north america, Travel

SAN FRANCISCO

Unlike my other travels, I was alone in San Francisco. Well, I was visiting one of my best friends & going to Outside Lands with her. However, I was alone during the day while she was at work. There’s something to be said about exploring alone. I don’t think I’m well-versed enough on the topic yet, but I have a theory. When you’re in the mood to spontaneously explore a place–do it alone. If you’re in the mood to really chill, relax and just soak up the atmosphere–do it with your family. If you want to just have a good time and do a bunch of activities/road trip, go with a big group of people. Anyway, San Francisco was a perfect place to be alone.

I wanted to get a feel for the bay area to see if it’s somewhere I’d be interested in living. The verdict is that I would probably love living there, but it’s hella expensive. Like gentrification to a degree that I’m not comfortable with. It’s a topic of discussion for another place, but basically I have a bit of an issue living a place that is pushing out people living in a lower socioeconomic bracket. Possibly people and families who have lived there for decades. A show like Looking touches on it, but doesn’t really get into it. If you’re interested in what I mean, Rosianna pretty perfectly embodies my sentiments.
A photo posted by Madhu Singh (@younggrad) on Aug 8, 2014 at 6:03pm PDT
A photo posted by Madhu Singh (@younggrad) on Aug 9, 2014 at 8:16pm PDT
A video posted by Madhu Singh (@younggrad) on Aug 10, 2014 at 4:49pm PDT
A video posted by Madhu Singh (@younggrad) on Aug 10, 2014 at 9:44pm PDT
Anyway, we started off with the three days of Outside Lands (as shown in the Instagrams above). Overall, good music festival (The Killers were amazing and all that I dreamed for sure), but I prefer Austin City Limits. It’s really the crowd that makes a festival and if only 20% of the people seem to know most of the music from the band, that kinda kills the mood. The food and setting were really different and great though. We walked through woods and all interesting food stands (I can’t remember what specific foods now, but we ate some good pizza??).
In that weekend, we also visited the Stanford campus for a friend’s birthday party (and I loved Palo Alto. So clean & so beautiful during the summer). We took the Caltrain and it was so efficient, clean and easy to use. We bought tickets at the station super last minute and had no issues. Would do it again for SURE.
EATS: We had a brunch at Brenda’s that made me realize that I love French Soul food. Didn’t realize that was a thing I was interested in? But apparently it’s my JAM. The brunch at Nopa was also boss — so boss that I proceeded to try and recreate it when I returned to Austin. I wasn’t unsuccessful. Sorry I’m not one of those people that takes pictures of her food–would’ve come in handy for this probably.
A photo posted by Madhu Singh (@younggrad) on Aug 8, 2014 at 10:33am PDT
Then, I spent a day at work with my friend at the Airbnb office. Such an awesome office with awesome food. Not just sandwiches and whatnot, you know? Like quinoa, steel-cut oats, curry chicken and freshly-squeezed orange juice.
Most of these are from my walk around the Alamo Square/Buena Vista area—and basically my first non-Outside Lands taste of San Francisco. So far, I was liking it. I’m not sure what I was feeling exactly, but I just liked the weather and the people. Everyone was pretty nice. Only problem was that I didn’t feel safe being a woman walking alone in some parts–but that mostly happened at night.
I wanted to have an unofficial coffee tour of SF one day, so I did. I went to Bean Bag Coffee first because it was close to where I was living (which was close to the painted ladies!)—I got a Tuscany crepe and it was very good. The fries were good too but I shouldn’t have had them because I was SO SO full. Nice ambience–a bit loud though. I had to sit at the windows because felt awkward taking a 4 seater table just for myself. Not too comfortable (has this become a yelp review or something??)
The second shop I hit up is Oakside! So cute. I sat upstairs and got a great people-watching spot. Feels like a place I could become a “regular” at (I say as if I live in SF…). It has tons of paintings and decorations around the place and the wifi is fast. The upstairs seating is where it’s at for getting work done. Great neighborhood as well! I got the thai iced tea (I’m sort of an aficionado) and it was excellent. Extremely creamy yet still strong taste.
BONUS TIP: walking around SF on a really nice day is preferable. I didn’t even wear a cardigan today! shocking!
Cafe du Soleil was my last stop–I had dinner there and the people were definitely a bit older. It had a bit of a wine bar thing going on I feel? Maybe not. It was still pretty bright near the front, but not a good place to people watch. Oops.
The Sutro Baths / Land’s End walk was just something else. Even alone! It’s obviously a picturesque walk, even though I didn’t know if I should put my cardigan on or keep it off. It’s not an intense hike and you get to see so much. The Sutro baths, camera obscura, Golden Gate bridge and a beach! Then, I stumbled upon the Legion of Honor Museum (which is over there). I can’t remember if I planned on going, but I had time so it was all good.
The museum itself was nothing special–it was a European art museum. This sounds so horrible, but I’ve been to a lot of European art museums and this one just didn’t stand out. However, for those who haven’t visited Europe, I would recommend. It is aesthetically pleasing. The highlight of the whole thing was my really pleasant *and long* chat with the coat-check lady. An older Scottish woman who talked to me about her time on safari in India, Putin and other fascinating stories. The holocaust commemoration (pictured above) was also really chilling.
Don’t judge me, but I like the beat generation. There, I’ve said it. I can’t get enough of that Burroughs, Ginsberg and Kerouac. It started with a reading of Howl in my first semester of college and went on from there I guess. So, when I found out that SF was like the second home of the Beats, I had to find out their meeting places. Lo and behold–there was a museum! The museum was inexpensive and pretty interesting–it featured rare manuscripts and diary entries and letters. I spent a good chunk of time there and they had comfortable chairs, so they encouraged it. The bookstore was awesome too–I bought a Howl tote bag because I desperately needed one (my bag had broken) and I wanted a souvenir. I still get compliments on it! Seriously, the beat generation stuff might have been the highlight of my trip, though.
The city itself is so small and it’s hard for me to believe that. When you’re walking, you feel like you’ve spanned continents. You see tall buildings, cramped urban space, ocean, mountains, beaches, cliffs and large architectural things (bridges etc.) It’s magnificent and I haven’t seen any small city like it. Also the Mission area seems like a place I’d like. The picture of my friend & I was taken in Mission Dolores park.
 
A photo posted by Madhu Singh (@younggrad) on Aug 14, 2014 at 4:30pm PDT
The Palace of Fine Arts honestly wasn’t much. Just a cool place to meet someone & relax or catch up. It looks like something that should be in Europe, not San Francisco. But, maybe that’s the beauty of SF. It’s just an amalgam of architecture & museums & parks. It’s a beautiful mess of cultures. I’m pretty sure I’ll return!
NOT PICTURED: Two other coffee shops I visited. One was Reveille, which was totally my aesthetic. And the other was  Art Bistro, which was more of a comfy/homey catch-up-with-an-old-friend-for-hours coffee shop. Not one you go to alone or to work.
So, that’s San Francisco! I spent about a week there. After that, I went to visit my family in the rest of the bay area for a few days (hit up an awesome Farmer’s Market) and chilled out. Awesome transportation, weather, people, food, coffee and nature. Not awesome prices & safety-wise. But also not the worst–I have just lived in super safe environments I think.
Love,
Young Lion

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