I had a health scare years ago; that turned out to be nothing. Thank God. However, it did motivate me to make some major life changes. One of those changes was moving to San Francisco. I always loved the city. So I applied at Yahoo almost as a fluke. They flew me up for an all day interview, and I got the job. I opted to live in the city and commute. It was a just a short train ride away. I ended up living in the city by the bay for three years. There are times I wish I had stayed. But, luckily it’s a short plane ride away.
Visiting San Francisco always puts a smile on my face. Something is in the air. This city is dynamic, and I’m always glad to go back even for a short visit. Once that landing gear hits the tarmac, memories come flashing back like a gust of fast-moving wind rushing past me. I love this city. The variety of people, the freedom of expression, the energy, the restaurants, the attitude, the cool, foggy air, and did I mention the restaurants? The cost of living was the only pitfall for me. You can make it work, sure.
I enjoyed living there very much. I was fortunate to work in top-notch companies and met some incredibly talented and smart people. I felt alive, challenged and energized. In fact, some of my favorite people still live in this city or its outskirts. I also fell in love in that city. He moved from Southern California for a job, and I thought for me too. I left. I guess he got the bug because he stayed and still lives there to this day. At that time, you could say that I left my heart in San Francisco. Okay, technically I was living outside the city by then, but it still counts. My ticker is 98.9% whole again and beating stronger than ever. Knock on wood (as I make a fist and lightly tap my noggin two times).
One of my most vivid memories was driving my little convertible to Tiburon with my then boyfriend, picnicking by the bay, and just chilling out. Yeah, well… did I mention the restaurants? How is that for deflecting? But there are fantastic eateries from, tasty, historic, unique to fancy, on practically every corner. I have a few favorites. Particularly, the Crepe House on Polk Street, Oola on Folsom in SoMa, Kokkari on Jackson in North Beach/Telegraph Hill, Town Hall on Howard Street, and the list goes on and on and on and then on some more. So many fun areas to explore: The Mission, Nob Hill, North Beach, SoMa, The Haight, Dolores Park, and Pac Heights. Union Street! Love Union Street. The Ferry Building. Oh, and don’t get me started on the coffee! Philz Coffee and Blue Bottle Coffee Co! Enough Said.
When I lived in the city, I commuted by train to Mountain View. I read books, worked, and on occasion rested my eyes on some of those rare, longer than usual train rides. Good ‘ole Cal Train. Yahoo had shuttle buses that picked us up and swept us to “the compound” where they caffeinated us up and fed us well. No complaints from this girl. Give me a Latte and laptop, put me to work, and I’m good to go. I would sometimes run into my co-workers on the commute that allowed for some catch-up time.
When I first moved to the city, I had to get the touristy things out of the way. A must was a sourdough bowl of clam chowder at the Wharf. I rode to the top of Coit Tower, took a picture of the infamous Painted Ladies, drove across and walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. I drove down Lombard Street. I have no idea how people live on that street. I took a cable car, went to Ghirardelli Square and took the tour at Alcatraz. The tour is eerily interesting. It’s a surreal experience to know you are standing where some of the most notorious criminals like Arthur R. “Doc” Barker, Robert “The Birdman” Stroud and Al Capone, once stood.
Once I settled in, I adapted to Northern California life rather easily. It became my home away from home. Someone once warned me to layer up because temperatures shift rapidly. I was ill prepared so I invested in some scarves, sweaters, coats, and umbrellas. I went through maybe five or six umbrellas thanks to the wind tunnel that connected my apartment to the outside world.
I walked everywhere, and I loved it. Public transit makes it easy to get around from one side of the city to the next and from one side of the bay to the other. I knew it got foggy, but I had no idea that the fog had a life of its own and could soak up the entire city within seconds. I loved the chill in the air. Especially coming from Southern California where it rarely drops below 70 degrees. As Mark Twain once said: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” I understand that now.
There is always something to do, some festival, or some festivity to suit your fancy. The social life varied depending on what group of friends I hung out with but overall I never lacked in friend festivities, cultural events, festivals, dinners, dance clubs, parties, museums and more.
The things I miss most about San Francisco? The list is far too long. But I narrowed it down to 10:
- The Ferry Building
- Taking the Ferry to Tiburon
- Opera and Picnic in SF Bay Park
- Sports Basement (sporting goods store)
- Chrissy Field
- Incredible restaurants (Oola, Town Hall, Kokkari, and more)
- Wine Tasting in Napa
- The coffee (Philz, Blue Bottle Coffee)
- The Embarcadero
- The fun!
I’m not alone in the love for this city. When you do visit, do enjoy the touristy stuff. Explore the many great areas that make the city so distinct. Dine in their yummy restaurants. Immerse yourself in the art, culture and take in the beautiful aesthetics of the fabulous city by the bay.
By| Gina L. Cafasso