Haight times in hip­pieland

It’s gen­tri­fied to­day but an in­sight ex­pe­ri­ence tar­gets the city’s ’60s hey­day and its food, writes Chanel Par­ratt

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - QUIRKY SAN FRANCISCO -

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.

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