No Shopping Required – San Francisco Days

Posted by Jill Chivers in My Story

hi there and welcome to blog #88.  I’ve talked before about my pattern of shopping when I’m travelling.  Something about being in another country, city, suburb… has encouraged me to shop.  I’ve convinced myself that it’s been a unique and interesting way to get to know a new place.

You know that story, right?  If you like to shop, or have owned up to the possibility that you may be a shopaholic, then you’ve probably told yourself that same line whenever you’ve come home with twice as many bags as you left with.  Shopping was an important part of of getting to know the place, right?

Riiiight.  Nothing brings you closer to a new culture than going into a mall constructed of national if not international brands and staying there for almost all of daylight hours. 

Of course that’s not the only kind of shopping one can do in a new place.  There is shopping you can do where sunshine and unfiltered air is part of the experience – strip malls, outdoor bazaars, High or main street shopping. 

One of our wonderful members, Amanda, recently commented that she’s visiting the glorious city of Sydney and doesn’t quite know what she’ll do with herself if she doesn’t go shopping.  I can relate.  When I lived there I felt that way, let alone when I moved away and came back to visit.

I’m in San Francisco right now (love this city!!!)… and if I wasn’t on this challenge, I would’ve been wondering what I’d be doing if shopping wasn’t a key feature of the experience.  Well, actually, I wouldn’t have been wondering that because I would’ve been in the stores already.

So, what have I done instead? 

Well today I visited Lovejoy’s Tearoom in the Noe Valley.  We had Tea for Two (an actual menu item)

This is one seriously funky and fabulous tea room.  And the experience took up much of the day – being picked up in the city by my friend, the trip over to the Noe Valley (are we driving on a cable car track or what?), waiting 45 minutes for a table because we hadn’t booked in advance, luxuriating in a proper tea experience  (did you get a look at that two-storey tea plate?  And if you’ve never had a pear & stilton tea sandwich, you haven’t truly lived), being ferried back home via Twin Peaks (views of the city and bay in all directions) and the world’s curliest street (Lombard)…

Today was a wonderful day!  Hours spent in a fabulous experience that I’ll remember for a long time (and if I forget – there’s photos!) and not a moment spent inside a fluorescent filled store. 

If shopping has been part of what you enjoy about travelling but you’re not sure if you’re deluding yourself, here’s what I suggest:

  • consider it highly possible that you are kidding yourself.  Awareness and acceptance preceded choice.  You can’t change anything unless you  are first aware of it.   Shopping is a lot of things but seriously, friend, it really can’t be billed as a key way to get to know a new place … not the way we’ve been doing it anyway – like it’s a marathon and we’re a long-limbed, lung-capacity-of-an-elephant, never-break-out-in-a-sweat competitor from a north African nation
  • next time you travel, investigate and explore what else the place has to offer, besides shopping.  This is challenging if your next holiday is to the Outlet Malls of Nevada.  In all other cases, there’s likely to be something fun, funky and far out that you can do that doesn’t involve shopping for clothes.  Or shoes.  Or jewellery.  Or handbags.  Or scarves.  And yes, those scarves sold by curb vendors are indeed (as you suspect) made from polyester, no matter how much they try to convince you’re they’re real pashmina or cashmere. 
  • spend more time in exploring the places to eat and the live entertainment experiences that your destination offers.  Get off the beaten path and try at least one thing that you wouldn’t ordinarily do or see or eat.  Although any menu item with the word “legs” in it should be viewed with wariness.   Last night, we saw a play called Murder for Two at the 42nd Street Moon Theatre in Jackson Square.  It was fantastic – two players (one playing the role of Office Marcus Markowitz, and the other playing the nine (yup, 9) suspects in the murder investigation).  Much better than spending the evening in Westfield on Market
  • if it just feels like too much of a stretch to not shop at all during your next trip, then limit your shopping to stores that are unique to that area and aren’t for clothes.  You know, the glass blowers of Monterey or the chocolatiers of the 6th Arondissement.  Just be aware of how easy it is to slip into shopping transference.  Which isn’t a good thing.
  • Consider joining us here for your own fabulous year without clothes shopping!

Tomorrow we’re going to the Chocolate Salon in Fort Mason.  Which we’ll know how to get to because we’re going to the Bay Area TheatreSports long-form improvsational program tonight there.  See how much fun you can have when you’re time is filled up with local experiences that fill the eye, the stomach and the human need to laugh at someone else on stage.   No shopping required. Right?

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