Pigeon Point an ideal seaside getaway

Every so often a day comes along that’s a perfect convergence of time and place, the air imbued with that special tinge of golden light unique to California, a little slice of heaven that seems frozen in time. When a beautiful day such as this falls in January or February, I prefer to be on the coast, near the ocean, with a little extra sparkle to the water from the low-arcing sun.

If I’m in the city, I might zip to Ocean Beach for a stroll, or lunch at Beach Chalet. But if I plan ahead or feel ambitious, I’ll drive the hour down the coast along Hwy 1 to the Pigeon Point Lighthouse just south of Pescadero. It’s pristine setting is scenic at any time, but on a beautiful weekend, it can’t be beat. Continue reading Pigeon Point an ideal seaside getaway


Christmas in Norway in San Francisco

Hei og god jul. That would be Norwegian for ‘hello and Merry Christmas’, something you might hear if you stop by the Norwegian Holiday Fair at the Norwegian Seaman’s Church this Friday and Saturday (10-4). Can you say waffels! The annual fair is a kick-off of sorts to the holiday season, especially for the Bay Area’s large Norwegian population. It’s also a peek inside the world of one of the many ethnic groups in and around San Francisco.

Speaking of Christmas, wasn’t it invented in Norway? You’ll believe it when you see some of the white-haired Father Christmas look-a-likes in their hand-embroidered sweaters. There’s various Norwegian trinkets and food products to buy, as well as baked sweets and beverages from the cafe, and waffels!  And if Christmas isn’t your thing, Scrooge, it’s at least a chance to visit the church with the best view in the city. 2454 Hyde Street (between Francisco Street and Chestnut Street).

Finding a good bank/credit union in the Bay Area

Bank Transfer Day has come and gone (Nov. 5), but the movement to transfer money from big banks to smaller community banks and credit unions continues. But transferring an account can be a little bit of a challenge, especially for people who’ve banked for years at Wells Fargo, Chase or Bank of America and have no idea where to go. Rest assured though, the benefits are many: most credit unions require a minimal amount ($35-100) to open a new account, and don’t charge monthly fees on checking accounts and other transactions. Continue reading Finding a good bank/credit union in the Bay Area

Defining ‘Bay Area’

So what do you consider ‘Bay Area’? I’m never quite sure how far the border extends, what to include, what to leave out. It’s like neighborhoods in the city: where does the Upper Haight end and Cole Valley begin? Logically, I’d consider the Bay Area to be made up of suburban and metro areas. In the North Bay, that would mean it ends at Novato. The South Bay would end at San Jose. East Bay, the towns along the 680 like Danville and Walnut Creek. Continue reading Defining ‘Bay Area’

Bridge School Benefit an all-star affair

The Bridge School Benefit concert is this Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22 and 23, at Shoreline Amphitheater, and is one of the best music events around. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a better lineup at any of the Bay Area’s many festivals. Now in it’s 25th year, the annual concert was started and continues to be organized by Neil Young and his wife Pegi. She also helped found the school for children with severe physical and speech impairments.

The all acoustic concert this year features a lineup of:

  • Neil Young
  • Dave Matthews
  • Arcade Fire
  • Foo Fighters (Sunday only)
  • Eddie Vedder
  • Los Invisibles, featuring Carlos Santana, Cindy Blackman Santana & Guests
  • Beck
  • Mumford & Sons
  • Tony Bennett (Sunday only)
  • Devendra Banhart
  • Norah Jones with The Little Willies
  • Jimmy Fallon (MC Saturday only)

Good luck scoring tickets. For Saturday’s show, there were only a few single seat tickets left as of Tuesday.


Fleet Week followup: the Blue Angels flyover

The Blue Angels came to town recently for Fleet Wek, October 8-9, and I was fortunate to spend the weekend at the Fisherman’s Wharf Hyatt for the big event. They say the best seats for viewing the two-hour air show are on a boat on San Francisco bay, but boats aren’t allowed in the bay during the performance. Instead I settled for second best, watching from the fifth floor rooftop of the Hyatt, about two blocks from the water, with minimal obstructions. Continue reading Fleet Week followup: the Blue Angels flyover

Best wine bars of the Bay Area

If I get together with my friend in his crappy apartment kitchen, we drink beer. If I’m on another friend’s patio watching the sunset as the lights of the city come up, we drink wine. Beer is like a comfortable old sweatshirt that’s been washed a hundred times. Wine is like a velvet dinner jacket that fits you to a tee. Beer is your favorite football team on TV. Wine is a Monet exhibit at the museum.

This is a long way of saying that when judging wine bars, the setting can be just as important as the vintage on offer. Continue reading Best wine bars of the Bay Area

The Best of the Bay Area for travel, discovery and cultural exploration