The weekend is more fun when there are things to do. In San Francisco there is never a day with little to do or see, and this past weekend was no exception with the North Beach Music Festival. A couple of friends and I were intrigued by the promise of good food and live music. Roped off like a street fair and marked with banners and signs this was the place to be and because it was sunny and warm more people decided to spend their day here.
North Beach is the real center of San Francisco, more of a downtown than the actual downtown. Sitting at the foot of Coight Tower and bordering Chinatown, it makes up the northeastern chunk of this city and feels international. Here you can be walking in the Far East admiring mysterious red colored windows and smoky air fleeing a place known for Dim Sum and then in another minute you have somehow flown to Florence or Sicily and see nothing but fine wine, Carpaccio, and olive oil lining the sidewalks. Just a ten-minute walk from the Financial District and the transportation hub of the Embarcadero, you should always walk and never take the bus here unless you deeply enjoy rubbing bodies with little old Asian ladies because the buses are unbelievably packed.
We walked. Strolling slightly uphill, you pass important looking buildings and then you enter North Beach and start seeing café tables dot the side streets and people smiling. You are almost there. You pass through streets with White, Green, Red flags and cafes and then you have crossed through Little Italy and have made it.
When we arrived the festival was loud and packed with faces and the sun was bright. Making our way step by step through the crowds, we slowly scanned the street vendors and food stands. From above, the many colors and bodies slowly moving in passing directions must have looked like a giant caterpillar. Food stands of all sorts were set up in the middle of the roads while traffic was directed far away.
There was every type of food imaginable, all readily available. The size of lines seemed to directly relate to the type of food being offered. Brick oven pizza had a line down the block. Vegan mush in a bowl also had a line down the block (remember this is San Francisco).
The focus of this festival was the food and trinkets being sold but all around were tents and fenced off alleyways blaring live music and serving large beers. We picked Blues music, lulled by the juicy guitar riffs and a Stevie Ray Vaughn cover.
The rest of the afternoon was spent listening to music, sipping beer, and admiring how nice the sun felt on our backs. It became clear that hundreds of others felt exactly the same. By the time we tried to leave it was almost impossible to wiggle free because of the crowds.