Cool Gray City of Love: Literary San Francisco

An island kingdom of splendid golden riches. A muddy, anything-goes boomtown. A city of foggy back alleys where trouble broods. In fiction and not too far off in fact, San Francisco has been all these and more. Writers from Frank Norris to Dashiell Hammett to Rebecca Solnit have captured facets of this city of ephemeral beauty and profound contradictions, a place as changeable as the sea and sky that surround it.

Portsmouth Square, San Francisco, in 1851
Portsmouth Square, San Francisco, in 1851

In this unique historical, literary and culinary overview of San Francisco, we’ll explore how a cluster of wood and adobe buildings in a sheltered cove grew to become an economic powerhouse run on gold and silicon; a nexus of experimentation in literature, theatre and music; a centre of gay life and culture; and an oft-romanticized bastion of progressive politics. What forces have shaped San Francisco into the city it is today? Where is it headed as California, the world’s sixth-largest economy, takes a bigger role on the world stage?

Nob Hill, San Francisco
A view from Nob Hill/Aude on Wikimedia

As we consider these questions we’ll first explore some of the city’s oldest and most famed neighbourhoods, walking in the footsteps of Gold Rush miners, Barbary Coast sailors, entrepreneurial madams and railroad magnates. When our feet get tired, we’ll climb aboard a cable car to enjoy the views of the bay from atop Nob Hill. We’ll then head to Golden Gate Park and the de Young museum with its rich collection of American art, including important landscape paintings of California and the West. Finally, we’ll trace the history and ongoing importance of San Francisco’s LGBTQ community with a walking tour of the Castro neighbourhood.

Napa Valley vineyard/Aurimas on Flickr

San Francisco is one of the world’s great restaurant towns, and as a group and on your own there will be opportunities to enjoy a dynamic dining scene where California’s bounty takes a starring role. And of course, we won’t neglect the fruit of the vine. We’ll cross the Golden Gate Bridge to spend a relaxed day of wine tasting in the green hills of the Napa Valley, which has been producing wine since the 1830s.

All Travel Pursuits operate under the umbrella of our partner, Worldwide Quest (TICO Reg: #2667946). Worldwide Quest arranges the logistics for each trip to complement our literary theme. They handle all bookings/registration and are happy to book flights and help with pre- and post-trip arrangements.


Register Online with Our Partner Worldwide Quest

San Francisco, California

Melanie is available to lead this trip year-round

McTeague by Frank Norris and selected readings by Robert Louis Stevenson, Bret Harte, M. F. K. Fisher, Robert Hass, Rebecca Solnit and more.

Melanie Blake is thrilled to be your host in San Francisco, where she has lived since 2010. She can be found at the de Young, competing at the notoriously difficult pub quiz at Geary Street’s Edinburgh Castle, or riding her bike up and down the city’s many hills.

The Warwick San Francisco or similar

US$2,495 per person based on double occupancy for 10–13 participants
US$2,195 pp based on double occupancy for 14–16 participants
Single supplement: US$850
US$150 taxes and gratuities per person

All fees are approximate. Fee includes guides, readings, accommodation, two meals a day, discussions, ground transportation, walking tours, talks, excursions, and admissions.

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