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Old Jan 22, 10, 3:02 am
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: IAD, BOS, PVD
Programs: UA, US, AS, Marriott, Radisson, Hilton
Posts: 7,200
SFO - slightly stale report

As I have nothing to do - can't sleep as the tv at the other bed is
cranked loud enough for me to make out everything clearly through
my earplugs - here's the beginning of a report about what I did
after the Mega Do:

I'd booked that trip to San Fran not just because it was a
maximization of time with the comforts of biz, but because
there are always friends in San Fran to visit, and it was
time to do some visiting. As I had but two days before
heading back to the salt mines, several people I had sort
of wanted to catch up with fell by the wayside. I ended up
spending much of my two days with my friends Pat and Mike,
epicures on a moderate budget but whom I managed to coax a
bit upward from their budgetiness.

I was picked up at the airport by Mike's well-beaten Toyota,
and we immediately cast about, as people of our ilk do, for
food and drink. After a few suggestions had been tossed out,
we started off at the Cliff House, where we were hoping
to enjoy a couple Scotches and maybe a snack overlooking
the crashing waves. This wish was dashed by the prospect of
dozens of families (it was, I forgot, Saturday) and a 45-
minute wait, complete with vibrating flying saucer pager.
After we scanned the neighborhood, we decided that was not
to our liking, so we trekked over to the Presidio and its
famous Liverpool Lil's (actually just outside the bounds)
- one or two or three of us were looking forward to one of
the famous burgers and at least I was looking forward to
one of the famous beers. Lil's is, how you say, an upscale
bar with aspirations to be a dive bar. The lighting is
crummy and the atmosphere ever so slightly raffish. But the
burgers are said to be among the best in the universe, as
they might as well be at $13 or 14. We had Anchor Steams
and a glass or two of red plonk and split two sandwiches
among the three of us (remember, I had leaden Germanic
quiche in my stomach still), one with cheese, and one, in
deference to me, without. The burgers are very good. There
are better, but not every day.

Next stop, 16th and Moraga, to climb the mosaic staircase.
I was skeptical at first, but it really is a thing of
inspiration and beauty. Apparently, some community activists
decided that something had to be done to lighten the hearts
of the people who had to climb this mighty stair every day;
the solution: get local residents to assemble mosaic panels
that would constitute the risers, the cumulative effect a
fanciful and bright-colored seascape-to-skyscape slice of
the world. I hate to say it, I was thrilled.

Well. Bearing in mind that I'd just flown in from Europe,
and it was coming on midnight in the time zone that I had so
recently futilely tried to assimilate to, so I was taken to
my hotel, the Hilton Financial District, where I've stayed
before, and which despite its noisy location, I kind of
enjoy. The noise is solved by the management providing
earplugs in the rooms! I said goodbye to P & M and went
up to my fairly nice room on the someteenth floor for a
shower, an hour of work, and an hour of snooze. Then a quick
walk to Gitane, where I rejoined them. The reason for this
choice: they're fond of Cafe Claude, which is right across
Claude Alley, and it was time to check out this newer
restaurant, which is under the same ownership or management
or something and has a younger and more Mediterranean vibe
than the original. And heaven knows, we have to take every
opportunity to recapture our youth and Mediterranean vibe.

I got there a little early and felt just a little out of
place having my drink at the bar, which was buzzing with
fashionable young singles. My glass of Daron Calvados was
as unfashionable as my bright blue L.L. Bean jacket (bought
for me by my brother-in-law many years ago so I could be
seen when I wandered off myopically by myself in the Italian
countryside), but it was warming and served well as a cough
suppressant - I'd ordered a Metaxa for this purpose (an old
girlfriend taught me this worthy use), but they didn't have
any. In a few minutes I felt a poke in the back; it was Pat
or Mike, being subtle, saying we were ready to go upstairs
to dinner. It's a smallish noisyish dining area, pleasant
enough, but certainly designed to augment one's sense of
excitement via increased decibels. Our conversation was
perforce at a higher volume if not intellectual level than
we are accustomed to.
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