Well, I have fallen in love with San Francisco. It only took 24hours. Conference done and dusted – and a successful one, too, with two good connections and good feedback for my presentation – on Saturday evening I at last was able to ‘kick back’ and begin to relax. The evening began with the conference reception at the Asian Art Museum, where we were treated to lovely Californian wine and an enormous spread of sushi, which I tucked into with gusto. The Samurai exhibit was small but very interesting. However by far the most impressive of all the exhibits was a 12th century wooden statue of the Boddhisatva Avalokitesvara, (male aspect of the female Boddhisatva, Tara) which still carried with it the power and presence of a deity, and made quite an impression on me. It was quite humbling and quite an honour to stand before it.
The evening then continued with a visit to San Francisco’s gay district, on Castro. I have to say that I found this much more appealing than Manchester’s Canal Street gay district, which has very much lost its shine since the 1990s. As well as a number of bars and clubs, Castro includes restaurants, and a whole range of different shops, catering to the gay community. The Twin Peaks bar, moreover, caters to everyone. Quite in contrast to Manchester’s Canal Street, this bar was full over men over 30 – some indeed quite elderly – as well as younger men, and women of a similar range of ages. This was SO refreshing, and I immediately liked the bar, its atmosphere, and fell to talking with people at the bar, and had a thoroughly good night! People in this town are so friendly!
The following morning, I got a lift with one of the new friends I had made in the Twin Peaks bar – a retired Judge – in his Lexus, around the town and over the Golden Gate Bridge and down into Sausalito, where he dropped me off before heading off further north. Sausalito is a lovely little place, and I had a delicious Clam Chowder at one of the pier restaurants, and wandered up and down the sea front until finally getting the ferry back across the bay to the Ferry Building at San Francisco. There was a couple on the boat, too, who took my photo for
Back in the City, I of course then had to take a ride on the Cable Car, before finally returning to the hotel, tired but beaming after a truly delightful twenty four hours in friendly, welcoming San Francisco!