I recently came back from a five day trip to San Francisco and I am by no means a traveling expert. In fact this was the first time I left the state without my parents hovering ( though it could be because I went with my sister and cousin). Nevertheless, I still learned a bit more while on this getaway. It’s nothing life changing, I think I need to be gone longer than five days for that to happen. Anyway here are the things I’ve learned.
1) I hate bus tours!
Or maybe they’re just not for me, but personally I hated having to take the tour bus. I objected taking it the first day we arrived, but…majority rules. It wasn’t all that bad but you really don’t learn a thing about the city and they move at a snails pace. On the other hand, it’s impossible to get a good picture because the bus has to move. The tour guides are rarely informative and the microphones they use are really bad sound quality so I’m slightly irritated trying to figure out what they’re saying without blowing out my ear drums. The buses also take forever to make a full tour around because they take the long routs and have fewer stops than a standard public bus.
2) San Francisco weather is very confusing!
When I first arrived, I was shocked at how windy the city is. Really, I don’t understand why Chicago takes the medal for “the windy city”. Chicago is nothing compared to the wind in San Francisco. The wind generally only happens when you’re near the ocean, but a lot of what you will be doing will be near the ocean. Someone explained it’s because San Francisco gets the wind from Alaska and the wind from the South mixing together to make this everlasting breeze. If you like to wear your hair down, I recommend you wear a bun or ponytail because the wind is very unforgiving and will constantly blow in your face. Also, dress in layers. It doesn’t get that cold (Chicago can be much colder), but it doesn’t get warm enough for say, shorts or dresses. One minute you could be cold and the next minute, you are sweating bullets. It all depends on where your standing. The more away from the ocean you travel, the warmer it will get. Overall, pack a cozy sweater that you can take on and off oh and jeans and/or warm leggings will get you far.
3) You are stronger than you think
I know, the ultimate cliche but believe me, cliches are cliches because for the most part, they are true! Let me explain…
A quick recap about myself. For all of my life, I believed I was a frail girl. Not because I was a girl (obviously) but because I am very small, have a lot of allergies, I have a really sensitive stomach and sports were never fun for me. Whenever we jogged in the park during gym class, I always had to be escorted back due to my allergic reactions. As I got older (and experienced many anaphylactic reactions) I caught on that I am not allergic to nature (except for the common, but not life threatening, hay fever) but the more severe reactions were due to the poisonous chemicals people put in their landscapes. Nevertheless, I was still subconsciously skeptical and avoided doing anything that would put me at risk. The lazy girl I am, I just label myself as “frail” and be done with it…I’m such a fool!
NOTE: So I started explaining this story that gave me this new outlook on my life but realized I need to make a separate blog post about this event. The story is longer than anticipated and I will post a link here that explains the whole story if you are interested.
This trip in the woods really tested my limits and proved to me that I am not as weak or fragile I originally believed myself to be. I wouldn’t say this was the first time I hit this moment of realization though. I have had this small thought in the back of my head that reminded me why my thoughts of myself are wrong, but I never gave myself the chance to prove otherwise.
On another note, This hike really stripped me down and broke apart all the layers I put on for people. If you could see my face, it was as imperfect as I could possibly see myself. Metaphorically and physically all my flaws were shining through. Every last part of me was covered in dirt, sweat and my clothes were a horrific mess. I was vulnerable, but still not weak.
Despite all the pain this hike inflicted on me, it wasn’t the most miserable moment of my life. In fact, it was the opposite. Each step was in a way liberating and I somehow felt a sense of relief. The harder the climb in the forest got for me, the closer I got to knowing just how strong I really was. I admit I broke down several times during this hike, but I didn’t stop moving. With a little help, I chose to keep moving forward and embrace the good and bad I was feeling.
4) You don’t have to do dangerous stuff to live life to the fullest
Movies love to make things appear over the top and send this sort of inaccurate message about living. Think of any movie that follows the story line where someone has so much time to live and needs to live their life to the max. Generally, the protagonist ends up doing weird and crazy stuff like skydiving, cliff diving or bungee jumping. While spending my time in San Francisco, I didn’t really do anything extreme or dangerous. Maybe that trip to the woods, but even I wouldn’t consider it reckless in any way. Enlightening, yes but not dangerous. Nevertheless, I felt like I was closer to life than I have ever been before. It wasn’t because I did anything special, it was because I made my own choices with no worries about the future. I lived every day in the present and for once, the future didn’t scare me.
I learned a lot on this trip to San Francisco, but I would say that these are the four most important things that I’ve reflected on the most while spending my time in the city. I am very lucky and grateful to have the opportunity to travel. I hope I have more chances to travel (hopefully out of the country!) so I could come back here and talk all about it. Thanks for listening. If you want, you are more than welcome to share with me anything you have learned on your past trips.