For Sal, his first glimpse of the "fabulous white city" of San Francisco is when he wakes up after falling asleep while Dean drives for hours trying to get money from the "Okie". His first glimpse is picturesque, with the "eleven mystic hills", "blue Pacific", and "potato-patch fog" that help to bring out the mid-afternoon "goldenness" of the city. As usual, the gang is excited to be in a new city, with Sal likening the experience to "getting on shore after a long voyage at sea".
The office buildings sparkle with the rest of the city, but right as Sal and Marylou are taking in the promise of a new city, they're out on the street, penniless again, as Dean drives off down the street in search of another adventure. While Dean goes off in search of Camille, Sal realizes that his dreams of Sam Spade and the glistening office buildings don’t fit with the real "lemon lot" of San Franciscans. As Sal looks out on the streets he sees the "broken-down movie extras", "midget auto-racers", "hustlers", "pimps", and "whores" who make Sal wonder, "how's a man going to make a living with a gang like that?"
The places in San Francisco that Sal encounters, the "flophouse on Mission Street", the "fish-'n-chips joint on Market Street", and the hotel room are all kind of transient places that Sal doesn't really experience because he is too exhausted. In a delirious state, he wanders the streets, picking up long cigarette butts so he can go back to the hotel room and smoke the tobacco, since he can't afford to buy food. While Sal is in his delirious state, Kerouac does what Taun talked about in his article, he "objectifies intimate feelings" that are provoked by the "special quality" of fragrance, taste, and touch. When Sal is at one of his lowest points in the novel, lying in his hotel paid with credit, completely broke smoking his pipe, he smells the promise of San Francisco: the "chow mien flavored air" from Chinatown, the spaghetti sauces from North Beach, the crabs of Fisherman's Wharf, the ribs of Fillmore, the beans of Market Street, the potatoes of Embarcadero, and the steamed clams from Sausalito, but he can’t taste any of it.
After Sal is finally “rescued” by Dean from the “hunger-making raw fog” and the “throb of neons in the soft night”, they quickly grow tired of Dean’s boring married life and decide to go have some fun at the jazz clubs. The jazz clubs are filled with “eager crowds of young semi-intellectuals” and the “mad” performers that make the clubs interesting. On the last night, Sal, Dean, and Marylou go down to the “jazz shacks” across the bay, presumably to find the more authentic clubs that are filled to the brim with “semi-intellectuals”. What they find there are people more beat and more hip then themselves. A guy pulls a chair out from under Marylou and both she and Sal get approached in the bathroom with “propositions”. The jazz shacks across the bay in the oil flats stand in stark contrast with the shimmering office buildings that make Sal think of Sam Spade when he first entered the city. Although Sal doesn’t know what he accomplished by coming to San Francisco, he seems to have gained the experience of living a more “beat” existence, specifically when he is penniless and hungry on the streets and when he visits the crazy jazz clubs than he normally is when he is in his comfort zone.