I just returned from a trip to sunny California - San Francisco to be exact. Even though it's been about 15 years since my last visit, something about it still feels like home. . . maybe it's the sunshine, the crisp ocean breezes, the early morning mist, the fog that rises up over the Bay, the rocky, windy coastal highway, and the way strangers engage in conversation at the moment you're seeking conversation instead of being intrusive. Somehow, you feel less alone.
I've heard it said many times that "it's the light." The way the West Coast sun shines on things gives a different impression -- almost a glow -- in the way a person who is in love has a face that just beams brightly. San Francisco is a city in love, eager to share its joy with anyone who wants to belong.
The first four days of my visit were spent lodging along Fisherman's Wharf at the Fort Mason hostel. I know, I know... a hostel... "Aren't those just for young people?" "Don't you have to be a member?" "Aren't the rooms horrendous?" Well, no, not exactly. Technically, they're budget accommodations for those who travel. You get a bed, linens, breakfast every morning and free use of the kitchen to make your own meals if you choose. Sure, you share your room with 3-4 other people and the bathroom and showers are down the hall, but how can you beat $26 a night in San Francisco??! It's kinda like returning to the dorm days of college, only minus the keg parties and self-absorbed cliques. Even families with young kids make a go of it, and everyone respects each other's space and privacy, so it's a pretty nice arrangement. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that the social aspects made traveling solo feel less lonely. Check out the view of the Wharf from outside the back entrance:
Later in the week I ventured to the hostel at Union Square, which was quite a different experience. Instead of the ocean sounds of seagulls and foghorns to lull me awake each morning, there were busses and cars and "street people" and the light of a parking garage across the street to kept me awake all night. Ah, that's excitement for you. Nonetheless, considering the Hilton shared the same corner as my lowly hotel, I felt I got another bargain. All their guests walked out onto the same street every day as I did.
Once I get all of my photos uploaded and cropped, I'll have more to Blog about. . . the restaurants, Slow Food Nation conference, Slow Food Rocks concert, Green Gulch and SF Zen Center, Muir Woods, Sausalito, Muir Beach, the Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park. . . (sigh. . . ).