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26th November 2011

A Stroll in Oriental Gardens and a Session with Venetian Artists

Pagoda in the Japanese Gardens
    Daybreak brought with it beckoning bright blue skies, so we headed to the Golden Gate Park. The streetcar we took was standing room only, with plenty of banter taking place. The passengers always looked out for each other, and on the occasions when the rear door wouldn't open, they all echoed up to the driver the fact that it wasn't open; a friendly, public-spirited bunch these San Franciscans.
    We hopped off when we reached the appropriate place along this long five miles plus park, and strolled to the Japanese Tea Gardens. The colours of the foliage were spectacular at this time of year; a pleasure to behold. After a pleasant stroll around the gardens, almost always in touching distance of Japanese visitors, we sat down outside the Japanese tea-house and enjoyed Jasmine tea and Mochi cakes in the sunshine.
    Fully restored, we headed to the de Young Museum for another dose of art. I had visited the museum to take in an exhibition on The Birth of Impressionism last year, and had totally enjoyed it. With a different exhibition on this year, it was a must to drag Marcia along to see it. The current exhibition was The Masters of Venice, Renaissance painters of passion and power. 50 paintings were featured by the 16th-century Venetian artists: Titian, Giorgione, Veronese, Tintoretto and Mantegna.
    These were bright, bold, powerful paintings. The vivid colours simply washed over me. I was amazed at how well the colours had held out since many of the paintings were completed in the first half of the 16th-century, yet the use of oil as a medium was only being developed at the beginning of that century.
    Once we had had our fill of Venetian art, we made our way back to the foyer to decide which of the many halls to visit next. Our route took us past a wall of glass, through which a narrow strip of a garden could be seen before a corresponding wall of glass in the next hall. The garden was only 3m wide, but was in constant shade because of the high walls surrounding it. The only vegetation in the garden was moss carpeting a bed of slate like stones, plus a collection of very large ferns, the bases of which being of tree trunk proportions. The whole scene looked almost prehistoric. Marcia was captivated by the ferns, and was keen to find out more about them. She approached one of the museum assistants to ask what type of fern they were. "Sorry," the assistant didn't know. She asked another, who was sorry as well. Five assistants later, we ended up at the desk a man who was meant to be the font of all wisdom. He had the same looks and humour as Billy Connolly, and he wore a jacket that looked as though it had been borrowed from Tonto, side-kick of the Lone Ranger. It turned out it had belonged to his grandfather (perhaps Tonto) who had belonged to one of the Indian tribes. We chatted for a while, and when he learned of my trip to New Zealand, this big fellow went off on a tangent about the All Blacks, and proceeded to tell me about his stint as a quarter-back in an American football team. After a fairly amusing conversation, we discovered that he hadn't a clue about the ferns either. In the end I took a couple of photos of the ferns for Marcia to show to one of her botanist friends.
Another View of the Japanese Gardens
    We soon found out that time was against us, the museum closed at 16:30. We only had time left to visit the viewing gallery at the top of one of the buildings. This afforded a splendid 360� panoramic view of the suburbs surrounding Golden Gate Park. I had seen it before, but for Marcia, well she was just spellbound.
    Darkness had fallen by the time we returned to Pier 39 for a delicious meal of clam chowder with sour-dough bread, followed by crab cakes. We rounded off the day with Irish coffees, the renowned popular drink at the well-known Buena Vista, before getting a cable car from Hyde across to Union Square. All in all we had experienced a most enjoyable day.
Views Down Market at Night

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Uploaded from Adante Hotel, San Francisco on 28th November at 20:50

Last updated 29.11.2011