This year's faire was a wee bit bigger than last year, but still much smaller than it had been before 2001. Last year it was one block short of reaching El Camino, this year it took up all of Castro Street from Central to El Camino. But it used to also fill at least half a block from Castro in both directions along all the cross streets, and this time they only put a couple of food stands or public service booths in the side streets. Again, this is better than last year when some of the side streets had nothing.
Merchant participation in the faire was also down this year. Only a handful of the shops and restaurants put things out on the sidewalk, I especially missed the Thai and Chinese restaurants which used to do this every year. However, they were all packed to the gills, so at least they got a decent income boost.
I didn't take many photos. There just were not any scantily clad women there, and not a lot of eye candy in general. Had the same disappointment last year.
The number of items which caught my eye was also very small. Pretty much everything was from the usual suspects, you see them at every faire every year. There was one new item which I would have bought if the price wasn't so outlandish. It's a spinning spiral of metal with a pair of glass balls inside, one large one small. As it spins, the balls appear to move up the spiral, but they actually stay in the same place. It's an optical illusion the seller credits Houdini with inventing, but I kind of doubt that, since he was not one for abstract illusions.
Two booths which were there last year tempted me for a bit. One is a fellow who makes wooden plaques with clever sayings on them. Some of them hit home, most of them I would rather have on a bumper sticker or a T-shirt. The other booth is a fellow who makes puzzles out of metal wire. Some of them are made from cable strands left over from the Golden Gate Bridge construction, or so he claims. He has gold-plated those puzzles, and wants considerably more for them, of course. Nice guy, interesting puzzles. I just wasn't in a buying mood. For a change.
After dinner had a craving for Black Forest Cake, but could not for the life of me remember where I'd had some. Until yesterday I thought it was Bean Scene, but that was where my date was last night, and they didn't have any. So I hopped on 280 and headed for Stanford Shopping Center and Max's Cafe. It was just past 7 pm, and all the stores were closing. Very strange, I thought they would be open till 9. Max's was open, but they didn't have black forest cake. They only had about 6 desserts on the menu, apparently they have done away with the dessert cart they used to have. Or at least I thought they used to have.
By this time dinner had kicked in, and I really wasn't hungry anymore, so I walked the length of the mall and then got back in the car and took El Camino back to Mountain View. Many changes. At Stanford Mall they are building a huge 2-story Williams-Sonoma due to open next year. They have allowed the building to eat up a significant amount of grassy area, which was not good to see. They have also added a men's clothing store next to Nieman-Marcus, another new building. And there's a PF Chang on the corner of El Camino and Quarry, a new building on what used to be parking lot. Lots of changes along El Camino in Palo Alto too. Maybe not too new, for the past 4 years I've mostly used Central and Alma to get places in that neck of the woods.