Our last day and the Giants‘ first in San Francisco for this year was greeted once more by clear blue skies and surprising sunshine. With not having to leave the city for the airport until around 3pm we had considered going to AT & T Park to see the raising of the World Series pennant and possibly even catching an innings or two from the free spot below Levi’s Landing. But we decided against this for a variety of reasons, including potential problems with parking and the likely size of the crowd around the park. As it happened, we saw a good deal of the game, including the winning hit, from various locations during the afternoon, so felt that we had been part of the historic event.
We vacated the apartment a little before 10.30am after Janet had virtually done the cleaner’s job for him/her. We headed for Ocean Beach where we took a short stroll before sitting down to drink in the view one last time. Having already had breakfast before we left we resisted the temptation to eat at the Cliff House, using the time to drive over to Golden Gate Park to visit the Japanese Tea Garden which was less busy than it had been on our previous visit on Sunday.
Twee though it may be we have always liked the Japanese Tea Garden, and we were surprised to see that it had had a makeover since the same time last year. Not only had the cafe area been extended physically, but the menu had expanded from the traditional teas and snacks that were ordered at the cash register to table service of more substantial fare. Mindful that we planned to eat a large meal at the airport we decided to take advantage of the new set up and ordered sushi and Japanese tea sandwiches, both of which were delicious. This was washed down by Sen-Cha and Jasmine tea. The shop had also been upgraded from the previous incarnation which sold traditional tourist gifts to an outlet purveying crafts and more up market items.
After an accidentally convoluted journey we parked up in Haight-Ashbury with around an hour and a half before we needed to set off for the airport. Although we sauntered up and down Haight Street the only purchase we made was when I added two more to my growing library of books on San Francisco at The Booksmith.
In need of a drink we found a great spot in Martin Mack’s bar where we watched the first three innings of the Giants game against the St Louis Cardinals over a beer, when they turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead by the time we left, courtesy in no small part of Miguel Tejada‘s homer in his first ever at-bat as a Giant at AT & T Park.
We left for the airport at 3pm, enabling us, after another unintended detour that found us momentarily heading back into the city rather than the car rental return, to drop our bags off (we had already checked in online on the previous day) a full three hours before our flight time. We settled, as tradition demanded, into the Firewood Grill, where I had a mahi mahi panini and Janet had chicken skewers, both with fries, with a couple of large glasses of wine. The baseball was now in the ninth innings and Brian Wilson was attempting to finish the game only to concede a tying and leading run for the Cardinals. Fortunately, the Giants tied it again, taking it into a 10th, 11th and 12th innings before we could not stay in the bar any longer.
As we proceeded to our gate I was fearful that we would leave San Francisco without knowing the outcome of the game. But the baseball gods were smiling on me – as I went for a last call of nature before being called for the flight I passed a TV set just as Aaron Rowand made the hit to secure the winning run for the Giants, provoking a mighty roar from the assembled throng in the bar in question.
And one final bitter sweet moment – once in the air we flew directly over the city, allowing great views of the “bracelet of bridges”, downtown and Twin Peaks.
The rest is silence.