Did you miss me? I’m not even sure I missed myself. Between travel, work and a few other commitments, blogging has not been on my radar in July. But now that things are settling down, I can focus on writing this blog, and ergo, possibly put together a portfolio to eventually involve money changing hands…
So what’s on the agenda this week, good folks?!?!??? Yes, my boring travel stories. In July, I visited the West AND the East Coasts of the good ol’ US of A, so let’s recount them in excruciating detail, okay? Today’s blog will describe my visit to San Francisco, which was one full day of laughs and gaffs.
After visiting my relatives, (some of which was described here), my family dropped me back to San Francisco to recuperate from well, family… while they went their separate ways at the airport. I had one full day in San Francisco before I took the red eye back to DC. Given that I have been to SF before, I had no freakin’ idea of what I wanted to do. I’ve done all the touristy things – now I had the opportunity to see the outskirts… but what???
- Height Ashbury??? (“No, the hippies have been replaced with the homeless and upscale shops.”)
- Berkeley???? (“Again, no. The students are on break. Unless you’re just going there to eat… I wouldn’t advise it”)
Sigh. Okay, I’ll just stick around in San Francisco, go to the tourist sites and people watch, I guess.
It wasn’t until 5 AM the next morning that I decided what exactly I wanted to do. I wanted to see the ocean. Screw San Francisco Bay. The Pacific Ocean is magnificent on the West Coast – huge waves smashing into cliffs while seagulls fly overhead. And the fog and smog add a bit of melancholy to the whole scene. So consulting the internet and the bus system map, I decided to take a bus to the Pacific Ocean, and leisurely walk my way back to downtown… essentially conducting a tour of San Francisco only using public transportation and my feet. Any time I would get tired, I was armed with my map and IPhone to get me on the next bus going to the “next stop…” wherever that would take me. As long as I was back at my abode by 8 PM, that would give me plenty of time to catch my flight back to DC via SFO.
Boarding the bus at SOMA with people trying to get to work a few hours later, I asked the bus driver to let me know when we got to “Lincoln Park” – pretty much the last stop on the line, a few blocks to the ocean. I was following her route on my IPhone via Google Maps, so that I knew where I was at any given point. About 30 minutes later, she very kindly told me that I was at my destination. I knew that I was still five blocks away… but when she gave me my bus pass at my seat – and a power bar, because I “looked hungry,” I decided not to question her. I just decided to hoof it from there.
So I started at the end of Geary Blvd (see map), and followed the Land Ends Trail, which took me to the Golden Gate Bridge, via the most expansive views of the Ocean and South Bay. Boy, this was exactly what I needed. On this gloomy (and frankly cold) Monday morning, I was pretty much the only person on the trail. At the vantage point below, I stopped, sat down and thoroughly enjoyed my newly secured chocolate chip power bar.
Unfortunately, by the time I got to the Golden Gate Bridge, my romantic reveries ended as I was swarmed by tourists and their buses, cameras and rudeness. Everybody was hustling to get a shot of the Bridge from the “best vantage point ever” – except that there were several great vantage points… if they would just turn their freakin’ head. After getting knocked off my feet by one particularly pushy German, I decided to move on.
Now my feet were hurting, and I really WANTED to board a bus, but no buses seemed to disembark at the Golden Gate Bridge, so I continued to walk westward to Downtown… still following the path of the San Francisco Bay. I walked on a trail to the Yellow area of the map above… and probably put on 10 miles on my legs before I finally boarded a bus to Ghirardelli Square. (Unfortunately, no power bar was presented to me this time.) There isn’t much to see there except more pushy tourists, so I moved along quickly a few blocks to Lombard Street.
For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you probably know by this point I was beyond exhausted, hungry and my feet hurt. But I was determined to walk down the curviest road in the world, because surprisingly, as many times as I have been to SF, I had never done. But everything worked against me. I fell as I was descending… and ended up spraining not one, but TWO knees. The only knees I have. Yeow!!!!! (Stay on the lookout for a viral video submitted by one of the many tourists accompanying me of my fall, which I’m sure is quite spectacular.)
Which kinda put the kibosh on my walking tour. Now armed with a bus pass that wouldn’t expire in an hour and a half… I saw Fisherman’s Wharf (arguably, the most overrated tourist area in San Francisco proper), Alcatraz (from the shore), North Shore, and Coit Tower in quick succession.
At Coit, I received a call from my airline, JetBlue, telling me that my airport had been changed from San Francisco to Oakland. So at 4:30 PM, my tourist time ended, as I had to get back ‘home’ to figure out how to get to Oakland. (It ended up not being too bad… I just took the BART subway to Oakland, which had a shuttle to the airport. But yeah, I was cursing JetBlue the entire time I was hustling home.)
But my time in SF would not be complete without walking through Chinatown on my way back, which opposed to the China-block we have going in DC, is quite impressive. Several blocks of hustle and bustle. People making deals, ya’ll. It also feels authentic because it stinks with its expansive fresh fish markets, spices that probably I can’t even pronounce, and well, sweaty tourists. I wandered through some souvenir shops, but stopped myself from buying another knick knack that I’ll throw away in a few years. From there, I caught my final bus (with the same bus pass… my tour cost all of $4) to my friend’s place in SOMA.
Frankly, I’m surprised just how transit-friendly San Francisco proper actually is. As someone who doesn’t drive, I can really see myself living there at some point. We will see.
Before I bid adieu, here are a few more pics of my adventures…