My first trip to San Francisco was nothing short of phenomenal.
I’ll start off by mentioning the most genius food invention of all time: Sushirrito. It’s all my favourite things in one.
We went in March 2014, so it was pretty damn cold in Canada… which made this trip that much more amazing. To be experiencing 15 degree weather (in Celsius) in March was absolute insanity to me.
Aside: If you’ve never been to Canada… just know that it’s cold. Really really cold. (But this winter is supposed to be one of the warmest ever! Be stoked.)
San Francisco is one of the most hipster and beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. We went there because a lot of our university friends were doing a co-op work placement during that term.
Here are some photos before I elaborate:
I found the city to be pretty small. You can see most of the important parts in half a week – the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, some nice piers, and Ghiradelli Square. Still, I’d say at least a week is needed for you to get a feel for the city’s culture.
The financial district is beautiful in a manmade kind of way. High rise buildings, men in suits, cars and people everywhere. We stayed with a few friends in a nice condo on Pine street.
Looks like any other city if you look straight down from a tall building.
Oh, but it so is not just any other city. It’s a bunch of random shit put together. You can see a beautiful body of water from pretty much anywhere. Most things are within walking distance. The financial district is beside the main mall, which is right beside tenderloin.
What is tenderloin, you ask? It’s sketchy as fuck, that’s what. It smells like weed, piss, and just… it’s dirty. Don’t go there. If you do, make sure you are in a car with the doors locked and the windows closed. You’re not going to die or anything (at least, not in broad daylight). But we accidentally walked through it, and all I remember is stinky people openly yelling the names of random drugs at us.
There’s also a hipster area with vintage stores (a nicer version of Kensington market in Toronto)… but one of the most unique parts of San Francisco was the Castro District. It has a giant rainbow flag (see above), and lots of gay bars. And a store (Hot Cookie) that sells giant, delicious penis-shaped cookies. People are so openly gay in that city – even at clubs. It’s fascinating, inspiring, and just hands-down amazing.
My favourite part, though, was Dolores park. It’s just this giant area of grass where people go to chill and/or do drugs. Everyone’s lying down and hanging with friends. There is colour everywhere. It is just so damn green. There’s a truffle man that sells special truffles (and by “special”, I do not mean yummy). There are men tanning on their stomachs, pretty much naked except for their underwear… which is rolled into a thong and shoved up their butt-cracks. (Somehow, there is also a playground in this park.)
We also got to visit our friends at work – Facebook and LinkedIn. The environment is ridiculously amazing. Facebook was arranged like a small town of different buildings. There was an arcade room, a burger/hot dog place, cafeteria, music room, etc. The tech companies in California have things you would never think to look for in a business – rock climbing walls, snack bars, cafeterias with ALL KINDS OF HOT SAUCE. And of course we took a photo in the trippy Facebook room!
Oh, by the way, that giant pool you see there.. that’s just the back yard of where Facebook interns live. No biggie.
All in all, San Francisco changed me. It was eye-opening. That week was filled with absolute wonder and self discovery. I was so much more adventurous and risk-taking than I’d ever been. The people played a huge role (so it definitely was not just the city itself that I fell in love with). I loved the community, the open culture, and the tech environment. It was the shortest period in which I met the most life-changing people. They opened my life to a whole new world of possibilities. Their impact did not end with the trip, but continued to grow afterwards through the network of people I met over the following years.
The trip was phenomenal. Once I returned to Canada, I felt so… restless. I thought about San Francisco every day for maybe a year. I felt like there was so much that I still needed to see. If one city in one state in one country made me feel that way, what about all the others out there in which I’ve not yet stepped foot?