San Francisco Expectations vs. Reality
Before Going to SF
I have always imagined San Francisco as this tech hub of nerds and good food. I expected to see people out on the streets with chill clothing and the latest technology. Lastly, I thought of sunny skies with all-year round moderate weather, somewhere around 20 degrees celcius.
Actually Being at SF
Prior to going, I was told that there were areas of high crime and danger, but what I never would have expected is the high number of homeless, wandering around on the streets. My hotel was dangerously near Union Square, and the first night there, coming out of the Cheesecake Factory on Macys was a woman with a cat on her head, hiding out in the corner of the building. I visited San Francisco for a total of 5 days, but I felt this pit in my heart everywhere that I walked for the first 3 (unless I was near the marina area which was very nice), thinking I was going to get robbed or that there will be some sort of drug left in my food. I know that the people on the streets are merely harmless, but being there for the first time is quite the shocker. When visiting, remember to stay safe!
Now onto the food. I had some of the best burritos in my entire life (which hasn’t been very long, but still) in San Francisco. I would highly recommend Tacorea and their California Burrito because whoever thought of putting tater tots in burritos needs a round of applause. On the left you’ll see me with a burrito I got somewhere on Mission St. that was actually bigger than my head and I honestly have not seen a burrito like this back in Toronto (if you know of a good burrito place in DT Toronto, please hmu ).
NOW let us talk about this weather. I knew that it was not going to be the warmest place in California so I came, fully prepared with long sleeves and jackets. Except even that wasn’t enough. Being in the city, I learned to brace myself for two things: 1. the steep hills that are actually everywhere, and 2. the wind. Under the shade vs. under the sun across the street are two completely different temperatures and I’ve never thought a 5 kilometer difference in distance would impact 10 degrees in weather. Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge in August, under a thick hoodie and leggings, yet still freezing to death was not something that I expected. Regardless, the experience of just being able to see and walk on the bridge was absolutely wonderful (there was even a whale when we went!).
Next, we have the transit system. There were so many different systems running in the SF area making getting anywhere so much more confusing. DEFINITELY WOULD RECOMMEND A CLIPPER CARD if you don’t have spare change all time because having a different card for each system is just messy and confusing. The BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) System made absolutely zero sense to me when I got down to the station having not even looked at a route map prior. After taking it a couple of time, I actually have a pretty deep appreciation for the speediness of BART and the convience of the system, having all the trains come onto one station. Not gotta lie though, I thought the seats were really strange and felt like sitting on stiff plastic bags. Buses on the other hand were quite interesting. I got on the bus once to go to the Presidio area, the bus happened to pass by Chinatown and for two stops, the bus was PACKED with Asian grandmas and grandpas going to get groceries at Chintown, and afterwards, the bus became aboslutley desserted. I, myself am Asian, and I found the social pattern hilarious.
On the topic on Chinatown, there was this one shopping experience to be remembered. I didn’t know that this was how things were sold, but my parents and I were simply trying to buy some bananas at a booth. They were, let’s say 59 cents a lb, and you would think the sales person would bring it to a scale and weight it, right? Nope, she just held it in her hands and started approximating and went “yeah, about $1.50”. Even in China, I don’t think I’ve seen that happen. Interesting is the only word that I can think of to describe it.
The people on the streets were not quite what I was expecting. They weren’t the nerds with glasses that I always thought people in San Francisco were like. I know that it’s technically not the Valley, but to an outsider, there’s just so much correlation between the two. The weather was not the sunny, yet cool weather that I was expecting, but I sure can get used to it. The culture is quite something new and I find there is this edginess to the city.
Definitely pay a visit and find out for yourself how the city really is like. I had such high expectations prior to going, but first sight brought the expectations below ground zero. Slowly, I began seeing the small little things that people love about San Francisco and I can feel myself slowly falling in love with the city. I hope to be back some time and truly explore and know the city like a local.