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This Birthday in History

Two weekends ago, scanner_darkly treated me to a stay at the Queen Anne and a ghost hunt. We originally tried to book a room at the Kabuki, but alas, welcoming tea and hot tubs were not available for us. Luckily enough, the Trusty Guide remembered the San Francisco Ghost Hunt began from the Queen Anne's lobby. The hotel itself had all the amenities of a Victorian-age building, defined as decor like the set of a Miss Marples mystery with complimentary tea and coffee (in styrofoam cups). It was a quaint, small city hotel, akin to a stuffy grandmother with a sweet tray.

We spent Saturday afternoon having charming strolls through Japantown for manga and letting me geek out in vast quantities over the totoro plushie display in Japan Video's opening, and the vaguely embarrassing geekery as I went into semi-autistic "Why I Don't Like Memoirs of a Geisha" mode inside. At Kinokuniya, I went into vast amounts of geekery again over the shelf of totoro plushies next to the counter. The Trusty Guide got me a copy of Yoshitaka Amano's N.Y. Salad, after I squealed over its vegetable fairies in an undignified manner. N.Y. Salad is relatively different from the usual run of pointy, wispy and vaguely sad Yoshitaka Amano peoples, and is less ornate besides. It's a whimsical picture book, filled with child-like curiosities, as Water Baby-like fairies unfurled from lettuces and cabbages, made friends and came out to play. I fancied there were far too many lettuces and cabbages - I sometimes felt the other vegetables were under-represented. My favourites were the garlic and onion fairies, the most muted and demure of them all.

Dinner was sashimi at Fuku-Sushi. This was another ad hoc decision. We'd originally planned to head elsewhere, but the place we wanted was closed for a private function. I noticed the photo of Keanu Reeves pinned to their bulletin board as we walked in. It was a small, intimate setting. We arrived there at around six, well before the dinner crowd. Service was prompt and discreet. My tea cup was always filled. I swiped a few sips of the Trusty Guide's tasty sake and vaguely regret not getting myself a cup. We both picked at the edamame, with the Trusty Guide giving me the lion's share. I hadn't had edamame in a while. I'm honestly not into eating giant piles of it, but a tiny tasteful bowl as a starter is addictive. The walls were covered in autographs from celebrities. We read the walls while the wait staff watched us. The katsuo and kanpachi were tender and flavourful. There was a hint of ginger and wasabi hidden in both that filled me with glee. The tobiko was crunchy and delightfully salty. The grilled eel made me monstrously happy - it was creamy and perfectly seasoned in the middle, and lightly crisp on the edges. We had crab croquette on the side, which was also very creamy with a crunchy yet tender coating of panko. I definitely regret not getting ikura - because I love that stuff to death. On the other hand, the food was good, asking for more is just greedy, and I likely will want to go back there at some point. The chef's selection we got apart from the individual orders was also good. We had a nice range of consistently good fish. I wasn't particularly into the snapper, but I've never been fond of raw snapper, and this snapper was good. It's a strongly-fishy fish regardless of the treatment it gets, and this was barely fishy. Someone who can make this fish taste clear and pure while raw (but still like snapper) deserves credit.

The ghost hunt was an interesting way to learn about the history of a portion of this city. It turned out the reason the tour starts in the Queen Anne is because the hotel was one of the haunted places on the list. We lived on the 4th floor, across the hall from the most haunted room in the hotel. If our room had been only one number up, it would've been the room in question. The walk was a pleasant night stroll, barring loud women and an excited child. The child was the hotel's ghost bait though, so that was....vaguely forgiveable. We didn't see any ghosts. It seemed two of the major spots the tour would've taken have now reverted to fully private properties no longer open to the public too, particularly the Mansions Hotel, which sounded like a blast. Even if it wasn't the site of a suspicious accident involving farming implements, I'd have liked to tour the gory wonder of a hotel themed after pigs. The current owners of the Mansions' building apparently don't take very kindly to the ghost tour. When we stopped in front of it for our guide's introduction, he mentioned that the owners have been known to report him to the police every so often. Nothing happened while we were there, but someone did run a blue light in a darkened bedroom on the second floor of the mansion while the guide spoke. Amused revelers made ghostly sounds at us from another second floor apartment further up the road.

In spite of the complete lack of scariness on the tour, neither of us got much sleep that night. It didn't help the mattress we got was the texture of a granite slab. Imagine two horror writers being vaguely worried enough that we'd want to stay in the centre of our bed, under the covers, and preferably within striking distance of each other. The Trusty Guide simply had a late cup of coffee he shouldn't have had. I, on the other hand, am a fairly hopeless wimp who didn't want to contend with opening my eyes in the very dark room or be caught walking around in it until daylight. And no, nothing ghostly happened that night. We both tossed and turned enough to tell the difference.

I enjoyed the company of the Trusty Guide. Even more important than my birthday, it was a good to see him relax and enjoy himself. I appreciated the chance to explore this city, which I have come to think of very dearly. I'm pretty certain at this point I'd like to make myself a more permanent fixture of our little corner of San Francisco. There's still so much food I haven't nibbled at for edibility, and someone did mention on this tour the city also had a suitably interesting vampire walk...

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
ladyeuthanasia
Oct. 22nd, 2008 01:48 am (UTC)

Fantastic! Happy Belated Birthday! :D

Also: how long are you here? Here meaning in San Francisco or some portion of California?
vampyrichamster
Oct. 22nd, 2008 02:10 am (UTC)
Thank you! :)

I'll be in California, or some portion of San Francisco, until the first week of December.
countlibras
Oct. 22nd, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
That sounds like such a splendid birthday. *nods*
vampyrichamster
Oct. 22nd, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
It was, very much. *nods* And as I mentioned before, your sushi card was remarkably uncanny! I did go into my birthday dreaming of sushi. :)
morbidloren
Oct. 22nd, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
If you do the vampire tour, I'd love to join you.
vampyrichamster
Oct. 22nd, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
I've found the site for the vampire tour, but it seems quite...dubious?
morbidloren
Oct. 23rd, 2008 01:56 pm (UTC)
That's the reason I haven't gone yet. It might be fun in a group, but sort of embarrassing on my own.

There are also ghost tours of the Haight and Chinatown, which interest me. Maybe we could work something out for one of those?
vampyrichamster
Oct. 23rd, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
I'd love to try one of the other ghost hunts. Incidentally, I checked out the site for the Haight ghost hunt a while back. The tour itself sounds very profesionally run and friendly, but the paranormal association the guide is associated with has spelling errors all over the site. Still, I am interested in checking this out.

I didn't know there was a Chinatown ghost walk till you mentioned it, and found the site for that too! It's about $4 more than either the Haight or the one I attended, and seems a lot shorter. I have a personal preference for ghost walks run by or associated with people from paranormal research societies, which the Haight/SF Ghost Hunt both had - but hey, Chinatown! I've never been out there. My only other suspicion about this Chinatown tour is that it has associated tours called "Feng Shui" and "Fortune Cookie". But that's me nitpicking. ;)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )