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  • Izhar Bar-Gad

San Francisco here we come

Being a pessimist is actually pretty rewarding, you get pleasantly surprised all the time: Our COVID tests all came back negative, the bureaucracy at the airport was reasonable and the flights, albeit looooooong (11 hours TLV to JFK + 6 hours JFK to SFO), were quiet and uneventful and we even managed to sleep well. However, one thing cast a dark shadow over our past behavior: typically, we make sure that our flights are well separated to avoid rushing between connecting flights and potentially missing them. This time the flights were only 90 minutes apart, which for an international connecting flight is a very short time. To our great surprise, as soon as we got out of the plane, we were handed an “express connection” voucher which served as a magical golden key to every possible queue, thus, moving us through immigration, customs, luggage transfer and security in about 10 minutes! Once again, irresponsible behavior is rewarded, but since we benefited this time, we can hardly complain.

San Francisco, our (almost) second home, greeted us with standard summertime weather (13 degrees and a partial fog) which was a slight change from the weather we left behind (34 degrees and not a cloud in sight). We found a nice little hotel (Infinity Hotel) with a welcoming roof top balcony observing the (foggy) Golden Gate Bridge. As it is Yoav’s first trip to the city we started by going through the tourist attractions, a horrible mistake, but luckily a short one. Pier 39 was crawling with tourists (appears like mostly American as there seem to be very few internationals tourists) and we escaped unhappily from it and vowed to avoid such places in the future. The only interesting experience near the pier was eating a fresh mango cut and seasoned with three types of very hot chili plus salt and lime. Shibolet and Yoav agreed that the expected outcome of being the only non-Mexican to try such a dish is immediate death but it was pretty good, and I survived to tell the story. After escaping the pier, we spent the rest of our time in the city walking around (average of 25,000 steps a day) and even running around (in the mornings as the jetlag hit us hard). Our strolls took us to interesting places: Shibolet bravely survived the nerdy comics shops (yes, we managed to find a copy of the first Groot comics), Yoda’s fountain, Academy of Sciences and even Musee Mecanique which is basically an eclectic collection of old, and sometimes ancient, mechanical and video games. In return we tested Yoav’s patience in the museum of modern art (SF-MOMA) which was, not surprisingly judging from our experience, exciting with the restoration of Diego Rivera’s mural and an excellent exhibition of the works of Nam June Paik. While. Yoav (the ADHD king) actually enjoyed the museum, however he did not survive the kale: we were joyfully tasting the wide variety of foods, Vietnamese, Mexican and hamburgers, until we finally tried HEALTHY food. We made our own salad on a basis of kale (about a ton of it) and super-duper healthy rice, Yoav immediately collapsed a has not been himself since.

Israelis are used to constant change; I think that it is a key property of such a young hectic nation. Compared to that, San Francisco is stable (yes, I know that compared to Europe it is a wild youngling), we could visit eateries (like Gordo Taqueria) and places (the carousal at the edge of the Golden Gate park), and barely anything has changed since we lived in the city almost twenty years ago. It has a certain comforting feeling.

Finally, we bid the city goodbye and drove away (in our brand-new, 9 miles on the pedometer, huge trunk, black Chevy Blazer), hoping to come back to it in roughly 55 days.

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