When we were kids, we were getting influence from everything that we saw and heard. Do you remember the first time you watched “Home Alone 2” and fell in love with New York? Wasn’t it a dream of yours to spend Christmas there and visit all those places Kevin did? At the same time classic “San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie made us want to visit it at least to sing the song next to Golden Gates. Since that time it has become a dream of mine. It always seemed as a perfect place to live: busy life, coffee shops everywhere, magnificent Golden Gate bridge, so many innovations, culture and inspiration.
While New York was about money, San Francisco was about freedom and I was willing to have it at any price. Time passed, but luckily for all of us, dreams have a tendency to come true: my husband and I decided to move to CA. While we lived there, my description of San Francisco was so different from the memories of those who came to visit. I was curious about the story of somebody who did both, so ever since I moved out, I promised to come back and explore it through eyes of traveler. Just recently I got an opportunity to spend one week in San Francisco to finally see it through the eyes of traveler. So this is what happened:
First of all, when you come to visit, you realize that length of time and intent are not the same any more, so you relax and adore it more: now I understand that when I lived in San Francisco, I did not keep my eyes wide open to realize how beautiful and unique it was, I never took a minute to enjoy the fascinating buildings on famous narrow streets, to catch the vibe of the city. This time it was all different: I stopped by favorite places, I slowed down when I wanted to, I spent time in parks and the coffee shops and visited the bay in Oakland – I explored. From the first morning and until my last minute in San Francisco I realized how fast people live, so I had to hurry up and run, run and eat, eat and hurry up not to miss a train or cross the road. The speed was crazy and I do not remember me whether or not I saw it when I lived here.
When you come to visit the place you used to live – you don’t need a map. You remember almost everything: you know how to get to Market street or Golden Gate Bridge, what Bart line or bus to use, when to take off, what direction to walk to get to the destination and where to eat. So that is definitely a plus for you. But you are not used to the speed of big city, so you get tired faster and at the end of the day you feel like a squeezed lemon. In addition, I had only one week and a whole list of the places I would love to revisit, including Oakland and Foster City. I gave closer look to the city and I was amazed by all things I did not notice when I lived here.
Life in California is very expensive, but the prices in San Francisco are insane if you come from Austin TX. On second thought, that this is what you used to pay. Fortunately, this time you are just visiting, that is why who doesn’t want to have nice vacations with good food and shopping? 😉
When I lived in San Francisco, I did not try to see it from a different perspective. Why? Because my husband and I just started the family and money were always an issue considering rent prices in CA. Therefore when you have that much pressure, you obviously don’t think about the beauty of the flowers and smell of the ocean next to Golden Gate Bridge. You do your best to make a living and that takes all your time and energy. Our families lived far from us, so we could not count on anybody but ourselves. Now, when I come to San Francisco, I am still amazed by every little thing there. I see beautiful city living too fast, I see cozy street cafes and luxurious restaurants, I see so many homeless people on the streets that it hurts, I see many cultures living together creating something solid and unique, I feel the vibe of San Fran and the wind of change. I do not hear any of the noise outside because I finally have a chance to enjoy everything San Fran has to offer. I revisit, get inspired, take probably million pictures and can’t wait to tell how much I admire everything that surrounds me. I take the bus and find peace with myself next to fascinating Golden Gate Bridge.
I stop by coffee shops and don’t have to rush, I can smell the coffee and have some time for breakfast. And even though at the end of the day I am so exhausted that all I need is a pillow, I fall asleep with a smile on my face, because I have finally experienced the beauty of San Francisco: that beauty that is described in books, the one people sing about in song and write in poems. I can finally understand its power and weakness, its wealth and poverty, its glory and simplicity.
That is why I came out with a phrase “Don’t live in San Francisco, visit San Francisco”. In my opinion, that is the best you can do not to spoil your impression by all the worries you get when you start calling this city your home. I am sure that many people that live there enjoy it in full, but my story is different.