In every traveler’s life, there is always that one place that sparked their interest to see more of the world. Where they discovered that unrelenting feeling of desire to conquer what is outside their comfort zones. Of which ignited their lust to gallivant that couldn’t have happened anywhere else. I have been a traveler for sometime now and my adventure started in the lovely city of San Francisco, California.
I traveled alone for the first time and chose San Francisco as my destination. Having gone there the previous year with my father, I knew I was familiar with it enough to not become easily intimidated with everything while at the same time carrying with me so much excitement in being able to visit a foreign land. The seemingly safe surroundings and efficiency of the public transport plus the free lodging from kindhearted relatives and friends were big draws to me as well. Being young and sort of naive, I of course wanted to remain in a safe environment even while going on an ambitious, no-care-to-the-world kind of an adventure.
It was in San Francisco where I started my habit of touring the city by means of walking. Boasting of perfect yearlong weather makes it ideal for any tourist or local to forgo the use of an automobile to walk or enjoy riding old cable cars with opened windows instead. And with so many recreational parks scattered across the city, it becomes such a nice place to laze around and practically do nothing.
Ask me where the best museums are and I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you. For it was in San Francisco where I grew the habit of trying to live as a local for the time being and skipping the more touristy activities. What you have to see in San Francisco you will see no matter what so I never fussed-over what I should have and shouldn’t have seen. My tip for those who wish to get a glimpse of Sanfo before visiting it is to watch movies such as The Princess Diaries, Just Like Heaven and The Rock.
California in general is a very nice place to visit. Aside from San Francisco, I’ve also gone to other cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and perhaps my most favourite city there, Carmel. Besides having so many interesting things to do and see, the ease of travel from one place to the other is what many backpackers would find attractive. Not to mention, other exciting destinations in nearby states are also easy to get to (Las Vegas is just a hop skip away). This is where I experienced my first train ride from the airport. This is where I’ve first experienced memorizing the number codes of city buses. And this is where I’ve taken my first ever 18-hour bus ride. Imagine that.
It became a habit of mine to yearly visit San Francisco until I decided to move to the country just above the US. I’ve racked-up so many frequent flyer miles at that time so much so that during one year, I gained enough points to be allowed to travel back to the US for free. And although every trip topped the last, whenever I would look back, I sometimes wound-up thinking that I should have perhaps widened my horizon and went elsewhere instead. Not that I complain so much but having now explored countries nearer my place of birth, I realized that there are much more interesting sights to see nearby (hello, Angkor Wat). But having gone back and forth also made me appreciate the value of slow travel. Many backpackers I know would eagerly tire themselves in covering 10 tourist spots in 4 days while I choose to spend 1 month just hanging-out and occasionally sightseeing. Because of this kind of tripping, I’ve learned to give importance to the opportunity to get to know the place that I’m visiting by way of experiencing its day to day pace. Away from the usual tourist traps and into the streets with the rest of the locals. Many find this weird. I don’t.
In general, I wouldn’t recommend San Francisco for newbie backpackers. Like I said one reason it was very attractive to me was because of the free lodging. Without that I wouldn’t have been able to survive. The prices of anything and everything over there is definitely higher compared to other exciting backpacking destinations. And if you are an adventurer who is looking for a more adrenaline packed kind of an activity or you are more into the rustic and exotic, for the love of god, avoid going to San Francisco.
But of course, Sanfo for me will always remain to be a memorable place. I vow to continue visiting it so I may never forget that lazing around is the best part of traveling.