Why do you return to Dublin so often?” people ask.
A few years ago, I won a playwriting prize that came with a nice check. I said to my wife, “Let’s take a trip.” I hadn’t been to Ireland since the 20th century, when I carried a Eurail Pass and backpack and stayed in a hostel for £2 a night and wandered the streets of what was then one of Europe’s poorest cities.
A young man wearing a Britney Spears T-shirt tucked into a red longyi (wraparound skirt) poked at a tree with a 20-foot pole. I’d been in the dust of central Burma all day, traveling between ancient temples on a rickety bike, but this sight caught my interest.
“This owl—no good,” he explained in English. “It made my mom sick.”
You’d never know it from the tempestuous surf, nosebleed-high coastal bluffs and chilly, decidedly un-Serengeti-like wind gusts, but giraffes live happily on the Mendocino Coast—for our purposes, a wildly scenic 35-mile stretch of shore that extends from the town of Mendocino to Point Arena—along with some of their fellow endangered African ungulates (the greater kudu, Grevy’s zebra, and the sable antelope).
For some, Mexico City comes with a warning label. When I posted on Facebook that I was going, my sister emailed me an article about beheadings. A tennis pal cautioned me to take only radio-controlled taxis, to avoid the risk of being taken for a metaphorical (and literal) ride.
If you’re shopping for an inferiority complex, Copenhagen is a great place to start. Impossibly good-looking and enviably progressive, this Nordic “It” city can make the best of us feel as though we were troglodytes. Bicycles outnumber cars, locals swim in pristine downtown waterways, and renegade chefs go foraging in the forest.
There’s a dignified building in the center of Reykjavík that’s painted in thick coats of brown varnish. Constructed in the 18th century, it’s the oldest wooden house in the capital, but it keeps its age a secret, just as it hides the ancient bones of the Viking hall buried under its cellar.
Baja, schmaja. The skinny stretch of Mexico may be Californians’ respite of choice for its convenient proximity, but if you venture farther east for the weekend, toward our southern neighbor’s Caribbean waters, you’ll be richly rewarded for your efforts.
Palm Springs, once a desert playground for the likes of the Rat Pack and their purportedly tempermental lady loves is now a destination for neohippies (aka flower-strewn Coachella and Stagecoach festivalgoers) and modern design enthusiasts alike.
Despite the recent inches of snow accumulated in Tahoe these past couple of weeks, the less than optimal snowpack pales in comparison to Jackson Hole’s 358 inches of total snowfall this season. With a new direct flight from SFO, a quick trip to Jackson Hole is the antidote to California’s precipitation deficiency. Plus, you don’t need to be a skier to enjoy all the action the valley has to offer (though if you are, you’re in for a steep and powdery thrill).
Our city is chock-full of interesting people and wild personalities. Overwhelmed by the coolness? Every week we'll pick one standout local we'd love to be friends with to answer seven essential questions about their life in San Francisco.