Ever since we moved to Eureka, Kiddlebiddle and I have taken one day of our summer visits to go to San Francisco.  When she was little it was the zoo.  A year later, Chinatown.  The next year, Fisherman’s Wharf.  Always touristy kind of stuff that could be done in a day.

This past year we’ve been to the city for very short overnights when we went to the ballet.  And as we drive through the city every three weeks on our “visit with Dad” drives, I’ve begun to think about showing her more of the city of my birth; the city I love dearly; where I went to college and where I lived for several happy years.

This year I decided to do just that.  At 11 she’s actually interested in learning more about mom’s history.  So I began a search for a reasonably priced hotel and was lucky enough to find  a package deal at what turned out to be a wonderful hotel!  The Galleria Park Hotel on Sutter, right in the financial district and just 3-4 blocks from Union Square (major shopping!) and Chinatown!  It was a FANTASTIC weekend!

First, the hotel was a renovated old building that was in outstanding shape and perfectly located.




in the lobby of the hotel

in the lobby of the hotel

On the way in to San Francisco Thursday afternoon, I took her by two of the places I had lived.  It’s been almost 20 years so though I knew where they were, finding my way wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped.  The trip down memory lane was pleasant for me and Kiddlebiddle seemed to enjoy it as well. 

We drove the entire length of Market Street and I told her the story of how my grandparents had brought their family out to San Francisco to escape the dust bowl of Oklahoma.  This allowed me to provide a short history lesson on both the dust bowl and the great depression and make an enthusiastic recommendation for the move “Grapes of Wrath.”  I explained that Grandma and Grandpa Wilson were lucky because they had a place to stay when they got to California.  My great aunt and uncle owned an upholstery shop on Market Street and they all lived above that shop for awhile.  The really neat thing was that years later, when I was a theatre arts student at San Francisco State, I discovered that one of the two theatre arts book stores I frequented, was in fact originally that very same upholstery shop!  Destiny!

We checked in to the hotel and immediately set out to explore a bit.  We didn’t go too far but managed to find Belden Place – a little alley that is closed off to traffic and consists of about 6 restaurants with outdoor tables.  There was just about any kind of food we could have wanted.  We settled on Italian, served by a waiter who was so Italian he barely spoke English!  It was like being in a European village.  Delightful.  Kiddlebiddle ordered “Halibut Cheeks” which she was delighted to find came with clams as well.  I went for my favorite meat: lamb chops.  (SIDE NOTE: I had already decided that this week I wasn’t going to worry about my diet.  And I didn’t.  I had cookies, scones, yummies.  When I got home: Yay! I hadn’t gained any weight!  I hadn’t lost either.  But I’ll take that trade off for vacation!)

Yum! Halibut Cheeks WITH clams!

That night we went to see the San Francisco Playhouse production of “Cabaret.”  Kiddlebiddle loves musical theatre (coming from a background of both parents in theatre and her love of dance).  The theatre was just a five block walk from our hotel and the weather obliged us with a lovely evening.  I knew Cabaret might be a bit “mature” for her but I’ve never hesitated to expose her to things as long as I could be there to illuminate the situation!  The production was fantastic and yes, it was raunchy.  But she didn’t mind (may not have “gotten” all the references either, that’s fine!).  She said she wasn’t uncomfortable but loved the show.  Another teaching opportunity as I explained the pre-world war II situation and what the nazi’s had done.  She was appalled at the history; enthralled with the show.

On Friday, the 4th of July, we decided to do a bit of shopping.  We were somewhat successful but discovered that because of the holiday, some of the shops we wanted to visit weren’t open!  So…off we headed to Japantown!  I got Kiddlebiddle some (inexpensive) black pearl earrings; some goodies for UkeHusband; and we had a delightful lunch followed by mochi ice cream!



Saturday we headed out the hotel and to our very first important stop: Artfibers Yarn.  I had planned to look up their address and if it wasn’t too out of the way, head over sometime that weekend.  Imagine my delight to find it was right across the street!  They are set up with needles and sample skeins and encourage you to try your hand with whatever yarn appeals to you!  We both knit swatches and yes, I bought yarn.  Some for me and some for her. 


my Golden Chai (100% tussah silk)

my "Golden Chai" (100% tussah silk)

Kiddlebiddles Ginko - bamboo and silk

Kiddlebiddle's "Ginko" - bamboo and silk


After Artfibers we took off for more shopping (she’d never seen a Macy’s with that many stories!) and dreaming.  The kid wants to grow up sooooo fast.  Look at the shoes she wanted (I said no).  Now that she can fit into women’s sizes, she’s got “delusions of grown-up-ness!”

After exhausting ourselves, we decided to go to a museum show.  The Palace of the Legion of Honor had an exhibit of women impressionists.  Great.  Only I read the map wrong (am I sure I LIVED in SF?) and we ended up in the wrong part of the city.  No problem.  We ended up at Fort Point!  What serendipity.  We added more history, along with tons of beauty, to our visit.
The Golden Gate Bridge was built right over Fort Point!
The Golden Gate Bridge was built right over Fort Point!



That evening, we went to see BATS (Bay Area Theater Sports http://www.improv.org/ ) Improv competition.  It was a BLAST!  An old friend of mine (meaning a long time…he’s actually a little younger than I am) is their musical director.  I hadn’t seen Joshua in about 20 years!  The show was fantastic and Kiddlebiddle got to go on stage during one piece and she brought down the house.  She’d done some improv at acting camp last year and was poised and witty!  I think returning to see the improv will have to be a regular part of our annual San Francisco trip.
I sincerely hope that next year I can find a “deal” at the same hotel.  We had such a wonderful weekend of mother/daughter bonding and just plain fun!  For more photos, visit the Flickr site for the this set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/balletmommy/sets/72157606020496544/