Kung Hei Fat Choy (Happy New Year!)

Happy Chinese New Year!! On Saturday, I went downtown for the annual Chinese New Year’s Parade. It is said to be the largest Chinese cultural gathering outside of China. And despite the cold, rainy weather, there were almost 1 million people who showed up to ring in the Year of the Rabbit. All the photos below are mine, but I don’t take very good pictures at night. I encourage all of you to check out these photos taken by Whole Wheat Toast.

Above: This is a lion. Not a dragon. The Chinese Lion Dance is a staple of all their celebrations because they believe the lion will fight off evils. It seemed like every organization had a 2-man lion costume as part of their act.

Below: The first musical ensemble and probably my favorite in the whole show. There were several drum corps and marching bands, including the UC Davis marching band playing their rendition of Bad Romance. But this group was the best!

The parade took place at night so all the floats were beautifully lit. And you know what else people love at night? Fireworks. Every parade marcher had a basket full of fireworks and would light them and then drop them on the street. It was very loud and made the parade much more exciting…however I am certain the person who had to clean the streets was not excited.

This is a group of elementary students dressed as rabbits performing their adorable choreographed routine. As I said, I don’t know how to take night pictures, so I took a lot of video. And I guess it’s good cuz you get to experience more than just pictures would show.

Below: My favorite picture from the whole night! This is a 5-year-old boy in a lion costume who would walk up to the crowd and make the lion’s eyes blink and wink. It was SO CUTE!

The grand finale of the parade was a gigantic 250-foot dragon that snaked through the parade. According to www.chineseparade.com, it takes a team of over 100 men and women from the martial arts group, White Crane, to carry this dragon throughout the streets of San Francisco. You can’t tell from these pictures/video, but the dragon was lit from underneath and was absolutely beautiful!

http://www.chineseparade.com/

Chinese New Year Parade, 1M Attend

Chinese New Year: Thousand brave wind, rain

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion_dance

Update: Fisherman’s Wharf

I went back to Fisherman’s Wharf this weekend and found 4 restaurants that I just had to tell you about. But first, here’s an update. When I was there last month, I walked out onto Hyde St Pier and took lots of pictures. Well, this is what it looks like with no fog. See, you can see The GG bridge from here.

my husband and me on Hyde St Pier

Ok, moving on to the important part: food. Restaurant #1 was The Pub at Ghirardelli Square (www.thepubsf.com 851 Beach St). The inside is decorated to look like an Irish pub – heavy wooden bar, Guinness sign on the wall, etc. – but modern and hip at the same time. They serve typical bar food, but also specialize in BBQ. I had the pulled pork sandwich and it was very good!

photo courtesy of ghirardellisquare.com

The second restaurant of note is the Sea Lion Cafe (www.sealioncafe.com). It it located on Pier 39 at the very end. And it’s kind of hidden behind Neptune’s. But this place is VERY COOL because you get a great view of the bay while you dine. I recommend this place because it’s cheaper than Neptune’s but with the same food and same view. The clam chowder is excellent!

view from Sea Lion Cafe

Time for number 3? OK. The third restaurant is The Blue Mermaid (www.bluemermaidsf.com. 471 Jefferson St. “Home of the award-winning California Clam and Corn Chowder!”). This is a really great place to get fresh seafood. I had the fresh dungeness crab and it was awesome! If the whole crab is outside your budget, they also serve a half dungeness crab for $14.95. Ask if you can get Brian to be your waiter…he is a hoot!

the blue mermaid

photo courtesy of Life.com

I saved the best for last! Oh, I’m so excited to tell you this! I have found the place to get the original, most delicious, Irish Coffee in the world! It’s called the Buena Vista Cafe (http://thebuenavista.com intersection of Hyde St and Beach). Listen to me carefully. Do not go to Buena Vista and order a martini or a beer. I will kill you if you do. You must order an Irish Coffee. It’ll cost $7.50, but I promise it’s worth every penny! Mmmmm…a hot beverage tastes so good on a cold night! And I recommend that you sit at the bar and watch the guy making them. It’s very entertaining.

cheers!

Bubble Tea: Not For Me.

I took this picture of Old St. Mary’s Cathedral on the same day I went to Chinatown. It’s on the corner of Grant Ave. and California St. The top picture is the one I took in 2011, and the one below was taken in 1957. It is from the library archives.  Cool huh?

I found this wikipedia link for Chinatown that is full of useful information. The Bow Hon Restaurant is mentioned here (so now you know I didn’t eat at some sketchy joint). It also gives information about other stuff to do in the same area. http://wikitravel.org/en/San_Francisco/Chinatown

Another thing I wanted to mention is that Rachael Ray came to SF for $40 a Day and she ate at the Oriental Pearl Restaurant (corner of Grant and Clay). I wanted to eat there but it was closed the day I went.

Now I’m gonna tell you about bubble tea (a.ka. Pearl Tea or Pearl Milk). This is a huge new fad here in SF an everybody’s drinking it. Not me. You either order regular iced tea with “bubbles” in it, or you get a slushy with “bubbles” in it. And what are the “bubbles”, you ask? They are little tapioca balls that sink to the bottom of the cup (the black things in the photo above). If you’ve never had tapioca pudding, this is gonna be really hard for you to imagine. Tapioca balls are about the size of aspirin tablets and they’re squishy and chewy. You drink your tea (or slushy) with a big straw and suck up the tapioca balls while you drink. It’s a very strange feeling. I can’t stand don’t find many occasions to drink bubble tea, but I’m the only one in the whole city. All my friends drink it and go gaga over it. My friend, @stammy, recommends that you get your tea at Ten Ren (949 Grant Ave).  I think it should be called Pebble Tea because the balls sink…but that’s just me.

And finally, in an effort to keep you here a little longer, I want to mention one more thing. There are no trees or bushes on the sidewalks of Fisherman’s Wharf. None whatsoever. So if you see a shrub, it’s probably a homeless guy hiding and waiting to jump and scare the s#!t out of you. Don’t worry, they’re not going to rob you; they are hoping that you’ll see someone else get frightened and pay for the laugh.

I Found The Bridge!

Remember, a couple of weeks ago, when I went to Fisherman’s Wharf and I couldn’t see the bridge because it was too foggy? Well, I can now confirm that there is indeed a beautiful orange bridge that spans the bay in San Francisco. Behold, the Golden Gate Bridge!

This beautiful beach/bridge view can be found at a park called Crissy Field. You can see Alcatraz too. The famous landmarks, and the smell of the ocean, and the sound of foghorns made me feel like I was in a postcard.

You should visit Crissy Field the same day that you visit the Palace of Fine Arts. When you’re finished at the palace, walk north on Baker St until it turns into sand. This is Crissy Field.

It was originally an air field, part of the Presidio Air Force Base. But in 1974, the base closed, and the air field became a national park. In the 1990’s, there was a big push to recreate the natural habitat and turn the park into a Wildlife Conservancy….which it still is today. So it’s not all commercialized like Fisherman’s Wharf. There are lots of trees and birds that make it seem secluded from busy city life.

On this day, there were people picnicking, running, biking, kayaking, and flying kites. It seems like it’s the perfect spot for some good, old-fashioned, family fun! If you go on a pretty day (highly recommended), you should get a sandwich and a drink at the Beach Hut Cafe, and just sit and enjoy for a while (the sandwiches are expensive, but remember that you’re paying for the atmosphere).

OR… you could walk down to the Warming Hut and go on the Mystery Trail Challenge. I didn’t do the challenge, but I picked up a pamphlet that made it sound fun! You get “a booklet that directs you down the Mystery Trail to nine secret plaques along the one-mile waterfront trail. A prize awaits you if you find them all!” (This challenge is free. For groups of 20 or more, please call 415-561-3040)

OK. So what are you waiting for? Your San Francisco postcard scene awaits!

 

Helpful Links:
www.crissyfield.org
Wikipedia Article – Crissy Field
Google Map of Crissy Field

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