First there are the rolling hills and the broad streets lined by two or three-storey houses. I buy a paper from the newspaper agent on the corner of a street and continue on. It's almost evening: I descend the hill into Columbus Avenue and take a small detour to look at St Peter and Paul's Church, on the other side of a green park.
Columbus Avenue continues down past City Lights bookshop. In the window I notice for a first time a broad poster of a picture from the 1950s, of all the Beat poets slouched around the then-new bookstore. Around the corner from City Lights is Grant Street and Chinatown. I walk down past the two-dollar stores and a newspaper agent selling the San Francisco Chronicle and several Chinese-language newspapers. He's leaning forward on the bench, bored. The streets of Chinatown are crowded with parents and their children in strollers, daggy youths from the Chinese cocktail shops, and touristy folks like myself. As I get further down the hill and look down the intersecting streets towards the Bay, I can see the Golden Gate bridge.
There's a sound of loud drums in the distance, just like there had been last night when I walked through Chinatown. I assume it's coming from one of the side streets, but as I get closer and closer I realise it's from a bunch of kids from a local Kung Fu school in yellow t-shirts. They've got two Chinese dragon suits out and are dancing around in the streets; there are crowds out and people are taking photographs. Then after two minutes the dance stops, the music ends, a car honks, and the crowds part; I dash quickly across the street and continue on. Past the tourist stores selling postcards, fake snakes, joke dollar bills, into the last block of Chinatown, bearing ridiculously antique-looking antiques; on the left-hand side of the street is a store packed with golden chandeliers. The last store I see before I go through the gates to San Francisco Chinatown is a 'disposable camera' store.
The evening has drawn in; and there's a small, slight spray of rain on my face as I hurry past the impossibly rich galleries with paintings by Chagall and Picasso and turn by the saxophone player on Sutton Street. There's four blocks and several galleries to go before I get back to the hostel...
Tim, your links stink, you fink!
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