Monday, March 31, 2008

Virtual Vacation: San Francisco - In Search of Barbary Lane

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Given that part of the reason I chose San Francisco for my first virtual vacation is my enduring affection for the 1979 novel Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, I've decided that my first order of business should be to go in search of 28 Barbary Lane, described in the book as being "off Leavenworth between Union and Filbert". Now, I'm not a total loony; I know the street is fictional, but it gives me an excuse to ramble zig-zaggedly through Chinatown and Telegraph Hill before making my way to Russian Hill on my little pilgrimage. The image, by the way, is from the Tales miniseries, and looks just the way it's described in the book.

Setting out from the hotel eastward on Geary Street, I take a blocklong diagonal on Market Street, before turning north onto Montgomery Street craning my neck all along the way like some kind of tourist (although, to be fair, I do this at home too).

I decide to take in the viewing platform at the Transamerica Pyramid before continuing on; the views looking north from the 27th floor are as breathtaking as I'd expected. The other reason I'd like to travel is to take as many pictures as possible, which is also why I'd be traveling alone; this habit of mine invariably become irksome to even the most patient of companions. Using my Eyewitness Guide as a, well, as a guide, I take several photographs of Russian Hill, as there are no suitable ones on the Internet.

Leaving that building I decide to check out Jackson Square, which is where the offices of Halcyon Communications were in Tales. This charming bit of old San Francisco makes it stand out from the rest of the downtown, which is fairly Manhattan-ized; I grab a bench and try to see if I can spot some latter-day Mary Ann Singleton or Beauchamp Day among the crowds.

That bit of reverie done with, I make my way along Columbus Avenue as far as Washington Square in the North Beach neighbourhood; after taking a look at the ornate twin spires of Sts. Peter and Paul Church (and taking a few pictures) it's just four blocks west on Union Street, a right turn onto Leavenworth, and at the mid-point of the block I'm in the actual heart of the fictional place that first stole my heart so many years before.
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1 comment:

Y | O | Y said...

On warm days, there are lots of folks enjoying Washington Square. It is fun to get a bottle of wine, some cheese and crackers, and wile away the time.