Haight times in hippieland
It’s gentrified today but an insight experience targets the city’s ’60s heyday and its food, writes Chanel Parratt
DRESSED head to toe in tie-dye, walking on a rainbow just a few steps in front is Izu, my ‘‘ keep your karma clean’’ guide to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.
Quirky, colourful, all peace, love and rock ’ n’ roll, I’mtrying to listen to her wax lyrical about ‘‘ that summer’’, before she goes off on another tangent.
Standing outside the house The Grateful Dead once lived in, Izu excitedly tells us all to look down and I notice I’mstanding on a Banksy: portraits of the rockers sprayed on to the path beneath our feet.
Gentrification has priced a lot of people out of The Haight but the district still stands as a symbol of counterculture, just more subtly.
Lucky for me I’mwith Izu who, although far from subtle (even the fire department know her as they lean out their truck and wave hello), is always happy to reminisce over the Summer of Love, pointing out murals and community centres that still stand from the Human Be-In of ’ 67.
I’d like to say that clever research on my part brought me to this unique tour but in truth I’mon a guided holiday with Trafalgar, and this is one of their unique insight experiences. In the case of San Francisco, Trafalgar is acting as friend, not tour guide, although I’ve managed to score something a little more up-market than a dodgy futon couch.
They’re pointing me in the right direction; hitting the main tourist spots but also helping me discover what makes San Francisco tick. Izu is one way, food another. The following morning we hit the wonderful Ferry Plaza Farmers Market where we split into small groups for a guided tour by local foodie Lisa.