Saturday in Sausalito

I first visited California about five years ago on a music trip and two thoughts have remained with me:

  • how much I preferred San Francisco to Los Angeles
  • the lights on the hills crossing the Golden Gate on our way to Sausalito

Ever since, I’ve avoided Los Angeles and vowed to explore those Sausalito hills. Today would be that day!

I started out at the Asian Heritage Festival taking place nearby in Civic Center. Things were just getting going but I picked up a t-shirt, had a coconut waffle and tried some Kona coffee (none of which having much to do with Asia) before daring to try Dottie’s True Blue café. Overhearing a member of the middle portion of the queue tell his mobile phone that “yeah, we’ve been queuing here for an hour and a half now; but, you know, it’s kind of a famous place”, I started to look further. 45 minutes of wandering the Tenderloin later (as close to the streets of “The Wire” as I’m likely to find on this trip and a bigger contrast with the streets of Zurich would be hard to imagine), I settled on a guidebook-recommended Indian and Pakistani eatery called Shalimar (embarrassingly enough, as it turned out, right next door to Dottie’s).

The weather has been terrible on this trip so I didn’t venture out with any plans for a day trip but, by now, the sky was clearing up so I decided maybe it was worth heading out to Sausalito after all. Rough plan was to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, take the bus to Sausalito, wander about for a bit then take the ferry home. Approaching the bridge, this plan seemed a little optimistic: the sky turned grey again; fog appeared: the bridge walk was cold, foggy and blustery. Atmospheric, certainly, and definitely worth seeing the fog billowing in from the sea…but not something I’ll be doing again soon.

Stepping off the bridge…sunshine. Talk about micro-climates! Like a character from a Beckett play, I wait a while for the #10 bus to come before (unlike a character from a Beckett play) starting to walk. It’s just a couple of miles to Sausalito and I’m in the town at least half an hour before I spot the bus sailing past.

Sausalito turns out to more or less as expected: a small town on the bay with a single main street (Bridgeway) hugging the water and lined with upmarket shops and restaurants. Nothing remarkable except for the location which altogether makes it a very pleasant place to while away an afternoon. The weather was warm and sunny, with the fog rolling over the hills making for some impressive pictures.

Bridgeway offers some wine shops offering, in turn, wine tastings. The assistant at the first turned out to have Swiss parents and to have visited Zurich several times down the years; the second – Bacchus and Venus – is less chatty but offers particularly generous portions (that they also inexplicably have a branch in Truckee, Nevada, is worth mentioning because it’s so bizarre and a rare opportunity to use the word “Truckee”); I sampled four reds before staggering back onto the street. A little later, I grab a quick delicious flame-grilled burger at Hamburgers Sausahlito (“where the customer is rarely right”) before hopping on the 6.30 ferry back to the city through the mist, Golden Gate nowhere in sight.