Where to begin!
We left Ann Arbor on the 1st in the middle of the afternoon, a flurry of bags and mopeds on the porch and cats wanting attention. Part of our trip was paid for with flight vouchers, so we had to fly through a Midwest hub – which meant that the much more convenient Detroit airport was out of the question. Instead we drove two hours to Grand Rapids, left our car with Shane’s moped acquaintance, and were ferried to the GR airport withOUT the much desired side-trip to Founders for Nemesis. Sorry, Shane.
Our flights – first a 20 minute hop to Milwaukee, then about four hours in the air to SF – were uneventful, and we enjoyed the free cookies, even though they were served cold. “Fresh baked”? Riiiight. Our second flight was operated by Frontier, each of whose planes bear an animal portrait. Get it, “bear”? Anyway, our animal co-pilot was Sarge, the bald eagle, who took good care of us and of Nancy Pelosi, our flight’s VIP.
We rolled into SF around 9pm local time, but by the time we claimed our luggage, took the airport shuttle to the BART, rode the BART to downtown, and walked a mile mostly uphill to our hostel, we were feeling every minute of the time difference and the long day. Our hostel – the Green Tortoise – was conveniently located near Chinatown and a bunch of sex shops, none of which were particularly interesting at that hour of the night. What was interesting was our private room, comfy bed, and sweet oblivion.
In the morning, refreshed by a hot shower and a good night’s sleep, we queued up for breakfast at Mama’s on Washington Square, just a few blocks’ walk from our hostel. Now, it’s not that I’m opposed to waiting in line for good food. I think there are times when this is a perfectly reasonable thing to do – like when you’re trying to get brunch in Chicago, for example. This might also explain why we rarely find ourselves getting brunch anymore – we wake up hungry, and the idea of standing in line for an hour when we’ve already delayed breakfast by an hour or two is just unbearable. We were subsequently told that the line at Mama’s can take more than an hour, but since it was 8:30 on a Thursday, our wait was between 20-30 minutes.
Who in their right mind waits in a 20-30 minute line for breakfast at 8:30 on a Thursday? Tourists, that’s who. And every dang person in the line was a tourist, replete with guidebooks and maps and loud conversations about Cleveland. As tourists ourselves, we had little room to talk, but I think the line strengthened our resolve to seek out neighborhood places, not ones in the guidebooks. Once inside, we ordered our breakfasts – a French toast sampler for Shane and a tomato and prosciutto Benedict for me – then settled down for coffee and people-watching.
I look somewhat stricken in this photo, but really I’m just hungry and undercaffeinated. Breakfast fixed all of that promptly:
Oh beautiful pile of delicious savory things! The eggs were overdone and the prosciutto overly salty, but the hollandaise was mild and the slices of heirloom tomatoes helped to even it out. The breakfast potatoes were excellent. Shane was less satisfied with his breakfast – the French toast was dense and barely, well, French toasted – but between our two plates, we left full and happy.
If you go:
Green Tortoise Hostel
494 Broadway (Broadway and Kearny)
San Francisco, CA 94133
Comfortable, clean, and free meals – breakfast every day, dinner three nights/week. Bring your own towel or pay $1 to borrow one. We paid around $65/night for a single room with a shared bathroom, which is absolutely cheap by SF hotel standards.
Mama’s on Washington Square
1701 Stockton Street (Stockton and Filbert)
San Francisco, CA 94133-2914
Go early, or go prepared to stand in line for 30-90 minutes. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.