Last week I took a short trip to the Californian west coast, and had the pleasure of visiting San Francisco for the first time.
It’s a beautiful city with lots of charm. I liked its architecture, the colonial or Victorian-type houses all mashed together one next to the other up and down the 47 hills that the city contains. I walked up one of those hills and it was certainly a workout. Taking the trolley up the hills was also fun, though stuffy because so many people use them.
San Francisco’s charm reminded me of Paris, maybe a little of Buenos Aires, Argentina. All three are pretty cities, but what sets San Francisco apart for me were its trees. There were so many different types of trees in the city; willowy trees with purple leaves, stout, knobby trees with wide, twisted branches and no leaves at all, and bushy trees with green leaves.
The park was one of the highlights of the trip, with the coastline beating against the rocks of the cliffs and the park trees growing opposite the direction the wind hits them. In other parts there are large open green spaces that were used for events like the Summer of Love back in the hippie days.
The pier was a big reconnaissance of all different types of street artists and musicians. There was a funny little man playing a violin to the tunes of traditional Chinese ceremonial music, a guy dressed as the Tin man from the Wizard of Oz, Jamaican drums and DJ’s… all of that spread out along the pier so that you’re always surrounded by music. A walk down the very colorful Market Street cannot be missed. I even ran into a nude protest, something I didn’t even know people did anymore. It’s definitely a city that has fun.
The bad thing about San Francisco is that it’s become very expensive since the online boom. Companies like Google and Twitter have offices either in or near the city and house the employees in the surrounding apartments, which has caused real estate prices to soar. A two-bedroom apartment rents at 3,000 dollars a month.
A must-see, of course, is the famous Golden Gate Bridge, which isn’t golden at all but ‘international orange’. The color blends very well with the surrounding hills that turn golden with the sun, which serve as gates that lead to and from the deep blue ocean. The ‘international orange’ color was supposed to be a primer, but the people of San Francisco decided to keep it because it matched perfectly.
Golden Gate Bridge
After getting to know the city I got to walk around Miur Woods, which is something worth seeing. It’s a green, mossy, wet and silent forest with enormous ancient redwood trees with trunks three times my length that look down upon you from the sky, blocking the clouds and shading the entire forest floor. We took a three-mile hike around the woods, and I felt how breathing the clean, pure, mossy air cleaned my lungs from the inside out.
Me walking through Miur Woods
After Miur Woods we went to Sonoma for some wine tours. We visited Mayo, Madonna and Cline. The wines were overall very strong but also good. We drank Merlot, Cabernet and Zinfandel red wines and some sparkling white wine from Mayo that has won awards. The grapes used for the wine were grown in Napa Valley, and it was interesting to check out the whole process of creating grape juice into wine. They put the grapes into these big metal machines to churn them and do other things and then they put the juice into wooden barrels to ferment for about a year and a half. These barrels affect the wine’s flavor, but after four or five years the wood’s flavor sort of runs out and the barrel becomes ‘flavor-neutral’. So if you’re into wine there’s a little cool fact to note. The lands in Sonoma were filled with hills and prairies and grape trees were planted everywhere. The houses were pretty and painted with pastels colors. It was very rural, lovely and quaint.
Finally, we went to Yosemite, which is about 3.5 hours from San Francisco City. What can I say about Yosemite? You always see it in postcards, but seeing those huge rocks in the flesh literally takes your breath away. We saw El Capitan and Yosemite Falls, since we could only stay there one day and one night. The boulders were so huge you felt like a tiny insignificant creature next to them. You could almost hear them silently vibrating, resonating with the frequency of the world, if that makes any sense. During the night we ice-skated in Curry Village under a starry sky.
I would definitely go back to all these places. Getting to know San Francisco and its surrounding areas was a wonderful experience, and I remember it being so colorful in all ways and so much fun. Recommended to all those travel-lovers out there who haven’t yet visited the Californian west coast.