November 16 2012, my first day as a solo traveller and my first day in the United States of America!
I arrived around 11am, and after spending a considerable amount of time working out how to get to the BART station (Bay Area Rapid Transit) I finally found it and rode it all the way to the city. The thing about catching public transport for the first time in a city you have never been to, is that you are constantly on edge waiting for your stop. There is always a map near the door but as those are not to scale, stations that are minute from each other look similar to stations that are 10 minutes apart. If you dear reader have ever caught the BART from SFO to Powell St you will know it’s about 40 minutes, I knew this but as I was so tired I was petrified that I might accidently fall asleep and wake up at the end of the line.
I eventually arrived at Powell St, then dragged my luggage up the escalator, through the tiny gates only meant for a single person –not all her belongings. Then I reached the piazza out the front of Powell Station, this piazza is about two stories below street level accessed by two stair cases, a broken escalator and an eternally broken lift. So once again I had to heave my luggage up two flights of stairs. Finally up the top I had to walk towards Ellis St which was to the east of the station but I had no bearings at all (and it was an overcast day), I had printed out a small map and tried to orientate myself as best I could, I did eventually navigate myself to my hostel, checked in and settled in.
After I settled in I decided to go for a walk and try to find something to eat. However I walked straight into the Tenderloin. If you have been to San Francisco you may have noticed all the homeless people around, they are hard to miss. I had never seen so many homeless people in my life and they were all calling out things from their spot on the street. Well, the tenderloin is their headquarters; and there I was a fresh faced Aussie just wondering around getting more and more scared. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be there and they knew it too, one of them actually said so! I got back to my hostel quick smart and took refuge.
My first little adventure as a solo traveller had gone horribly bad! I lay on my bunk and cried (I get over emotional when I tired) thinking ‘What am I doing?’ ‘why did I think I can do this by myself’ and worst of all ‘I have to do this for the next three months’. I fell asleep.
When I woke up I messaged a friend that was living in SF for the year. He made me realise my mistake and that SF was actually great just not that area. I decided to brave the world again, because I was still very hungry. This time I walked up Market Street which has all the shops along it. It was beautiful and that is when I fell in love with San Francisco, even though I was a bit scared I was already laughing about my little adventure.
Georgie’s tips for losing your San Francisco virginity:
- Catch the BART from SFO ($8.25 one way) because it is so much cheaper than a taxi. There’s a taxi rank out the front of Powell st if you hotel/hostel isn’t close.
- After you check-in and settle in go straight to Union Square. There are good parts and bad parts of other shopping streets but Union Square is all lovely.
- When you have that just-got-off-a-long-fight feel about you, you do not want to search for food. So go to the Cheesecake factory at the top of Macy’s. It’s easy, central and has amazing views of Union Square.
|Union Square from the Cheesecake Factory atop Macy's|