Studying on the east coast meant that I hadn’t really considered the west coast of the USA as a viable travelling option. That is until two of my friends from Birmingham decided to meet up in San Francisco and I wanted to be part of the action. A case of FOMO you might say. I booked my flights and as easy as that I was going to San Francisco for three days to see my friends and explore the more of the USA.
I’m not going to lie, I expected it to be warm. I expected it to be so warm that I even considered not taking a coat. Luckily for me there was a winter storm the day before my trip so I had no choice but to wear my coat on the trip to the airport. The snow storm caused me stress, but it did make me take my coat to SF which I am very grateful for.
My flight was delayed by one hour, which to be quite honest didn’t really effect me that much. A tiny man announced that the flight wasn’t going to arrive for another fifty minutes and I continued to sit on the floor and read my book. Did it bother anyone else? Probably, at least 70 people stood around me complaining and queueing for a plane that hadn’t even arrived yet. I was just grateful a plane was arriving and hadn’t been cancelled because of the snow.
We landed in San Francisco around 9pm and I was immediately impressed. Full offence to the New York airports, San Francisco International was so nice I had to stand in the middle and admire it for about thirty seconds. My time in the USA had taught me that airports in this country just aren’t nice, that is until I saw what SF had to show me. The airport had art exhibitions, libraries, fancy shops and even a yoga room. The last thing I want to do before and after a flight is yoga, but it’s still exciting that it exists.
My friends landed around 90 minutes after I did and trying to find each other in an airport that has five terminals was a struggle but eventually we reunited and ended up going to bed around 1am, also known as 4am to my body.
Was three days enough time in San Francisco? Probably not, on Friday we explored Alcatraz and Golden Gate Park. Alcatraz was both fascinating and depressing. I have a sick fascination with institutionalisation and imprisonment, but the thought of being trapped on an island where life is only a bay away? No thanks you. Golden Gate Park was a magical place. As big as Central Park, it looked so mystical I’m convinced fairies live there. If fairies existed. We saw the sunset fall on the trees and then we headed to sleep – we were all exhausted.
Golden Gate Park wasn’t all fun and games though, I’d been in the city less than 24 hours before I injured myself. I spent about 12 hours thinking I’d broken my fingers on a broken swing. Although my fingers still hurt, I’m pretty sure they aren’t broken. I’m still not sure if I’m more relieved about having unbroken fingers or escaping the American medical system. I don’t know how health insurance works, I have it but I don’t know how to navigate this world so just get universal health care USA, please I beg you.
On Saturday, we found more friends and a group of three turned into a group of nine. We explored the gay village of SF, stared at the Golden Gate Bridge, walked around Pier 39 and found sea lions, ate ice cream in Ghirardelli Square, and experienced SF’s night life. It was probably the longest, but most exciting and fun, day I’ve ever experienced in the US.
We also attempted to watch the sunset at the beach. I say attempt because the fog came down and the sun wasn’t viable at all. It was also really windy and bitter cold, the Californian sunset experience was not what it’s described as in books.
Sunday was spent exploring Lombard Street and China Town. China Town provided me with many vegetables and I was grateful.
I flew back Sunday night, arriving into NYC at 5am feeling pretty much like death. I can’t sleep on planes but I keep putting myself on night flights regardless.
Another thing that I really enjoyed about the weekend? The domestic flight. I didn’t have to wait in a two hour queue in customs and contemplate my existence on the planet and for that I ultimately grateful. San Francisco’s public transport was very expensive however, so my time with transport wasn’t all fun and games, especially to my bank account.
And there’s my favourite weekend in the United States. I saw my friends and future housemates, I met some wonderful people, and travelled to a new city across the country. Was the tiredness during my Monday night class worth it? Absolutely.