Disclaimer: You are about to see more photos of the Golden Gate Bridge then you maybe ever wanted to see.
While this post summed up most of my sentiment in visiting this auspicious west coast city, I wanted to do a bit more of an in depth post on it to go along with the photos I'm finally getting around to sharing.
San Francisco was a trip that involved quite a bit of self discovery for me. It was the first overnight trip that I've taken where I was alone, truly alone. I wasn't going to meet up with anyone I knew, I wasn't staying with anyone I knew, I wasn't traveling with anyone I knew.
It was just me.
This left for a lot of time for self reflection and time to think about various things going on in my life, something I very much needed at the time.
In fact a piece from this post by Kylie over at The Flybird has stuck with me ever since reading it and reflected my feelings about this trip quite accurately. She asked her friend Kate what she liked about being alone and she responded by saying:
"I like that it makes me feel independent and strong. I become super alert and observant, and all my senses are heightened."
I love that.
That is exactly how I feel when I'm alone sometimes, but most definitely when I'm traveling.
A sense of heightened-ness.
I think that when you travel alone you're more open to adventures and people and experiences that you would otherwise miss and be distracted from if you were with another person.
That thought is essentially why I love traveling by myself more often than not.
Anyway, I'd been to California before this trip, but I didn't get to see San Francisco and vowed that the next time I went I wouldn't miss out on visiting the revered city. And so, despite the fact that my initial first stop in Laguna Beach was about half a day away, I was determined to make it happen.
So I threw some bare essentials (namely underwear and extra film and camera batteries) into my Madewell Transport Tote (which I got during my first trip to California and which I've used pretty much every day ever since), grabbed The Adventure Hat, got dropped off at the station by these lovely people and took a bus/train/bus combo that made the scenic journey up the coast to the city I'd been wanting to see for so long.
I was going to use Air BnB (If you don't know what it is, sign up and use it! It's a traveller's best friend. And if you go through my link you'll get $25 off your first stay somewhere!) but then a friend of a friend let me stay in her apartment while she was away (you rock Rebecca!)
People blow me away with their generosity sometimes I swear.
After dropping off some of my things (all of which I'd managed to pack in my Madewell tote I might add. I'm a chronic over packer so I was pretty proud of myself for accomplishing this) and taking some screen shots of some maps so as to conserve battery life on my phone, I headed out to walk to the Golden Gate Bridge.
I unknowingly ended up on the California Coastal Trail which made my 10 mile round trip trek so so enjoyable. I mean, I love walking anyway, but the overlooks and scenery on this trail were amazing. I highly recommend it if you ever plan to visit San Fran.
Side note: Birkenstocks are literally the most comfortable shoes my feet have ever met. And, broken toe aside, (which I didn't know was broken at the time... run in with a rock in the pacific ocean earlier in the week...) my feet didn't blister or even feel all that sore despite my walking over 20 miles that weekend.
That first sight of the Golden Gate Bridge (which is depicted in the very first photo of it below) caught me off guard as I rounded the corner as I wasn't expecting it. It was amazing. And because I was mostly alone on the trail for the better part of the day, it was a small little experience that seemed like it was made just for me. It was well worth the wait and build up of dreaming about seeing it for so long.
I listened to my favorite songs as I walked across the bridge (yes, I walked all the way across. Of course), stopped for a break to knit and rest my toe, and took photos in the meager attempt to capture the feelings and emotions of wonder I felt at being on such a beautiful piece of US history.
I reached the other side at sunset, so I didn't have time to venture much farther as I didn't want to walk all the way back home in the dark and get back to where I was staying too late.
I ended the night with Pizza (which wasn't the best pizza I'd ever had or anything, but definitely a fun and enjoyable experience) donuts at All Star Donuts and then a stop into this irish pub (of which I didn't get a photo of until the next day), which led me to meet quite a few entertaining irishmen (and women).
All in all it was a day I knew I would remember for a very very long time. And while seemingly simple and nothing too extraordinary, it was a day that encompassed a lot of importance for me.
I guess it all goes back to that sentiment of overall feeling heightened.