San Francisco, California
February 25, 2002
If you only have time for part of one walk, don't miss the section of Filbert between Montgomery and Samsone. This is the reknown "Filbert Street Staircase," which is a cascade of wooden steps down a lush garden of flowering trees and shrubs, bordered by charming 19th century cottages and open to a view of Treasure Island and the East Bay. On Saturdays, you will run into locals returning from the Farmers Market (Embarcadero & Union) and the occasional landscape painter. Peer down Napier and Darell Lanes, often mistakenly depicted as streets in city maps. I promise you no car has ever sped over these narrow planked alleys. If you are lucky you will catch a glimpse or hear the racous calls of local flock of wild parrots that divides its time between this hill, North Beach and Russian Hill.
At the bottom of the hill, you will end up on the charming campus of Levi-Strauss, considered one of the prime places to work. There's a great restaurant onsite, Il Fornaio. If it's not a chilly day, walk through (yes, through) the labyrinth of the courtyard fountain. It will delight all children... as well as your inner child.
To get back to North Beach, either retrace your steps, go back up the Greenwich steps or, for those with burned-out thighs, take a detour to much-flatter Broadway. I recommend resting and refueling at one of the many cafe's along Columbus, between Broadway and Union. Caffe Greco (see entry) is my personal favorite.
From journal Stairways to Heaven