north beach

San Francisco is all about its neighborhoods. Much like Paris and its 20 different arrondissements, the neighborhoods here are so diverse, each with its own distinct culture and personality. Just going from one to another makes me feel like I am in a different country already.

Last Sunday, I listened to the traveler in me and attended the North Beach Festival. Also known as the city’s Little Italy, North Beach is one of the main reasons why I fell in love with San Francisco. I remembered my first visit here as a tourist, walking from Fisherman’s Wharf all the way to Columbus and Broadway Street to City Lights Bookstore and feeling so happy just being here. Now, a year later, I still feel the same.

Photo by saturdave

So what's makes it special? First of all, there's the neighborhood's rich Italian history. You know you're in North Beach when you see those red, white and green stripes that are present everywhere. There's also tons of family-owned restaurants, art galleries, jazz clubs, and sidewalk cafes - perfect for leisurely meals, people-watching, and some taste of la dolce vita.

Which brings me to the next reason why I love this neighborhood: coffee and dessert. North Beach is home to some of the best-tasting espresso and capuccino. And because I Iove eating dessert, I must say that I've never tasted soufflé as good as the one I've had at Café Jacqueline's. You can skip any other restaurant in North Beach, just don't skip this one. And now that I thought about, don't miss eating gelato at Naia too! They're heavenly.

Last but most certainly not the least, there is the Jack Keroauc factor. After reading On the Road, I knew that I just had to see the neighborhood where he used to live and where Beat literature had started. There's an alley in North Beach that's named after him and every time I come here, I always feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. For never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day I'd come to live in this city and yet there I was, standing in Jack Keroauc's little alley, thinking about his words and how they changed my life profoundly. I am indeed blessed.

Note: Click here for a slideshow of pictures that I took from the festival.


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