A Tale of Three Cities: San Francisco

15:55:00


After taking a month off, I'm getting back in the blogging habit and I have amassed a shedload of topics to cover so brace yourselves for a torrent of posts in the coming week!

I haven't told you about my vacation yet and it's hard to believe it was a month ago. Just under 3 weeks hopping from coast to coast across America - I have never had a more enjoyable, interesting and invigorating holiday.

Touching down on a Monday evening, we checked into our hotel, changed & freshened up (necessary after a 12 hour flight from Dublin) and stepped out on to the steep streets of San Fran.

We headed down to the Embarcadero and port of San Francisco for dinner and a snoop around. Despite being a new, big city; it wasn't intimidating.

pier san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog
mine?
pier san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog
The clocktower at San Francisco port


 Waking early on Tuesday morning (stupid jet lag) pulling on Converse, jeans and my favourite ever tee, we set off to see the Alamo (however, we ended up in a different park) so we took a walk down Lombard Street, famous for being the crookedest street in the world. It's like Screwball Scramble set at a 45° angle.

lombard street san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog

lombard street san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog

lombard street san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog

One of my favourite book series is Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. A frank, funny and heart felt serial spanning from the 1970's to present. Set in San Francisco, it features the intertwined lives of a mixed bag of characters, centralised on the fictional Barbary Lane so naturally I had to visit Macondray Lane, believed to be the inspiration for the setting. I could definitely see myself living here, the communal atmosphere sums up the relaxed and bohemian vibe of San Francisco.

tales of the city san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog
the secluded, shaded and secretly special Macondray Lane

We had read the forecast to be mild, but the temperatures quickly climbed to the high 20°s so a stop-off in H&M for shorts  and we were back on the streets.
I considered myself quite the accomplished pedestrian but my faithful Converse let me down - their lack of insoles and support were not enough to cope with the long walks and steep inclines; the ensuing shin splints and blisters led me to Nordstrom Rack (their outlet store) and I picked up a pair of New Balance sneakers for under $50 and my feet have been grateful ever since. 
(I had a pair of bright blue and neon New Balance waaaay back when I was doing my a-levels and then the boys from Steps wore them - I thought I was such a trendsetter)

We headed to Alcatraz on Thursday, I had pre-booked the trip before I left home and I advise you to do the same if you ever visit as you cannot buy a ticket at the port for the same day of travel.

alcatraz san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog
panoramic view from alcatraz - a harsh reminder to inmates how close freedom was
alcatraz san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog

alcatraz san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog

alcatraz san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog
after closing, alcatraz was taken by native american protesters
alcatraz san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog

alcatraz san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog
home sweet home

I admit I am ignorant of the history of this infamous prison; other than seeing the Birdman movie and X-Men 3, I knew next to nothing about it. The quote "Break the rules and you go to prison. Break prison rules and you go to Alcatraz" is fitting as the remote rock was a bleak and intimidating prospect for any inmate.

alcatraz san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog
part of the photo installation, complete with guard silhouette
alcatraz san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog
not exactly luxurious, alcatraz was supposed to be the ultimate deterrent

I have a fascination with abandoned and derelict places (I'm dying to get inside North Street Arcade in Belfast) so seeing this prison reduced to a shell and many of the outbuildings being reclaimed by nature, was amazing.
alcatraz san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog
the former mess hall.
it's easy to forget alcatraz was home to the guards and their families as well as a prison

alcatraz san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog

alcatraz san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog

One of the most iconic landmarks of San Francisco has to be the Golden Gate Bridge. We spent a great afternoon here, braving the sharp winds and fog to walk along the footpath. Not a dander for those afraid of heights as the bustling crowds of tourists and locals, cyclists and heavy traffic travelling over the bridge can be a little overwhelming.
san francisco rogues brogues blog
the fog settles in over the bridge
rogues brogues menswear blog san francisco golden gate
postcard perfect
golden gate bridge san francisco rogues brogues blog
cables lost in the fog

I pulled on my t-shirt from Green Man, they kindly sent me this earlier in the year and I'd saved it for my trip!

green man rogues brogues menswear blog t-shirt san francisco
green man at golden gate

I got news on the Saturday that my grandmother had passed away. I considered returning home but my family assured me that it was not what she would have wanted. It was sad being away from my family during this time -  I was so glad Caelan was there for me; I couldn't have done it without him. 

That day we visited Golden Gate Park; my grandmother was a keen gardener and I know she would have loved to see this park.
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a lark in the park
rogues brogues menswear blog san fransisco
as agile as a jungle cat!
rogues brogues menswear blog san francisco
at the japanese tea garden, one of the many features of the park
rogues brogues san francisco menswear blog
new balance and water; essential San Fran kit!

We took a long walk along Haight Street, one of the famous hippy streets of San Francisco with an eclectic mix of trendy high street names, vintage shops, bars and "herbal" stores. We toasted Granny Gra with a stiff gin (I got ID'd - I'm 32 and haven't been ID'd since I was about 15!) and picked up a little sunburn on the way.
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a hearty hendricks salute to my granny gra

I had read up on the variety of vintage stores across San Fran and I had planned to visit Haight Street prior to my trip as it was home to Static Vintage, one of the best loved stores in the city! I even bumped into Irish fashionista Angela Scanlon filming a feature on vintage style! Static specialises in designer vintage pieces with pieces from Vuitton, Chanel and Gucci hanging from the walls.

static vintage menswear rogues and brogues blog san francisco
static vintage
rogues and brogues blog menswear san francisco vintage menswear
a collage of some of the overwhelming vintage pieces from the stores on haight street

Here's a little mash-up of random pictures just to make you a little more jealous...

grabbing a coffee at Blue Bottle on Linden Street - best coffee I've ever had!
another blue bottle coffee - don't miss out on the ginger molasses cookies!
a little urban sunshine
alcatraz flora
alamo painted ladies san francisco roges brogues menswear blog
the painted ladies - icons of San Francisco 
rogues brogues menswear blog
damn paparazzi!
love is love
abandoned subway off Castro
one of many (many) hearty breakfasts during the trip...

I am a little disappointed to say I don't have a haul to show from my time in San Francisco. We reasoned that we would have to carry all our purchases to another 2 cities so we deferred our buying to New York. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and we've had plenty of "I wish I had/I should have got" conversations since.
Oh well - all the more excuse for a return trip!

If you ever do visit San Francisco; check out Welcome Stranger - my favourite menswear boutique in the city (and I went to a lot!)
rogues brogues menswear blog san francisco


While I was there, I picked up some Jack Earl Co. beard oil - review post to follow!

Sorry New York, but you have been usurped. This mixed-up friendly city is now my favourite place on the planet!
san francisco rogues brogues menswear blog
i left my heart in san francisco
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