Pack Your Bags: San Francisco
The (hilliest) City by the Bay
The majority of our team was pretty bummed to find out our event in San Francisco was cancelled. Not the road warriors though! Our path to Portland lead right through San Fran, so we made sure to take advantage of a few free days.
Because we had the truck and trailer we had to park well on the other side of the bay in the suburbs. Wasn't a problem though as the BART train took us directly into the Financial District. For a major city San Francisco is very inaccessible by car, but the BART and CALtrain are filled with people at all hours of the day.
Once we got into town I was curious to see what the buzz about SF was. This is the home of America's fastest growing businesses, with tons of young (and very smart) people moving there every month. What could possibly be the big draw?
The answer is opportunity. There are so many jobs and new ideas flowing in SF that draw people in. Your networking opportunities are unlimited, and at any time you could be drinking next to a high level executive from a major technology company and not even know it. There's a certain mystique about that type of community, and the residents remain hopeful and work VERY hard. From the get go it was very apparent that life in San Francisco is business first, business second, and play second.
With that said, if you are in SF to play there's a lot of unique things to see. We spent our first day in the Financial District and took a walk to the Ferry Building and Fisherman's Wharf. I definitely recommend the Ferry Building for a visit, inside you'll find an extensive food market similar to Chelsea Market in NYC. A short walk along the Bay and you'll hit Fisherman's Wharf, which I HATED. It's an old fish market that has been devoured by tourists and now features such culinary delights as Hard Rock Cafe and Red Robin. Pass on this if you can.
San Francisco is a great city for wanderers, and when it's 2pm on a Wednesday and you have nothing to do this helps tremendously. The neighborhoods throughout the city are diverse, and they change very quickly. One minute you're in an Italian neighborhood, the next you're in Chinatown. And make sure you bring good shoes. The hills are no joke. Silent killers.
I was lucky enough to crash with a good friend who lives in the Marina District, which happens to be the hottest new neighborhood for young professionals. It's filled with great restaurants, bars, shops, and astronomical rent prices. The Marina is only a stone's throw from the Golden Gate Bridge, and for a few bucks I rented a bike and decided to ride across it. This is by far the most touristy thing you can do in the city, and it was AWESOME. The Golden Gate is truly an engineering marvel, a great accomplishment of mankind. There isn't a single bad view around or on the bridge. Just be prepared for the throngs of people crowding the narrow two-lane walkway. Definitely worth the frustration though, look at these views:
My favorite part of the trip was something that will only amount to another check mark on my list. I'm desperate to go to a baseball game in every park in America, so I'm trying my best to knock off as many as I can this summer. I was lucky enough to snag cheap tickets to a Giants day game, and AT&T Park proved to be a great place to take in the action. Situated right next to the Bay, the stadium has a backdrop and feel unlike any other park in America. Boaters and canoe riders can come right up to the outfield walls, and if they're lucky they'll catch a splashed HR ball. The SF fans are invested in the game, which makes all the difference in the park's atmosphere. Though I'd say going to a baseball game would be a creative cop out on an adventurous trip, but catching a game in SF is really an adventure in itself.
Even though it was only 3 days, my trip to SF was exhausting. The walking will wear you out, and the high prices will lighten your wallet. The chance to see such a unique place, however, will always be a great memory.