Shapiro gave me a lift to the BART station. From there, I made my way to the Mission District for breakfast and my morning coffee.

The shop, Grand Coffee, was a small place, but really bright and colorful.


For coffee, I had a crazily juicy-tasting cup-and-a-half of Guatemalan coffee. The beans were from Four Barrel (a rather famous San Francisco roaster), and the coffee was brewed by French press. I loved it. Overall, too, I think this was my favorite coffee shop of the trip.

After coffee, I set off in the general direction of the other Anchor brewery. (In all fairness San Francisco’s Anchor Steam Beer beats our Anchor.) The most important thing that happened along the way, though, was coming across a bookbindery along the way. Someone working inside noticed me peering through the door, invited me in, and gave me a quick look around the place.


Talking with my guide, I also heard that the proprietor (on the phone in the office at the time) was also a Singaporean. I also got a bunch of tips for places to go in San Francisco, customized for the type of bloody hipster who would be diverted by a bookbindery.


After the bookbindery it was a short walk to the Anchor brewery, where a short enquiry revealed that there wasn’t really anything to tour. I’d not really expected there to be, but I’d intended to travel in that general direction anyway. After the tips I got, though, my plans were slightly different, so I backtracked and made my way in the direction of Valencia Street.

The change in plans gave rise to another en-route possibility, which was a visit to the Blue Bottle Coffee branch located on the premises of a glass factory. I had an espresso here, which was solidly done, but I guess I’m generally more of a brewed coffee person.

After this coffee stop, I picked up a burger somewhere for lunch, then continued on my way to Valencia Street.

When I arrived I could see why my friend at the bookbindery had made the recommendation. I went into two bookshops, the first of which was an all-Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Mystery shop. There I was strongly tempted to pick up a beautiful edition of Lovecraft’s Necromonicon. I ended up picking up a bunch of postcards instead. The second shop was also fun:


The shop where I stopped to talk the longest, though, was a pirate shop. The reason I stopped to talk for a while, though, was because they were running writing workshops on the premises for the schoolchildren from the area. This was a kind of community engagement, writing-related thing that some of my friends back home at the USP had been looking at doing (and which they eventually did).

At some point after the bookshops and before the pirate shop, I stopped in the public playground/park in the middle of Valencia Street for lunch. It was quite a nice spot, and it was also bright and sunny early-winter afternoon, so some of the kids were out too.

Following my visit to Valencia street, I’d intended to continue my northward drift towards Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner. I had an en-route stop in mind, and to get there I was going to have to head back to the BART station on Mission. As I went down the escalators to the train, though, I found myself wondering where that amazing singing voice I heard was coming from. I soon discovered who it was, and I stopped for a good 20 minutes or so to listen to this man playing:


I put some money into the case after the first song, and eventually put in some more after the fifth song I ended up staying to hear. It wasn’t a whole lot of cash, but as I was putting it in the singer thanked me for listening and passed me a copy of his CD, which was titled ‘Panhandler’. (If I recall correctly, the name on the cover was Samuel Norman Long, and I only doubt my memory in this because I can’t find any trace of him online anymore by that name, whereas I remember searching him up some time in December and finding a few videos of him playing at the 24th/Mission BART station entrance. This is a video of him, though.)

After that rather magical stop, I continued on my way to the stop I had in mind, this being City Lights Booksellers, which had also been recommended to me in the morning. The bookshop had a history as a gathering place for the Beat writers, and number of literary figures. It was located on this alley, that name of which inspired a momentary pang:


While I have a bunch of pictures from City Lights, it isn’t as present in my memory, perhaps from a combination of fatigue and having had other things on my mind.

After City Lights, I finally made my way to the Wharf, arriving just in time for sunset. I stayed out on the jetties for a while. I was getting hungry, though, and it was getting close to time for me to make my way back to the BART station and the Shapiros’, so I got myself a dinner of English-style fish & chips and fish tacos.

After dinner, I made my way back to Colma station, where Dr. Mrs. Shapiro picked me up. I rounded off the night with some Anchor Steam with Mr. Shapiro.


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  1. 7 April 2014 at 2:13 pm

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