Feeling free in San Francisco

“If you’re going to San Francisco…”

The song was stuck in my head from the moment I picked up my boarding pass at the airport until, well, until the day I left San Francisco to continue my journey through California.

I had replaced my suitcase with a large backpack – which, at one point, seemed like a good idea before realizing that my hotel was on top of one of the city’s many steep hills. I took a deep breath. “Let’s do this” I said, trying to convince myself that it would all be over soon. Walking up that hill felt like climbing a mountain with a backpack full of rocks. Times like these make me wish that I hadn’t let my gym membership go to waste.

Sweaty and disgusting, I checked into the hotel. A small, old-fashioned and kind of run-down hotel close to Chinatown. Not exactly a sophisticated choice, but I wasn’t planning on spending much time in the room anyway, so it didn’t matter.

After a good night’s rest, I was ready to check out the tourist sites. Strolling along the famous Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood was a great way to start the day and the fresh breeze sure felt good on my face.

I bought a few postcards from a souvenir shop, and went to the nearest Starbucks to sit down and write to my family back home in Europe. It was early in the morning, and most stores and restaurants were still closed. On my way to the Fisherman’s Wharf, I’d seen a group of people doing yoga in the park, and others practicing martial arts. I found it to be very fascinating. Mainly because I’m envious of anyone who manage to be productive in the morning. And I’m envious of Californians for simply just being Californian.

I wanted to see the Golden Gate bridge, so I booked a tour with the City Sightseeing Official Tours. While on the sightseeing bus, I spent a lot of time talking to two friendly guys from out-of-state, who were either friends or a couple or – whatever, I really didn’t know. They asked me if I liked chocolate. What a silly question. I adore chocolate. “You have to go to Ghirardelli Square and buy some chocolate then” one of them said. As soon as we got off the bus, I did exactly that. And they were right – the Ghirardelli chocolate was delicious!

After an evening of spoiling myself with amazing chocolate, I was ready to enjoy the beautiful San Francisco Botanical Garden while soaking up the Californian sun and letting the November wind cool me down at the same time. San Francisco brought out my inner nature’s child. I was mindful. Content. And I was starting to get hungry for some tasty veggie food. I found a lovely vegetarian restaurant called Ananda Fuara, where I enjoyed a healthy, delicious lunch and a not-so-healthy but amazingly good dessert.

Later that evening I joined a fellow European for a drink and celebrated the freedom of backpacking through California – the freedom of living in the moment in San Francisco.

Written by Kristene Irene

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