We were planning to have some beignets as a substitute for Dutch New Year's oliebollen, but to our (mostly mine) dissapointment the beignet cafe was closed yesterday. So instead we treated ourselves to some yummy coffee concoctions at Starbucks. And we'll try to get some fake oliebollen tomorrow.
We were also planning on seeing a midnight fireworks show at Embarcadero. It had been rainy all week, but according to the weather report New Year's Eve was going to be dry, but yesterday afternoon the weather report changed on us and was predicting rain. And not much later we found ourselves walking through the rain and considering changing our plans for the night.
Another plan we had was to have dinner at our favorite place in Japantown, Osakaya. We love the yakiniku teishoku they serve for lunch and were happy to find they served a slightly more expensive version for dinner. This didn't surprise us as it's very common for restaurants in Japan to sell the same food for lunch at a lower price, as a method of attracting customers and hoping they'll come back for the pricier at a later time. The waitress at Osakaya told us that the amount of food was as at lunch, so Yasu even ordered some extra rice.
But when they brought our food the sheer amount of food surprised us, these meals were about twice as large as their lunch versions. And Yasu now had four times the amount of rice he thought would come with the meal. As expected the yakiniku and all its side dishes were delicious, but it was way, way, way too much. But frugal as we are these days, we didn't want to waste such an 'expensive' and special meal. And a doggybag won't come in handy in New Year's Eve fireworks crowd.
So we ate it all, and we were so full we were afraid it would come out again. Not a good feeling and next time we'll just order one yakiniku meal and share. But we'll definitely return, because it's just too good!
It was still rainy after dinner so we decided to give up on the fireworks and check out a friend's New Year's Eve party instead. The party was fun. We talked to a lot of her friends (it's amazing how many people fit in a small apartment), found out that the wine we brought didn't contain any alcohol (which was good for non-alcoholic Yasu), and started to recover from dinner's assault on our stomachs.
But we were still dissapointed about having to miss the fireworks. Every single New Year's Eve I've experienced revolved around fireworks, without it it's just not really New Year's... So a little after 11 PM, when the rain seemed to have subsided, we chose to try and make our way to the other side of town before midnight to see the fireworks, after all.
On normal evenings, it would have been easy to get to Embarcadero on time. But it was New Year's Eve, buses didn't show up and when a bus finally did show up, it took forever to get to Embarcadero because dozens of people were getting on and off at every busstop. Most people wanted to go see the fireworks just like us, and everybody was anxious to get to Embarcadero before countdown. Some people were frantically yelling for the bus driver to hurry up. I was also worried we wouldn't make it.
With just three minutes left we were almost at Embarcadero when the bus turned left and went in a different direction, and everybody on the bus looked confused and a little upset. Where were we going?? Later we realized the crowd at Embarcadero was too large, so buses couldn't go there.
Suddenly, people started counting down and celebrating the New Year. On the bus. People with different times on their watches started other countdowns and other celebrations. So did we. We started the New Year on a San Francisco bus, yelling Happy New Year to and with strangers.
A couple of minutes into the New Year the bus arrived at a different part of Embarcadero and we could see the fireworks from the bus. Everybody got off the bus, while shrieking and howling happy sounds and more Happy New Year's to even more strangers.
And the beautiful fireworks made New Year's Eve complete!
The moment the fireworks concluded it started raining again, and hard. We hid under Yasu's umbrella, but it didn't help much. But it didn't matter, we were happy and we'd just had a very interesting and slightly frantic (on the bus) and traditional (the fireworks) shift into the New Year.
This is our first picture together in 2011, in the rain, in the huge crowd at Embarcadero. We wish everybody a happy and healthy 2011!