I walk from my hotel to a park on Nob Hill, steep above the city, where a three-hour walking tour starts at one o’clock. It is a fogless day and the sun is burning.
The park is opposite Grace Cathedral, a hollow pastiche of Middle Ages architecture with Norman towers, Gothic arches and a copy of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth inside a flamboyant Gothic doorway that mimics Florence’s Baptistry and faces east, not west. Its bells peal off descending semitones over three mournful octaves. I walk away.
The guide comes and after three days of walking I’m relieved she is fair skinned, greatly overweight and wearing a shadeless Florentine hat thing that flops on her head like gathered velvet. Then the eighty-year old Richard and his sexagenarian partner, Richard, from Palm Springs shuffle up and we spend most of the afternoon walking downhill in the shade.