The Dock of the Bay


The Trip before the Trip – San Francisco, California

The Painted Ladies

At midnight on Thursday, after sitting on a plane for over 6 hours I looked down on what was supposed to be San Francisco. The Pilot was explaining that we had been circling for some time over the city covered in thick fog and now we were out of gas and going to Oakland to fill up (which was even foggier, but there was no line to land). Being an East Coaster, I don’t know exactly how Oakland fits in with SF (well I do now) so when we landed and were informed that we were getting gas and would be back in the air to SFO eventually I wasn’t sure what to do. “How much is a taxi and how long is the ride?” …”Oh wait, the BART runs all the way here?” So I got off at Oakland.

the BART at midnight - not too sketchy

Now, my friend had a town car meeting her at the airport that I was supposed to jump into, so being down-grading to a 45 minute commute on the subway at midnight, or 3am according to my internal clock, was low on my list. As I was running with bags to make sure I made the last train a thought came over me: this is going to be my life for the next several months – dealing with it in the U.S. is good practice – at least the directions are in English. After arriving at my stop and following a very stubborn blue dot on my iphone in every direction but the right one, and then finally dragging my bag in correct direction (up a 20 degree inclined hill for several blocks), I made it to the hotel. I found Michelle, changed my shirt and despite every bone in my body begging me not to, we went and grabbed a beer and at a great pub – and then, just like magic I felt completely content.

That’s what travel is always like for me. I have these moments of “you’ve got to be kidding me,” especially when traveling on a budget, where expensive cabs and hotels are out of the question. But those moments wash away instantly and the good parts stay. San Francisco is a city that you can’t help but smile in. The weather screams London rather than California – but the attitudes are 100% west coast American. This was my third time – and there was so much city I hadn’t discovered before.

Some Chandon for Breakfast

I’m finally reading On the Road, and the synchronicity of reading it while visiting San Fran hadn’t occurred to me. But as I walked down Haite Street and drank in places like Vesuvio I smiled at my surroundings. These places haven’t been completely overrun by tourists, they’re still very authentic and alive. The beat generation may be gone but the spirit of those days is still intact. I also couldn’t pass up chilling with the other Bay Area sub-culture: the winos. Michelle and I spent all of Saturday in Napa Valley -agreeing that the scenery was remarkable and the wines were okay (next time we would choose different wineries – this is not a judgment on Napa as a whole).

So now I’m back in Boston and staying put for the next 5 weeks. I wasn’t planning on including my weekend getaway as part of my blog, but as I was sitting on a bench in the dark Oakland station, clutching my bags a little too firmly while drunk kids tried to make conversation, I thought about how I don’t need to go to Asia to started telling traveling tales. The U.S. is full of surprises (good and bad) too.

P.S. Dear JetBlue, the flight was great (although none of the flight attendents exited on the escape slide to my dismay) but next time I’d like to land at the airport on my Itinerary. I hope thats not to much to ask.

“‘We gotta go and never stop going till we get there.’ ‘Where we going, man?’ ‘I don’t know but we gotta go.'”
– Jack Keouac

all photos taken on my iphone


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