Do you believe in love at first sight?! – I´m not a person who falls in love easily in real life. But I´m not myself when it comes to cities. Let me share with you my latest crush – The City by The Bay, San Francisco.
Romances with Cities
Ok. The romances with different cities happened quite often in my life. I´ve been in love with Valencia as a teenager, but once I moved to Spain – my love object switched for the German city of Berlin, where I learned German for a month. And as if it was not enough – after I finished my business studies and went to Hong Kong for my internship program, Asia had become an ultimate obsession (I really had a hard time going back to Europe when the moment came). And here you think, how many times might someone fall in love?! – I´ll tell you once I stop. Cause here comes my latest crush – the city of San Francisco!
“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.”
― Roman Payne
That´s exactly my point here. We choose cities that match our personalities at a certain point in our lives. For instance, Paris is one of the prettiest places on this planet, but we just didn´t click. In fact, how many times we´ve all arrived at a destination that would not live it up to our initial expectations?!
But not San Francisco. Not for me.
Despite a grey blanket of clouds pouring over the hills all the weekend, San Francisco has managed to steal my heart. Not that it was completely unexpected: one of my all-time favorite movies Sweet November was filmed here, and I remember having a photo of The Golden Gate Bridge on a Board of Dream Places in my room, as a kid. But I´ve really had high expectations and I was not sure whether they would be met.
However, the first moment the taxi pulled over to our hotel entrance and I´ve stepped onto one of the local steep streets – the iconic sound of a cable car made me realize that there´s definitely something very special about San Francisco, something hard to put into words… One quick glimpse and I knew I was going to like it here.
San Franciso & The New Digital Era
I remember posting on Instagram a photo of The Golden Gate Bridge with a Joe Flower´s quote below: “Money lives in New York. Power sits in Washington. And freedom sips a cappuccino in a sidewalk cafe in San Francisco.” Freedom is probably the closest word to describe your feelings when standing in front of an impressive 746-foot tall orange structure surrounded by the splendid beauty of Californian Nature. Freedom comes in waves and ocean breeze, doesn´t it?!
And then someone made a good point in the comments that Joe Flower´s quote is actually “a little out of date these days”. Because money lives in San Franciso now.
And it really does.
The digital era has completely reshaped San Fran and you can read thousands of stories of people from the Bay City, simply leaving California. Cause who can change this rent?! I haven´t been to San Francisco before the tech took off. And the truth is that as a visitor you don´t really experience any city the same way locals do.
Nevertheless, despite being fully aware of this “other side” of San Francisco – I´ve still fallen for it. Cause you just don´t fall in love with disadvantages, do you?! You fall in love with a personality. You feel the energy of a place and it´s either hit or miss. Either you are disappointed or you become a part of its heartbeat.
But let´s talk details! What makes The City by the Bay so unique?!
7 Things I Loved About The City
1. Streets and Architecture
Some SF streets are so steep that they actually require a sidewalk stairway. But how can you not walk around anyway?! This is how you get the real sense of how things are, the sights, the smells, and the sounds… And then you have the Painted Ladies, colorful Victorian and Edwardian houses. I even liked the Financial District: robust and ambitious.
2. The Golden Gate Bridge
The view that never gets old. Really, nothing to add here.
One of the prettiest neighborhoods and the oldest one in North America. It is the largest Chinese community outside Asia. I know I´ve already mentioned my Hong Kong times – well, in SF´s Chinatown I really felt like I was back in Asia. Everything from the dragon-adorned street lamps to street advertising! Pinch me! Is it still San Francisco?!
4. Street Art
As you might have already realized after my posts about Fanzara and Lisbon entirely dedicated to the street art – I couldn´t have missed The Mission District of San Francisco. More than 200 impressive artworks: a must stop in the city.
5. The Alcatraz Tour
I´ll be honest here: I didn´t want to go to Alcatraz. This is where “the troubles in paradise” started: an Alcatraz debate between me and my husband. I mean, I´m always the first one in a row when it comes to visiting new places. But my point was “when you simply have 3 days to explore a city, how could you spend almost one of those 3 on a former prison?!” Nevertheless, for some reason, Alcatraz was one of the top places on my husband´s USA travel bucket list (men though…) – so how could we not go?! Although I tried my best not to like it – at the end, I really enjoyed everything about this trip: the ferry ride, the inside tour, and even the audio guide. I´m even thinking of doing a Night Tour next time: history & crime documentaries fans – this is your place.
6. The Cable Cars
The only moving national landmark in the States – not bad, right?! Plus it is convenient when you´re not in the mood for the hills. Fun fact: I´ve just recently found out that Maya Angelou was the first San Francisco female black cable Car Conductor. Did you know that?!
7. The Golden Gate Park
The Golden Gate Park is 20% larger than the famous NYC Central Park. More than 1000 acres of trees and gardens. In some areas, I even felt like hiking somewhere outside the city. I wish I could travel back to North California soon and explore more of its nature, including the famous National Parks and the Sequoia giants.
Do you tend to love places you identify with the most?
Have you ever been to SF?