As well as being the terminus of the longest journey (see my blog post of that name), this is also the city where I shall spend the most nights: three in a hostel at Fort Mason on the bay, then after my return from Yosemite three at a hotel in Chinatown and two with a Servas host.
The hostel has a superb location and is one of the oldest buildings in the historic Fort Mason area a mile from Fisherman’s Wharf. (It is called HI Fisherman’s Wharf.). I had been allocated an upper bunk, but asked if I could have a lower one instead. This meant moving to another room, where I had good conversations with Alice from Hong Kong, who sent me an email of things to do there, and Roshi from California, who wanted to talk about death and the soul. On my first night I went down a long flight of steps to the lower level of the Fort Mason complex, where they have food and drink stalls on Friday nights. Lots of people and a good atmosphere. I had clam chowder for $5, not wanting to fiddle with counting coins or changing a large note in the dark.
On Saturday I checked how long it would take to walk to the pickup point on Monday (7 minutes) and to the cathedral on Sunday (about 45 but it may depend on how many hills are on the route). I said Morning Prayer in the cathedral, arriving half an hour after their service. Then walked along Jackson checking out a needlepoint shop (very expensive) and picking up some snacks in Safeway. Ate some cheese and fruit in a small park, and continued to the Farmers’ Market in the Ferry Building (overwhelming),
then along Market Street and Hayes to the Golden Gate Park which was further than I expected. It would take too long to walk through the park to Ocean Bay, so I cut up to the North and found a trail to the crest of the Praesidio hill, then down a very long steep flight of steps and a fairly steep road to sea level. There was at least one wedding celebration going on outside the Museum of Fine Arts and by the Chrissie Field beach. Got home about 6, having stopped off at another Safeway to buy something for supper.
On Sunday went to the cathedral. St Michael and All Angels, with the hymns we would have chosen in Gothenburg. Sermon about war in heaven, or in contemporary teenspeak, “the struggle is real”. Good conversations with members of the congregation, including a deacon who found her vocation in the Athens chaplaincy, over coffee.
In the afternoon, I visited John Mabry in Berkeley, having read his book about a sabbatical to explore Buddhism in Asia and wanting to discuss it with him in view of my forthcoming journey. I stayed on for evening worship at his church, an impressive service, which included blessings for travel. Back to the hostel to have a final washing of clothes and pack everything into two bags rather than three to meet the requirements of the bus to Yosemite.
Notes: $50 bills are useless on BART, and if offered a lift to the station, check which station! Fortunately I realized that my return ticket might not cover the journey. The driver offered me a few coins but actually gave me $5. This was OK as the additional fares machine gives change, all in coins, up to $4.95!