Travel, Weekend Unexplored
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A Weekend Unexplored: San Francisco


It was the evening before Valentine’s Day when I took BART to the Embarcadero stop to grab dinner at the Ferry Building.  Inside the Marketplace, I joined the flow of locals and tourists stopping for chocolate tastings, hors d’oeuvres,  and wine from various merchants that lined the transit hall as part of the 9th annual “Food from the Heart” event.  My final destination lies at the very other end of the Grand Nave where I could hear tango music playing in the distance above the chattering crowd around me.  With the music of Di Sarli drawing me closer, I saw a group of tango dancers moving elegantly to his orchestra’s sweet serenade.

Too often I’ve experienced the Ferry Building Marketplace amid the bustle of daylight grocery shopping.  How different the space becomes at night when the lights soften and romance fills the air for events like this one.


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With a Peets coffee in hand, I stumbled upon this storefront while walking down Valencia Street in the Mission.  Valencia is lined with an array of restaurants, vintage stores, and cafes that cater to its hipster residents.  This shop, in particular, caught my eye because of its name.


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The shop houses an eclectic selection of art, books, magazines, jewelry, and clothes.  Needles & Pens, as I soon came to find out, was established in the Mission in 2003 with the purpose of featuring home-made arts, crafts, as well as literary works of local people in the community. Flipping through the recycled pages of home-published zines, I found myself captivated by colorful drawings, sketches, and paragraphed thoughts of those quite possibly living right next door!


If there’s a dessert I always crave, it is a pie…Mission Pie to be exact.  Sitting on the corner of 25th and Mission Street, I stopped in on my way home to grab a bite to eat and to fulfill my dessert craving. This shop serves both savory and sweet pies with vegetables and fruits baked in from local farms, coffee and teas of various sorts, breakfast granola and hot cereals, as well as homemade soups, stews, and salads for evening fare.

All ingredients and goods sold are locally grown and made.  The owners even leave space on their shelves to showcase the jams, chocolates, and honey of makers in the area.  Mission Pie partners with local vendors, distributors, and farms as well as Blue House Farm, Straus Family Creamery, and Marin Sun Farms.  Depending on what is available and in season from these sources, the pie flavors change according to what is in season.



Their menu offers pies by the slice or as a whole.  My personal favorite is their walnut pie.  Nutty, sweet, and decadent with a glob of whipped cream, this pie always leaves me stuffed and happy.


I was invited to a company party held at Minna Gallery that night.  The space consists of two rooms, each equipped with a fully stocked bar, raised stage, and rotating art exhibits.  Located on a little alley off 2nd Street, it’s quite easy to miss.  The urban industrial decor of the gallery, including the high ceilings and bare piping, complements the contemporary works that hang on its walls.



With a drink in hand and stops along the way for conversation, I was able to peruse the art across both rooms. I already anticipated the next exhibit that was to come in April.


I set off to hike part of the Coastal Trail and then down to the shoreline of Lands End.  It’s my favorite hike that provides absolutely breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the ruins of the Sutro baths.


The wind along this trail left me breathless but so did the views.  Even along the beach, I encountered beautiful surprises.

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At the trail’s end, I could not help but feel grateful for living in such a city as lovely as San Francisco.

Author:  Jenny Lam (A San Francisco enthusiast)

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