Polk Street is the main drag of San Francisco’s Russian Hill. We walked almost the length of it this morning. I am obsessed with Polk Street. It could have been dull if it weren’t for the shops and cafes gracing the ground floors of its buildings. Seemingly frozen in time, these funky businesses add a level of quirky sophistication to the would-be provincial street. The shops range from fashion forward boutiques to old-fashioned gifts and home goods. The single consignment shop boasts high -end designers from Chanel to Marc Jacobs. The food shops are mostly organic, the bakeries put out homemade -ooking goodies, and the king of food shops is a seafood place right out of the fifties, doubling as a fish restaurant where patrons sit on chrome high stools by the tiled counter and put away yummy seafood dishes prepared by a bunch of guys on the other side of the counter. Aside from the merchandise and food, the stores’ décor contributes to the street’s charm. Most of the stores and restaurants are out of the fifties and the décor is authentic. In accordance with the SF lax attitude, store owners never bothered to upgrade the décor, which first became outdated, then dated, then outright ancient, and then vintage and thoroughly cool. And such it remains with their turquoise fake leather upholstery, rough wooden floors, chrome accents, and tiled walls.
What is also amazing is the sheer number of colorful local bums – very different from New York bums, unpolished, gruff, rough-looking bearded men who could easily be used as extras in a period movie featuring The Gold Rush.
We had lunch with Jason at the SF Google office where instead of stairs Jason and I slid on our backs through a multicolored slide in the shape of a giant tube.
We feasted on Moroccan soup, Indian second course, and crab legs by the window overlooking the Bay Bridge and Oakland across the bay.
We then walked past many art deco buildings to the Jewish Museum incorporating an old power station and a thoroughly modern design by Daniel Libeskind, and then off to the very busy and congested shopping district all bedecked in Christmas finery. There, on the street, a female octogenarian sporting fluorescent turquoise sweat pants, an equally bright plaid jacket, and a mop of gray hair sticking out from a fancy hat, directed her walker towards us and, completely ignoring me, said to Kenny, “Hello darling, Merry Christmas to you.” Such is the spirit of this Pacific town.