On Thursday and Friday of this past week, I took a business trip to San Francisco, and stayed at the Guest Quarters hotel across the street from the Embarcadero. Although I've been to San Francisco several times since I moved away from there in 1990, this was the first trip to the Embarcadero area I'd made since I lived there. The biggest change is that local cafes are difficult to find; instead, the area sported the most concentrated swarm of Starbucks stores I've ever seen. There was a Starbucks attached to my hotel; another a few steps away; and one on practically every street. At one point, I saw two directly across the street from each other. And amazingly, on Friday morning every Starbucks I saw was stuffed with customers.
I saw one Peets Coffee (a native chain of SF), and one Tully's Coffee; but if independent coffee shops were around, I didn't see them.
On Thursday night, I walked through the Embarcadero Center (which was completely deserted) and went to the Hyatt Regency, near the Ferry Building. I visited the 13 Views lounge on the third floor for a cocktail and a small sourdough bowl of clam chowder (it was San Francisco, after all). The Regency is absolutely stunning inside: the lounge is located in a 27-story atrium, in which the straight-line ledges above converge at an off-center point, creating a vertiginous feeling. It's all combined with a giant see-through metal sculpture of the Hyatt Logo. It looks like quite the place to take a date after an evening at the Embarcadero cinema.
On Friday, the sky was robin's-egg blue; and the 60-something-degree weather was warmer than LA -- which, when I landed Friday afternoon, was as foggy and grey as the weather usually was in San Francisco when I lived there. Why is the weather always gorgeous in SF when I visit there?