Friday, June 22, 2012


In Chinatown - can I EVER take a straight picture?
Last week I spent some time in San Francisco. It was awesome in 4 ways:

1. I haven't gotten out of Washington State in 2 whole years, so I was getting a little stir crazy and wanting to see some new and different scenery.

2. I got to see friends.

3. I didn't have to share a bed with anyone. (I ordinarily share a queen-size bed with two people--not like THAT...the third person is my daughter.) A whole bed to myself is quite a novelty.

4. I got to titillate my rampant nerdy ways.

Talking specifics about #2 from above violates my blogging practice here (family is fair game though). #3 isn't terribly interesting. And talking specifics about #4 also violates my blogging practice here.

Thus, I will tell you about San Francisco from a Washingtonian's point of view. My mom would tell you that it was my second visit to San Francisco, but since I didn't have bladder control quite yet on my actual first visit, I'll say that THIS was my first visit.

I suppose when you build up something in your head, the actual can't compete with what you think it will be like. The Golden Gate bridge was cool. I wish I had gone on an Alcatraz night tour (soooo creepy). The Wharf is pretty. Chinatown was neat. But other than those things, the city itself was more ho-hum than I expected.

Sirens were going all night long. People were outside screaming and fighting all night long. Everything is so small. I'm sure these are qualities of all big cities: feeling like you're on sensory overload and feeling claustrophobic. There weren't trees in the city; I was hard pressed to even find an open space with some grass. The literal and metaphorical space seemed to be so overwhelmed by people that I couldn't catch a breath.

I enjoyed walking in the city. Being cooped up in a small hotel room at night and crammed in a conference room during the day made me want to spread my wings in the evenings. I covered quite a bit of territory each night on foot. I walked to the wharf (west a couple of miles), went through Nob Hill and Chinatown, went about a mile south, and then looped back to the financial district. I loved walking through the city and seeing people in the laundromats or bars going about their normal, everyday lives. I enjoyed watching the NCAA game at the downtown pub. 

Living in a big city wouldn't be my first or even second residence preference. It is nice to not need a car when you're in the city though. I like being close to the big city for the amenities, but I appreciate the slower pace of my day-to-day life in suburbia.

Seattle has a different feel to it. I don't think Seattle's as claustrophobic. We have parks even in the middle of the city. The people seem less aggressive here. 

What I realized during this trip is that I could make it work. If I had to live in the city, I'd learn to get by and not resent it. I realized how self-reliant and resourceful I am. I could navigate BART seamlessly and walk around seedy areas. I could figure things out (with the aid of my trusty phone GPS). I can learn. Traveling by one's self is a self-empowering endeavor that I really did like.

And I'm still sighing about not knowing about the night tours at Alcatraz. I would totally go back just to do the night tour.

San Francisco from the Golden Gate Bridge

Approaching the Golden Gate Bridge - again, never a straight picture

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