I have always wanted to see San Francisco, so I decided that I would stop over for a few days between Vancouver and Auckland. It turned out to be a fruitful experience, although I arrived in the evening to a chilly rain storm, and I got lost looking for my hostel. I stopped for a coffee and to get my bearings and a nice man let me use his cell phone to call the hostels and get directions. I often ask strangers for assistance, or even just the time. Sometimes when you're travelling alone its the only real chance to make a connection in a day.
My hostel was full of long term travellers, everybody on their own adventures, like trains passing by each other on seperate tracks. Some people live in hostels long term, which isn't what I would want to do, but apartments are a little more permanent than some travellers would like, I guess.
My first night I spent an interesting evening just shooting the shit with some guys, you know talking about big things that one can hardly claim expertise in. Like how to change the current trajectories of the world and how to convince people that you're right about how it all should be. But sometimes you have waste your breathe to learn what kind of people you're meeting especially when you have only a few days to know them and then leave them. And then after that a half assed game of pool at a nearby club and a walk through the damp streets of Union Square to find food at 2am.
Day one I spent the day walking the piers and being a tourist, which is fun except for all the other tourists being tourists. Lines and inflated prices for crap and such other inevitabilities of being in such a touristy town. I went to the Aquarium by the Bay, which I don't recommend, but it was included in my CityPass so I went.
Day two I went to Alcatraz early in the day, what an amazing little place that is. Great views of the city, different periods of architecture built on top of each other and all of it crumbling and slowly decaying with the plant and species of the island making it a refuge from the spawl that is all around them. Even if the history and prison aren't your thing, the gardens and wildlife are interesting as well. After that I rode a cable car to Chinatown, walked for a while until I came to Washington Square and then Lombard St, the whindiest street in the world. Of course I walked up it, instead of planning before hand to approach from the top. At the top, I took a cable car back to Union square and chatted with a Brazilian man who lived in London worked for a Spainish company and was in San Fran for work. Only now could someone's life be so wrapped around the world.
In the evening I was lucky to stumble into what would be a series of dates with a man, named Yossi, I met at the hostel. He help me find french fries for my late night appetite that first night. We had sushi near Union Square, it was delicious.
Day three I went to Golden Gate Park, but it was a bit rainy so I didn't walk all the way to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead I spent the afternoon at the California Academy for the Sciences, which I would recommend, emphatically. Amazing exhibits, aquarium, rainforest eco-dome and planetarium, it wholly satisfied my inner (and well maintained) geek. This was followed by another date, this time Thai.
Day four was spent hanging out with Yossi again, who bought me breakfast, helped my buy some snacks for the plane ride to Auckland, went to the print shop with me to print travel documents and kept me company while I did my laundry. Actually, day four was the best day of them all. Then he took me to the airport, which was awesome of him. Its always nice to do a 'chick-flick' inspired goodbye at security with someone. And now I don't need to see Before Sunrise/Sunset. I've lived it. (oh barf, I can't believe I wrote that!!)