Work & Travel California 2016

San Francisco

During our time in California we were trying to see as many places as we could. San Francisco was first on our list. Too bad I couldn’t come back there with my camera, but at least now I have a pretty good reason. This time we went by a house on wheels – an oldschol volkswagen van which belonged to our dear friend Jason.

Very often we used to go out to “the benches” opposite to La Bahia where we were drinking a lot of lemonade and smoking funny cigarettes with work&travel crew and some locals. One time I’ve met this American and got into a conversation him like we knew each other for years. In the beginning he was trying to get me a job in a restaurant where he was working. Than we started to go surfing together and he taught me how not to be a cook. Jason was one of many people who was temporary living in his van. He doesn’t like processed food, stupid people and when they garbage. He likes nature, playing the guitar and he loves his dog. We decided to go on our first trip (but not the last!) by his van.

Daria, Marina from Serbia and Justin from LA went with us on our 2 days stay in SF. We took a little bit longer way (highway 1) on purpose. I really appreciated moment when I was listening to Red Hot Chilli Peppers, drinking beer and admiring views through the windshield.

After over an hour I’ve noticed some building on the heels. We still didn’t know where we were going exactly, but I had one particular place on my mind. It took us about 2 minutes to convince Jason to drive over Golden Gate. Well, he has never done it by his VAN so it was a perfect opportunity. When we were going there I was watching colorful houses perfectly leveled on the steam road. When we were passing crossroads I wasn’t sure which way I should look to catch all those hilly streets in the distance. Suddenly we saw a little piece of red bridge. We were pretty excited that we were going to see one of California icons.

Finally there it is… red, stunning, HUGE… Me, Daria and Marina are starting to scream like we are little children. It’s a nice, sunny day (not so typical for Bay Area) and we are driving over Golden Gate by such a cool van. Next thing we see is a stunning San Francisco Panorama.

You know what? I discovered that it’s awesome to see a new city from a car. Several years ago we drove into Budapest. Suddenly we saw more and more buildings, bridges and sculptures through the windshield. It was so emotional and felt similar to this day in SF. I just looked at Daria and she already knew what I was thinking. Yes, the firsts are definitely the best!

We went to the other side and made a tour around the neighborhood. The houses were nice and this view… whole panorama and Golden Gate behind their windows. We drove back and parked a car. This time we wanted to walk the red bridge…

After taking plenty of selfies we headed to the city. It wasn’t easy for an old van to get there through all those hills but it was pretty cool to drive in San Francisco! Finally we parked our car but had to move it often not to pay for a parking. But we got a chance to try famous sesame chicken in China Town, make a picture on Lombard Street and watch an epic sunset on the top of Twin Peaks. We spend a night at Justin’s friend’s house. We were trying to find a party on Mission Street for all evening, but apparently there wasn’t any on Tuesday. In the end we found nice latin live music, but at 1:30 – kaput…

Twin Peaks

The next day we decided to leave a car on free parking and went to the city by local metro – Bart. No car? No problem. We got off on Powell st. where famous Cable car’s track starts. From this time we’ve been walking all day.

Union Square

Before we went to SF I had prepared my own list of things to see and do in the city. The day before we already have done some things but I still wanted to visit Fortune Cookie Factory,  Bella Vista, walk along Crissy Field and walk into any roof of San Francisco building. So me and Jason were on a mission on our way to Fishersman wharf, when girls took care about their staff.

-Jason, we HAVE to get into a roof. I’m not gonna pay any money or wait in the lines.
-Okay, but how are we gonna do that? All those building are residential or hotels.
-Well, I don’t know we could use fire escapes?
-Natalia, all those buildings have fire escapes starting from 1 floor and you probably can’t climb on it and just get into someone’s balcony – my friend wasn’t pessimistic  but realistic.
-You’re right, we should just get inside, go upstairs and check if we can get into a roof. Let’s go here- I followed 2 man who were just entering the doors.
-This is a hotel, N. What are you gonna tel them at the reception?
-I don’t know Jason! I will improvise! Maybe they won’t notice us.

-Excuse me, where are you going? – my epic plan was ruined by an old chinese lady who was working in this exclusive hotel.
-We… are going… upstairs! – I didn’t know what to say.
-Why so? –  I saw a little spark in her eye so I decided to risk and simply not lie.
-Oh, I just wanted to see this amazing view! – I admitted.
-No problem! Let me guide you! – my hero answered.

Jason was speechless, ha! She’s gonna guide us! When we were in elevator the lady told us that this building was designed by famous architect – Julia Morgan. A lot of architecture students come there often to visit the property, so she wasn’t really surprised when I’ve asked. We went out from the elevator and there was door which chinese lady opened with a key.
-Go ahead- she said and I realised that we were on the roof. I didn’t expect THAT! There were colorful buildings on the left, Alcatraz Island in the distance and modern downtown on the right. Honestly this lady made my day!

If anyone ever wanted to go there here is an address: YWCA Residence, 940 Powell Street, San Francisco.

Jason said that he never went on any SF building’s roof. After this we found girls and bought some fortune cookies in Fortune Cookie factory in China town alley, walk along Lombard Street, drink delicious coffee in Bella Vista, listen to live music and try oysters in Jacks Cannery Bar (for me – gross). We walked A LOT so the pain in our legs told us it was the end of our little trip.

The most surprising for me in this city were people. The way they looked in characteristic clothes, showing their style, didn’t care what other people think at all and were so open about their sexuality. We could see it in less commercial places and bars. The second thing which I didn’t expect it was the temperature. Bay area is usually quite cold and windy. Yeah, windy and there is also a kite spot next to the Golden Gate, so I have to kitesurf there. Probably next year :).

I visited San Francisco 2 more times – to watch Giants baseball game so I’ve learned all the rules and saw how the game was emotional for americans.  And also once to hang out with Mike and Marina. It was very foggy but we walked along Crissy field and I saw some kitesurfers in the water. This spot is really demanding. We also had pizza around Haight-Ashburry – a hippy neighborhood.

All those places are worth to see so if you go there anytime, I recommend to see it, especially when you don’t want to spend much money!