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San Francisco walk and learn


San Francisco City Guides free walking tours (donations encouraged) are quirky, rendered so by the volunteer nature of the whole operation. The guides do their own research and bring their passions and interests to the enterprise. The weakest spot in the enterprise is the titles of the tours, which are made to sell rather than to really describe the content.

A period room recreating a private room in Chinatown’s first nightclub

A couple of weeks ago we took a couple of tours there, one about San Francisco as a phoenix returning after the 1906 earthquake and ensuing firestorm, the other about the Gold Rush.

One of the highlights of the phoenix tour was a floor devoted to a little museum in an old Market Street hotel (I think it was the Whitcomb). City government took up residence there after City Hall burned down following the earthquake. The museum included pictures from the era as well as a sort of museum period room–recreating a private room from Charlie Low’s Forbidden City, Chinatown’s first nightclub.

A layer cake building

The gold rush tour was rather a disappointment, giving little information about what life was like in that period. But I loved seeing how a couple of old buildings that survived fires and earthquakes got topped with modern glass towers.

Inside the Scribe Winery hacienda, one of the buildings to be restored at some point.

Of course the real reason we were there was to see family. And that was the highlight. We went with Minna and Ben to Sonoma for the wine (Cline and Scribe wineries–two very different experiences) and left still standing. Cline’s wines were pretty great, and we loved the exotic fowl they had on display, from pheasants to chickens. At Scribe, a new place, the wines were still young, but the experience was totally non-standard and personal. Loved it. Alas my pictures of the people we saw and love were even more awful than usual!