Golden as we'll ever be

The next day we woke up a little before noon and were surprised to be greeted by glorious sunshine. Sure, pavements still had puddles on them, glass windows were covered by rain droplets, and people carried their umbrellas the way they do handbags—but the morning drizzle had stopped thus sparing us from having a groggy time. I was more than thankful for that. If the lovely weather was any indication of how great the rest of our day would pan out, then I was looking forward to it. Already a step ahead, I had finished packing before I went to bed the night before and got ready as fast as I could the morning of.

After checking out, we dashed out of the hotel and towards the nearest station so we could catch the cable car that would take us straight to our next destination. I felt giddy riding a cable car for the first time and was generally pleased (with an obvious tinge of disappointment) that there was no soon-to-be Princess Mia of Genovia, her classy and sophisticated grandmother, and her apparently still broken baby of a car to cause any trouble. We were already growing hungry and we couldn't stay for a mini-knighting ceremony. I don't know how but San Fo got even more charming when viewed from a cable car.

The rainbow flags hanging down posts and the loud-colored establishment signs make Castro so hard to miss. We grabbed brunch at this quirky diner called Orphan Andy's. Owned by an adorable gay couple in their sixties and who address customers as "darlings," the restaurant serves your all-time favorite breakfast meals and then some. While us girls had our fill of pancakes, french toasts, sausages, eggs, and bacon, Em loaded up for our walkathon around the city with a huge burger and onion rings. Coincidentally, Karsie brought along her rainbow umbrella, "I wanted something colorful." Perhaps to counter the perpetually gloomy weather. Nonetheless, that was a joy to see and photograph!

We treaded on San Francisco's unforgiving hills to get to Dolores Park, supposedly burning a couple of calories along the way. As we walked further uphill, we caught a glimpse of the city which took my breath away. Once again, we were, quite literally, "stand[ing] on a hill," as our school song would put it. We released our inner child at the playground, taking our turns at swings and slides. Due to its strategic location, the park is a sort of communal yard for several neighborhoods and is said to be always swamped with people on weekends. In spite of that, we were lucky to have the area all to ourselves for an hour or so. As I glided down the giant slide, I can't help but sing to myself, "Down to the world go I," with imaginary hand-thumping in the air. Later we found out where everyone else were: hanging out and having late lunch at restaurants along 18th Street. We joined the queue at Bi-Rite Creamery and cooled ourselves with scoops of home-made ice cream.

With no plain wall, fence, or garage door in sight, Clarion Alley just had to steal the spotlight that afternoon. As we walked through the pathway, we found ourselves gazing at every work, admiring how everything was bursting with color and artistry. Obviously we took it upon ourselves to have a fun photoshoot while in the area. While passing through from one end to another, we stopped at every interesting wall/fence/garage door (Believe me, there were a lot!) and strike whatever pose we could think of. That "Home" fence and "Doing The Things I Love" wall tugs our hearts a little and speaks volumes.

Going through 16th Street, what with Roxie Theater and its diverse stores and restaurants, was a bit overwhelming. In broad daylight all these establishments seem at war, having difficulty catching the attention of possible customers. Either I wasn't too interested or I was just saving what's left of my battery (which soon proved to be a good idea!), I didn't bother taking photos for quite some time. As our walkathon continued, we entered a few shops where we perused racks of vintage clothing and shelves of old books. Eventually we made our way back to the residential area, passing by the Mission Dolores Basilica, to wait for our ride.

As we approached Union Square Park, I caught a familiar face in the crowd: Filipino actor Coco Martin. Folks, especially my relatives, back at home know him as Walang Hanggan's Daniel, the lovechild of the Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta's characters. Having a photo taken with him had become a priority so I mustered every ounce of courage that I had to talk to him. I was already so excited to show off our photo to my aunts who are probably his biggest fans. After our obligatory photo with the giant Christmas tree at the heart of the park and a quick stroll around, we rested at the benches for a while before hearing mass at nearby St. Patrick Church.

Finally our weekend getaway had come to a close. We bid each other goodbyes and hoped that some time in the future we cross paths once more. Later Lianne and I took the express train back to San Jose and from the station she and her parents drove me to Tita Lalee's apartment. I couldn't thank Lianne, Karsie, and Em enough for having me over. I wish them, along with Kevin, Anton, and Christine, all the best in their future—be it in military trainings, further studies, or employment opportunities.

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