All this week, I’m posting tempting tidbits for my fifth novel, Take A Look At Me Now, which is published this Thursday (24th October). Today, find out five things about San Francisco that surprised me…
1. How relentlessly positive everyone is… It takes a bit of getting used to, especially if you’re a typically cynical Brit. But I promise you, within a day you’ll be walking around with a great big loony grin on your face, just like Bob and I did. It’s amazing to be in a city where everyone believes anything is possible. It rubs off on you and you go home believing better things are on their way. That’s why San Francisco is the perfect place for Nell to rediscover her secret dream – and more determined to see it through when she returns to England.
2. How much music is a part of the city… It’s everywhere. In bars and restaurants, outside shops and on every street corner. Reggae, jazz, classical, rock, indie, blues – you name it, you’ll hear it. I loved that wherever Bob and I went we were surrounded by music.
3. How comparatively small the city is and easy to explore… Bob and I visited for six days and walked to most places from our hotel just up from Union Square. Minutes from there took us to Chinatown – which was like stepping into another world; take a right and you’re five minutes away from the Financial District with the famous TransAmerica Pyramid; five more minutes and we were at the Embarcadero, looking our across San Francisco Bay to the gorgeous Bay Bridge. When we weren’t walking, we were clinging to the side of wooden cable cars, riding the Muni trolley-buses and catching vintage trams on the F-Line along the shores of the San Francisco Bay.
4. How quickly you feel like a local… It takes a day or so to acclimatise, where everything from crossing the street to tipping in cafes and restaurants to the surprising automatic flushes of public toilets initially feels like you’ve landed on another planet. But then you suddenly realise you’ve been hopping on and off buses, buying things in shops and chatting with strangers as if you’ve lived in the city forever.
5. How beautiful the Bay is… You know it’s going to be lovely. You’ve seen the pictures and heard people waxing lyrical about it. But when you’re there and you see it for real, it takes your breath away. At the end of every day we spent in San Francisco, somehow Bob and I always ended up gazing out across the Bay with the Golden Gate Bridge on the left, the dark shadow of Alcatraz Island in the middle and the Bay Bridge to the right. Magical!
Oh – and an extra bonus thing:
6. That everywhere sells great coffee. Annie Legado (owner of Annie’s Dinner in Haight Ashbury – you’ll meet her in the book) would be proud:
‘Bottom line: there’s always coffee’