Sometimes you gotta leave the city…

And you’ll get a few surprises when you do. My wife and I were trying to figure out what to do last Friday because our daughter was off from school for a furlough day and needed something to get some of the energy out of her.After jokingly saying let’s go to San Jose because I hate when she asks, “What do you want to do” and no matter what I offer she always comes up with something different.

So I waited and she comes in and says what about San Mateo? San Mateo? Why San Mateo? Well it turns out that there’s a huge toy store there called Talbots Toyland that she’s heard a lot about. I figured it’s close enough and I haven’t been outside the city [which means farther south than Serramonte] in quite awhile.

Now I know I’m supposed to be writing about all things San Francisco, but when we got there I saw something I didn’t see in San Francisco, well there were a few things:

  1. It’s clean, almost Singapore-like clean.
  2. No homeless people.
  3. No one has an accent. This is something people who hate the Marina say it’s because they’re “too white” but they aren’t “too white” there were asians, latinos and african americans, just no accents or ebonics.
  4. You can understand people who ask to take your order in a restaurant. See above
  5. Parking Downtown: It’s there and it’s 50¢ per hour!

As we were walking around the downtown area we noticed that there was a Draeger’s market across the street so we decided to take a peek. Not really a cheap grocery store, but the quality of the food was good and they actually had products I had never heard of, like Yunnan Palace Bamboo Rice which is green. They even had an escalator going up to the second floor where they had home and kitchen wares.

As for Talbots Toyland, they had everything. They had a room just for model train people and slot car enthusiasts. I didn’t even know they still made slot cars. They had another room of just dolls and another just for biking supplies. They had a stuffed giraffe toy that was easily 15 ft tall and we were wondering what kind of house you would have to have to have that. Obviously a big one.

There are some downsides though. If you like to drink more than beer and wine you’ll have a problem. There were only two bars we saw downtown [mind you this wasn’t an exhaustive check out, only a couple of hours] and Draeger’s only carries wine and beer. Your selection of foods are a little thin downtown in that there’s four pizza places in one block, Two taquerias in the next and a couple of Chinese and Japanese restaurants in the third. Their traffic signs also could use a bit of work, when we were leaving there was a sign that pointed to us to get over to the left for San Francisco which when we did missed the on ramp to San Francisco because that was on the right. We then proceeded to make a U-turn and what looked like pretty much the only street you COULD make a U-turn on and as we’re driving back the on ramp that pointed to 101 South turned out to be the onramp for 101 North. We still made it home in under 30 minutes.

It was a nice place to visit, but I like the fact that San Francisco keeps you on your toes. Which is probably part of the reason people on the Peninsula don’t like San Francisco. As we were walking down the streets we could have been in Burlingame or Millbrae, everything looked the same. No big chain stores though. I’m sure there’s a few there, there has to be and I didn’t see a single SamTrans bus, but did get shaken as the Cal-Train passed by.

All in all, I think I like San Francisco better, but it’s nice to get away once in awhile.