DAY 1 IN SAN FRANCISCO: UBER-MATES, BISON, GRAFFITI & MORE

I’m really excited about this San Francisco trip. It’s my first time here since I took a trip with my dad when I was around 10 years old.

By the time I land, get my luggage, wait in a ridiculously long line to get my rental car, and drive into the city…I’m starving.

I go to the key drop across the street from the apartment I rented on Airbnb to find the key is not there. The plan was for me to get settled in the apartment, then find something to eat.

No key. So, I text my Airbnb host about the problem. We text back and forth a bit. Then, she goes silent for a few minutes.

I’m soooo hungry, so I grab a bite to eat at the market near the key drop.

As soon as I sit down to eat (oooooohhh…food looks so good), my Airbnb host calls to inform me she just sent an Uber driver to bring me the key. He will meet me outside in 5 minutes.

I grab my luggage, backpack, my dinner, and my drink to meet the driver outside. Somehow, I manage to eat as I walk.

Although it’s the end of July, it is freezing cold outside. I wasn’t expecting it to be so cold (and only packed a few warm clothes as a back up…another issue to resolve at a later time).

I just flew from my hometown of New Orleans and left the 100 degree heat. How can it be so cold in the middle of summer?

So, I am standing on Market Street (didn’t realize it was a famous street at the time) in my shorts and t-shirt, freezing cold…

…chomping down on my food, protecting my luggage from any potential crazy person who might steal it, while I am looking at my Uber app to locate the driver.

3 taxi cabs think I need a ride. I don’t. Just let me eat my food, people. I finally finish it. Burp. Ahh…that was good.

Finally, the Uber driver arrives. I get the key, go to my apartment to get settled in.

The apartment complex was upscale for sure. Really nice. I paid a little over half of what I would have paid at a nice hotel in San Francisco. It was a great place.

I decided to look up how much rent it would be to live in a studio apartment in this complex in San Francisco. Prices range from $3,100 – $3,400 a month. Oh my! That’s for a 400 or 500 square foot STUDIO apartment. 1 bedroom apartments jump up to over $4,000 per month.

I live in a 4+ bedroom house over 6x that size and pay significantly less than that. Geez.

As mentioned, the apartment was on Market Street, in the heart of the city. For a guy who lives in the quiet suburbs in Mandeville, just outside New Orleans, the pace of a big city was a refreshing experience.

I was a bachelor in San Francisco for the night. Party time (ha..ha..not really).

Jena, my wife flew into Sacramento to reconnect with a childhood friend while I flew alone to San Francisco. That meant I had one night and a full day to explore the city on my own. I was going to connect with Jena the next evening in Sonoma Valley, about an hour and a half away.

The main reason for the trip was to support a friend of ours, Richard, who was competing in a full Ironman (called Vineman) in Sonoma.

It was around 5 or 6pm, so I decided to go to Golden Gate Park with a few hours of daylight to spare.

Although I rented a car, parking is an issue in a big city like San Francisco. So, I took an Uber to the park.

I’m new to Uber, and in big cities you can save a lot of money if you share a ride with another rider. I could pay $5 or $15 to arrive at the same destination.

I decided to share a ride and only pay $5.

After I’m picked up, the driver picks up a couple just getting off work a few blocks away.

Best people ever.

We started chatting. They asked me questions about myself. They were genuinely interested in me. I thought that was cool.

I asked them what it was like living in San Francisco. They said it was expensive. They were saving up to buy a place just outside the city.

Really interesting people. I so forgot their name (oops). Anyway, he worked for Uber (how ironic) in the corporate division. She worked for the government.

By the time I arrived to the park, we were friends. In a matter of 15-20 minutes, we were laughing, joking with each other, and talking about our hopes and dreams. 

Man, San Fracisco people are nice.

But, it is time to say goodbye.

I’m dropped off in the middle of the park and decide to walk toward the San Fransisco Bay at the end of the park.

Only when I ask someone which way the bay was, I’m told it’s not the bay…but the ocean on the other side of the park. Ha. Ok, got it. I’m a little slow sometimes.

As I walk towards the OCEAN, I spot some strange looking animals in an open field inside an electric fence.

I ask a stranger what kind of animals they are. They give me this really strange face and say, “Bison…you idiot”. Ok, they didn’t say the idiot part. But the look they gave me said it.

Here’s a pic of the Bison.

bison in san fransisco golden gate park

I think it is strange to have a bunch of bison in the middle of Golden Gate Park. I also think it is was cool.

I keep walking.

I spot this strange looking tree (have no idea what it is):

strange tree in golden gate park

Eventually, I make it to the ocean, only to discover there is a BEACH in San Francisco.

What…are you kidding?!?! I had no idea there is a beach here. I told you…I’m a bit slow sometimes…a lot of the time 🙂

I walk on the beach and turn around to see a bunch of graffiti painted on the wall.

I never see graffiti in Mandeville, so I take this picture:

graffiti in san fransisco

The water is extremely rough, but I see a few people IN THE WATER (which must be minus 10 degrees).

I look closer to discover a few surfers trying to catch some waves.

I love surfing.

I lived in San Diego for 3 years and took up surfing while I was there.

Well, more like I got up on a board and fell down a lot. Sometimes, if I was lucky, I would stay up on the board for the entire wave.

I snap this pic of the surfer dude:

surfer in san fransisco

I start walking back to the park when I spot about 50-60 teens and young adults in a restaurant parking lot. They’re all staring at their phones.

Yep, you guessed it – Pokemon Go. It was a poke’ stop (or is it poke’ shop?).

I decide to not walk all the way back to my starting point. It’s getting colder and nearly dark.

I request an Uber and share the ride back to the apartment.

Once again, I have a wonderful conversion with my Uber-mates (I just made that word up…I do that sometimes).

Really fantastic people. I meet some new friends again.

By this time, it’s dark. I arrive back to the apartment sometime after 8pm.

I chill for about 30-45 minutes, and then it occurs to me the night is young.

I look up a Mexican lounge nearby on Yelp called Azucar Lounge. Fish tacos and a bunch of cozy couches. Looks like my kind of place.

I have back issues, and after a long day travel day I love the idea of relaxing on some comfy couches while stuffing my face with some good Mexican food. Oh yeah.

Here's a pic of Azucar Lounge. I didn't take it, but grabbed it off of Yelp.

Here’s a pic of Azucar Lounge. I didn’t take it, but grabbed it off of Yelp.

After I finished eating, I walked back to the apartment and crashed.

It was a good day, and I was excited about the next day.

I scheduled a VW bus tour of the city. Pretty cool.

What’s my takeaway from day 1 of San Fransisco?

Life Lesson – Breaking free from the grind of everyday life is good for the soul.

I didn’t do anything spectacular on day 1 of San Francisco. I pretty much just went for a walk, then ate some late night Mexican food.

But I was on cloud 9. I was elated to be in a new place. A big, iconic city. Out of Mandeville. Oh, how good it felt.

We all have a grind of everyday life. A rhythm that we follow each day, each week…over and over again.

You wake up, go to work, spend some time with the kids, eat dinner, watch a little TV and then go to bed.

Maybe that’s not your routine. But, you have a routine. Whatever it is.

On one hand, you like the stability and certainty of the routine.

On the other hand, the grind eats away at your soul!

You have a yearning to break free from its grip. Your soul is screaming to be set free. You’re being called to go…somewhere.

You need a break from the grind. You need a change of scenery.

For me, traveling is often just about that. I just need to go.

So….go. Somewhere. Follow your heart.

Plan for it. Save for it.

Take a weekend trip somewhere if you can’t get away for longer.

At the very least, take a day off from work (or whatever responsibilities you have) and drive somewhere locally for the day. Enjoy your hometown like an outsider.

That’s doable for most people.

You deserve a break from the grind every once in awhile.

Treat yourself (and your family if you’re married or have kids).

– Nick Diliberto

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