A Stranger in a Sausalito Coffee Shop
Today marks the day of my one week San Francisco and American anniversary. I arrived as a complete novice to America the culture of San Fran on the 4th of July where I stepped off the train to the district they call the Tenderloin. I was anxiously hustling to find my Hostel after the suited man selling jesus pamphlets in the train station warned me that in the Tenderloin “you don’t look at nobody, you don’t speak to nobody and you certainly don’t stop for nobody”. His advice was discouraging to say the least but after almost a week in San Francisco I can say that all though there was some merit to his words, I now feel like a downtown local, I know the places where I am most comfortable and I know the people who I should steer clear of and those words aren’t so discouraging anymore. I have checked many things off of my San Fran list of desirable activities and I am excited to say I still have many to go. This laid back city can be deceptive as when I think I have seen all there is to see, another desire gets added to the wish list.
Today I set off for Fisherman’s Wharf, the lively and most tourist laden area of San Francisco. The Fisherman’s Wharf area is where the ferries come and go and street acts and tourist attracting restaurants are a dime a dozen. Although the commercial aspect of this area is a bit too much for me, it is a good place to start for a bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge. I rented my bike complete with lock and helmet (yes Dad I did wear my helmet!) and launched myself in to a sea of tourist bike riders completely unaware of their surroundings and proper bicycle etiquette. I struggled for the first mile through hoards of frustrating tourists who either stopped directly in front of me up the hills, swerved in to me as I passed on the passing lane or just blocked 3 lanes of cycle traffic to change their seat heights. Once on the bridge my freedom was still restricted with the congestion of both pedestrians and cyclists trying to get their best selfie angles in front of what I would describe as a breath-taking display of city skyline meeting a freshly lain blanket of blue ocean. The views from the bridge make the 9 km journey through winding and static tourist traffic well worth it, and once you’re on the other side it’s only a short 1.6 kms to the petite and picturesque town of Sausalito.
I rode through downtown Sausalito to be greeted once again by hoards of wandering tourists. Small town Sausalito gains a tourist reputation by being practically at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. I found the town to be too crowded to really appreciate the local art galleries and restaurants but sitting by the wharf was a quieter and more relaxing treat. I decided to venture off on my bike a little further through Sausalito to try and find a more isolated spot to enjoy a much needed coffee. Just a few minutes away from the hustle downtown I came across Philz Coffee with an A4 sized black board on the front door as the only signage signaling that the brew of life was made there. I ordered from their custom blends of filter coffee, surprisingly delicious (I’m not usually a fan of filtered), mine was a blend with chocolate, cinnamon and nutty notes with a splash of cream. Not my usual favorite latte but a definite close second in taste.
I chose a book of poems from the cafe book shelf and sat on a leather couch opposite a man with pencils. I smiled at him as he took out a sketch pad and I wanted to ask what he was drawing. Smothering my curiosity I refrained from prying as he seemed deep in concentration. I sat with my hot filtered brew and listened to his pencils scratch the surface of the paper, almost mesmerizing me as I attempted to look like I was reading poetry. All of a sudden the scratching ceased and he reached over to me to thank me. Confused, I questioned him as I was sure I hadn’t been of particular use to anybody today. He handed me his sketch and as I looked in to a much more attractive version of myself captured through his pencil, I was astonished, impressed and grateful to this stranger. He told me to keep it, he does them all the time “just for practice” and must return to his real life as a financial advisor. Joseph was his name and sharing his artistic gifts with strangers is his passion. I pressed the portrait between two tourist magazines and coveted it all the way home. My new portrait from a stranger is something I will remember fondly about my time in San Francisco and I hope Joseph knows his talents are appreciated, maybe one day he won’t be known just as a financial advisor but as a creative genius too. ¡Viva kind gestures from artistic strangers!
TAKE A LOOK: I will be uploading my San Francisco pages on food, coffee and experiences so check it out (: