On the Run In the City By the Bay

With just eight hours to spend in one of the country’s most beautiful cities en route to my final destination, I mapped out a jam-packed San Francisco itinerary. While checking in to the conveniently located Argent Hotel, I glanced around the public areas at the outstanding art collection including some by David Hockney and Roy Lichtenstein before hopping on a cable car headed for Fisherman’s Wharf.

I had not been there in years and much remained the same although there were several new additions. Walking along the waterfront, I stopped in to browse some very interesting shops, delighted to discover that all were not souvenir stores. One, in particular housed museum quality jade pieces tucked away in a private back room.

After hours of driving in the car, the walk along the bay proved to be just the right thing. I ambled down to the Embarcadero, ending up at the new marketplace in the old Ferry Building featuring every kind of gourmet delight imaginable. The huge Farmers Market had taken place a few hours earlier and I was sorry to have missed it. The last time I had been in San Francisco, I spent several hours browsing and eating and people watching at the Farmers’ Market in the shadow of the Oakland Bay Bridge. It was a happening, not just a place to buy produce.

Jumping on a trolley, to maximize time, I headed back to my hotel and up to my spacious and beautifully appointed room on the 28th floor which featured floor to ceiling windows. I enjoyed a view of the San Francisco skyline with Alcatraz in the distance backed by the edge of scenic Marin County while dressing for my nighttime excursion.

The hotel’s lounge and restaurant looked appealing and on my next trip, I plan to spend an evening there, but I was in the mood for a stroll through Chinatown and some good eastern cuisine. The hotel’s concierge highly recommended Great Eastern and I was glad I took his advice. Shopping in Chinatown is always fun and bargains are everywhere, so I made some purchases en route to the restaurant. Great Eastern was brightly lit and crowded and the food looked authentic and delicious. I was seated next to the huge fish tank and watched a variety of soon to be eaten seafood swimming about. The food tasted as good as it looked.

After dinner, I strolled over to North Beach in time to stand in line for entrance into the Club Fugazi at 678 Beach Blanket Babylon Blvd. to view Steve Silver’s unique Beach Blanket Babylon. The show is celebrating its 30th year and has even had a street named after it. Although I have heard raves about BBB for years, this was my first opportunity to catch the show.

The theme has remained the same for three decades, but with scenes and characters changing to keep up with the times. The basic story line is Snow White on her quest for true love, taking her all over the world and meeting up with big-haired celebrity caricatures, both past and present. The dialog is witty, irreverent and outrageous.

The talented ensemble parody celebrities including Elvis, Oprah Winfrey, George W. Bush, Tina Turner, Bill Clinton, King Louis, the Village People and Carman Miranda as they sing and dance their way around the globe crossing paths with shy Snow White. They almost all have big hair, and I do mean big, often sporting Las Vegas style headdresses and outrageous costumes. Beach Blanket Babylon, the longest running musical revue in US theater history, offered a truly unique and hilarious evening of entertainment.

I headed back to the Argent with a big smile on my face, looking forward to a restful night under the feather comforter, dreaming of jade, the San Francisco Bay, good food and extraordinary entertainment during my whirlwind visit to the city by the bay.

For information:

The Argent Hotel offers several packages including the new Golden Getaway Package for seniors, 55+ through December 31, 2004 which includes a king room, two tickets for a ½ day comprehensive sightseeing tour and 15% off for one meal at the hotel’s Jester Restaurant. Cost: $159 per night.
50 Third Street (at Market)
San Francisco, CA 94103

Beach Blanket Babylon
678 Green Street (Beach Blanket Babylon Blvd.)
San Francisco, CA 94133