Subject: Re: San Francisco
Hi Amelia,

If you've never been to the Camera Obscura out by the Cliffhouse it's a must see. But, alas, it appears to be in renovation. See the website at: Maybe next visit.

A cool little shop down by Union Square is Kar'ikter (418 Sutter St.) for all things relating to Tintin. A great shop for buying gifts for children or childish adults. In the same area is a Sur la Table cooking store located at 77 Maiden Lane, which is a small alley between Post and Geary. I find it to have a larger selection than your standard Williams-Sonoma. Also at 140 Maiden Lane is a Frank Lloyd Wright designed building that houses an gallery of Eastern Art. The spiral staircase was the prototype for the one at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

In Chinatown there is the obligatory stop at the Fortune Cookie Factory on Ross Alley. We buy a bag of the flat blanks (no fortune inside) just to have as munchies. Another favorite is the Tien Hou Temple on the 4th floor at 125 Waverly Street. Climb up the stairs, enter the sanctuary, marvel at the carvings, breathe deep of the joss sticks and enjoy some friendly conversation with the ladies at work in the temple. And a must stop for Sara and I is the Chinese Kite Shop at 711 Grant. We always have a giant carp kite waving from the gable peak of our house. Simply cannot enter the house without being reminded of fun times in San Francisco. See more at:

Up in North beach stop in at Rose Pistola's on Columbus. Have a glass of sangiovese or grappa at the bar. Say hi to Stephen, the bar manager, an old friend of mine. Try the farinata, a thin chickpea flour fried bread. Yum-yum! Across the street at 503 Columbus St. is Mara's Italian Pastry. If you don't stop in and fill up you'll really disappoint me, Amelia.

In addition to the interesting W.P.A. era murals decorating the walls of the Coit Tower there is a huge flock of wild parrots living in the trees on Telegraph Hill. I'm talking about one of the largest flocks of wild parrots in the U.S. A little bit of the Amazon in Northern California.

As for dining, in addition to the wonderful and high-end restaurants already mentioned (Gary Danko, Boulevard, and Aqua) try Yank Sing's in the Financial District (427 Battery St) for dim sum. Stop in at Kuleto's off Union Square, don't wait for a table, instead be forceful and grab two seats at the bar where you can get served much quicker than waiting for a seat in the dining room. For Mexican head to the Mission District for some decent taquerias. Although, I must say Amelia, why go to San Francisco from Los Angeles for Mexican food ?

I'm done for now. Have a good time (as if one could do otherwise in San Francisco).

John in San Diego