I go down to the Silicon Valley area all the time for day meetings, but I haven't actually been up to San Francisco for years. Monday's IE7 beta 2 dinner in The City was a bit of a rediscovery for me. I only had a little while between having lunch with my aunt and 91-year old grandmother and our dinner, but it was great.
First, the shopping was amazing. It left Seattle in the dirt. In the area around Union Square, I visited the Sak's Men's Store and the Macy's Men's Store (yes, separate stores/buildings for the men's stuff, not just a little department, a big Kenneth Cole, and Diesel just to name a few. It was crazy.
Next, there are a lot of places that are much more swish than I recall. I stayed at the St. Francis Hotel (now a Westin). I used to come here on dates for drinks and the ride the elevators (great view of the Bay at the top, put your head against the glass and look down while you're descending -- freaky) and for drinks in the lobby bar. It used to be charming in an old shabby way. Very slick now and the rooms are nicely redone too.
I also went for a drink at the Clift Hotel. Michelle and I stayed here years ago when it was a a slightly run down Four Seasons; now it's an uber swish Ian Schrager hotel. The bar, the Redwood Room, was hopping even on a Monday night. They had these interesting Harry Potter-esque "portraits" on the walls -- really plasma displays with movies of people that move slowly; there is apparently a back story between the people in the images, so if you watch long enough, you can start to see the furtive looks, the disappointment, the lust, etc. between people in the images. It was fun to try to figure out the story.
Finally, I had breakfast with my dear friend Connie at the Campton Place Hotel, another luxury boutique hotel that makes me want to come back to San Francisco. (Spending time catching up with Connie reminded me that while I love my current friends, there's something special about friends you've known for twenty years like Connie. She, of course, also makes me want to come back to San Francisco.)
Of course, it's not perfect. It was crowded and traffic-jammed. It took me forever to drive to see my grandmother. The infrastructure (roads and bridges mainly) seemed in disrepair. It's even more expensive than Seattle. And, they're going to be wiped off the face of the earth in the next thirty years.
Still, I had forgotten how much I love SF (like I had forgotten how much I love Stanford.) I can't wait to go back soon. There are a bunch of old favorite places I want to check out again like Bix (one of my favorite restaurant/bars in the world) and the Pied Piper Bar at the Palace Hotel (I "discovered" Bob Dalpe, the singer and bandleader who played at our wedding, at the Pied Piper) to name a few.