As a person growing up in Toronto, where our beaches in the city are less than stellar, I’ve always dreamt of visiting places like California. The Pacific Ocean crashing against the rocks, making for picturesque moments. I never thought in a million years that I’d ever be able to actually travel there. Landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge influenced my childhood, namely being part of the opening credits of the television show, Full House. So when I got the opportunity to jet there for my birthday, I took it (as anyone would).
I was fortunate enough to have a travel credit and promo code from Westjet, which I received when my mom broke her leg whilst being in New York. We were unable to fly back home, forfeiting our outbound tickets. Westjet was a stand up airline and gave me a large portion of my ticket back, as well as a 20% coupon towards any future flight. This, coupled with a seat sale that I learned about through a travel forum, ensured I was able to snatch up a round-trip flight to San Francisco for under $300. Do you blame me for booking it IMMEDIATELY?!
Upon arrival, I was to stay at the HI San Francisco Hostel, downtown location. I’ve stayed in hostels before, but never in the U.S. I was a bit hesitant to stay there, even after reading reviews. The rest of my time there I would be Couchsurfing. If you’re unfamiliar with Couchsurfing it may sound a bit crazy. You sign up on the website, search around for potential people to “host you,” (which really just means you’re staying at their house), and once you find someone whose profile sticks with you (whether based on what they’ve written or references from other users), you send them a request.
Each Couchsurfing experience is completely different. Some hosts like to be actively involved in your travel, taking you to different sights and local restaurants/bars. Others like to be hands off and perhaps give you a key to their place where you can come and go as you please. I prefer a mixture of both. I enjoy having long conversations with people, learning about where they’ve been and what they have to offer, while getting a taste for local hot spots and funky, underground venues… But I do also like to do my own thing and maybe meet up with other people.
My 2nd flight was unfortunately delayed. I didn’t arrive at SFO until almost 11:30, which meant that by the time I would have arrived at the hostel, I wouldn’t have been able to check in since I hadn’t arranged that with them prior to landing. Obviously I had no idea I would be delayed that long, but I should have been more prepared, so that was definitely my fault. I debated against booking any hotel that had space available or just sleeping in the airport until morning. I had done it before in the Bangkok airport, and although uncomfortable, it wasn’t unbearable.
Luckily I had unlimited data (thanks Rogers!) so I browsed Couchsurfing and made a post asking if anyone could possibly host me on such short notice, just for the night, as I was stranded in the airport. A girl replied saying she too was in the same situation. We met up in the baggage area and began my first San Francisco adventure.
Cecilia and I went to pick up her rental car. She was heading to Lake Tahoe in the afternoon to Couchsurf. We had no idea where to go, what to do, if there WAS anything to do. It was so unlike me to trust someone so quickly and just get into their car. We drove to Twin Peaks but the fog was far too thick to see anything. Because of the elevation, we both got a bit freaked out by the lack of visibility. We ended up finding a residential street, parked, and fell asleep for a few hours with the idea that we’d wake up and see the sunrise. Wrong. San Francisco isn’t called “Fog City” for no reason.
Breakfast was based on Yelp reviews and proximity to our current location. La Boulange. I had a hazelnut latte with almond milk and their breakfast meal, which included 2 eggs, toast, home fries, and your choice of bacon or sausages. Delicious!
With Saturday being her only day in San Francisco, Cecilia wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge. We drove through the Presidio and to Baker’s Beach. It wasn’t exactly beach weather, but in San Francisco, is it ever really?
The fog began to clear up, and after a couple of hours of walking around and conversation, Cecilia was kind enough to drop me off at Everlasting Tattoo, where I had an appointment with Olivia Olivier.