San Francisco – Making friends when travelling solo

Song recommendation: San Francisco – The Mowgli’s

Sorry mum, sorry dad, I met up with some people off the internet.

The fog rose up before me, engulfing the city out across the bay. I watched the roll of the mist cover the bridge. I felt a chill across my back. I turned, dwarfed by the prison above. I was standing on Alcatraz island, where some of the worst criminals in America had once been housed. It seemed that their haunting presence had never left.

As soon as I had arrived in San Francisco, on the advice of a pal back home I had made my way down to the pier, and boarded the first ferry to Alcatraz.

We made our way out across the water and I noticed a giant suspension bridge out in the distance. A giant grey bridge, I was confused. Did they paint the golden gate bridge? Was it only red on one side? Furious that someone had ruined my trip by painting the bridge I so desperately wanted to take photos of, I pulled out my phone.

I went on to search some stupid things like ‘did they paint the golden gate bridge’, ‘is the golden gate bridge grey on one side’, then ‘is there another bridge in San Francisco’, looking back I probably should have figured that one out much sooner. For all of you who don’t know, yes there is more than one bridge in San Francisco, and no, they did not paint the Golden gate bridge.

Being a world traveller, who loves meeting people and all that nonsense, I’d booked a stay in a four bed room in a hostel. Not my finest moment. Anyway, generally it was fine. But when I woke to my alarm for a 0620 trip to Yosemite I felt like a bit of an asshole.

Anyway I walked to the pick-up spot and waited, and waited, and bloody half a day (like half an hour) later a small group of us were finally picked up. Our small group of ten, joined the other 31 tourists on a small bus with a guy who played annoying ‘good morning’ music over the loud speakers.

I tried to make a bit of conversation with the guy next to me, but he didn’t seem too chatty. I later found out he was ‘blazed’ after eating some edibles prior to leaving (edible marijuana). Thus we pretty much sat in silence for the next three hours. On the way back we actually talked quite a bit. He actually had a pretty dark story to tell about what had happened recently with his family, and the conversation ended up getting pretty deep.

Yosemite was amazing, the views were some of the best I’d ever seen.

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It was a long trip back, and we stopped to take some photos of the city at night. Where I was standing to take the photo below was where I got the shit scared out of me by a wild raccoon.

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I was pretty tired the next day and so had a lazy morning catching up on washing.

Now it can get a bit lonely travelling, so I fired up the Couchsurfing App. The Couchsurfing App is traditionally what people use to find hosts to stay with when they’re travelling, however it does have another function. On the app there is a ‘hangout’ feature, where you can meet up with other travellers/locals for beer/food/etc.

I joined a ‘hangout’ of a few locals, an Australian, and a Polish girl (don’t worry you can see references about whether they’re a super weirdo or not, which is probably safer than meeting randoms in real life anyway), and we met up at a pub for drinks and pool. I didn’t stay the whole night, but it was an interesting group of people, and was pretty fun. I learnt some of the American rules for pool, and did a hilariously bad job at a pool break.

The next day I’d planned to see the actual golden gate bridge, not the knock off grey one. I had some technical difficulties with my computer, and so I was trying to fix it in the hostel lounge. As I was sitting there a girl came in asking where the bathroom was. Funnily enough this was the trigger for the next adventure (no i’m not a super creep, please read on). After I removed my earphones to ask a a guy what she had said, we got talking and ended up catching an Uber out to the bridge.

My dreams of yelling ‘meanwhile in San Francisco’, and yelling ‘go go go’ had been realized (watch ‘The room’ in a cinema near you).

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Afterwards we headed down to Fisherman’s wharf, where we grabbed in-and-out burger and had a look around. The wharf even has its own sea lion colony.

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On my last day in the city I met up with some friends of my parents (Michael and Therese, and their son Andrew). Michael happened to have a private pilots license and was more than willing to take me up in a small plane for a flight over San Francisco. The flight was amazing!

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Then we went for In-n-out burger (again), it was one of those awkward moments where I was taken there because it was something I ‘had to try’ in California because it was so amazing. I didn’t have the heart to say that I’d already had it twice, and that I didn’t think it was that great. So I decided to order like a local, and got the same as Michael, and this time it was actually was really good. The good old lie of omission (sorry if you guys ever read this 🙂 ).

We then headed up to Mount Diablo for some stellar views of the Bay area, before heading to dinner at a great Mexican restaurant.

I went back to the hostel, had another poor nights sleep, and then woke early for the flight to the wet and dreary Portland.

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