I can’t begin this story without first telling you how it came to be. I rarely, if ever, mention failed plans. If it didn’t happen, then you’ll never know. I don’t even mention concrete plans until they’re already fulfilled. I’m trying something new today…
I have wanted to go to Art Basel Miami for the last couple years and this was the year that I was determined to go. So before I bought a flight or the weekend pass for the festivities, I requested to be off from work and was just waiting on the right flight to pop up. Because I know that Miami can get really expensive, really fast, I found someone in my travel group who was down to go and split the costs for lodging. About a month beforehand she told me that she wouldn’t be able to afford it and I just knew that was the end of the dream. I thought maybe I would still go alone IF the price was right for the flight, but nothing was popping up on any flight deal websites and there was no chatter among my traveling groups of cheap flights to come…especially for one of the most expensive weekends in Miami. I gave up on the Art Basel dream, planning to go at it better prepared in 2016. However, I still kept the vacation days on my calendar in case something else popped up. The odds of that cheap weekend flight were slim to none, but I had high hopes that I didn’t request time off in vain. I was well overdue for a vacation and with the last plans cancelled because of a potential travel partner, I was determined to finally take a solo trip. Can you believe that was the straw that broke the camels back? I had been hesitant, if not terrified, of going anywhere alone for years and never thought I would take a solo trip. I would let the ill preparations, the lack of vacation time, and the low funds of others prevent me from doing the things I wanted to do and going the places that I wanted to go. That all changed one day when I was sitting at work and a super cheap flight to San Francisco made it’s way to the cheap airfare boards. Within five minutes I was booked for my second solo trip.
San Francisco is #2 because a few months ago I actually booked a trip for this March that i’ll be taking alone. To be honest, I was hoping to still have company on that trip, but now that I’ve been on vacation alone, I can’t imagine what it’s like going somewhere with others anymore. Also, because my upcoming trip is international, San Francisco was the perfect practice before going somewhere further with no cell phone service and a slight, but possible language barrier. Now back to San Francisco…
The trip started off shaky with two short flight delays due to bad weather in the Bay area. This was okay with me because I had the hardest time getting a car to the airport, so I was thankful for the plane not taking off on time. I may not have made it. In addition to that, I forgot my earphones at home. I made the most of that situation and opted to not buy any at the airport. Instead, I bought a bestselling book off of the 50% off/used rack at the airports bookstore, and I read a few travel books and manifestos that I had saved on my desktop. Those must reads were long overdue, so a flight was the perfect place to get into them. The free wifi Jet Blue offered staved off boredom as well, but I tried to disconnect from the interwebs as much as possible.
I was told that the public transportation in San Francisco is fantastic. That’s when I knew I wouldn’t need to rent a car and I definitely wouldn’t be uber’ing around town. When my flight landed I headed right to the train station and made my way to Union Square, where I’d be staying for the next few days. I have to admit, I was quite surprised when I exited the train station and saw that Union Square was the place to be. I quickly walked to my room – little did I know that walking would be my sole mode of transportation for my entire stay, save for a $3 uber ride due to my heels one night – and changed clothes to prepare for a night on the town. I was a little tired but wanted no time to rest. I had already asked around about bars that would fit my personality type and happened to go to the perfect one on the perfect night. I was told that had I come any other night, it might have been a deadzone. I was too happy to walk into this swanky joint to order a “Corpse Reviver #2,” complete with absinthe. The night was mesmerizing from that moment on.
I noted before my journey that my gym had locations in San Francisco. It too was within walking distance of where I was staying. Because they didn’t seem to be offering classes, I opted to get my workout in by walking around the city. I got up bright and early my first morning, had breakfast, and hit the pavement. Even as a person that roams the streets for hours on end, I had to admit that the first hill I encountered could’ve easily taken me out. My destination was the Golden Gate bridge and if there were too many more of those inclines I wasn’t sure how on earth I’d make it, let alone make it back. However, I marched on. Here are some cool shots I got along the way.
On my way to the Golden Gate Bridge I stumbled upon the funkiest neighborhood (pictured above) and couldn’t help but photograph some of the homes. I distinctly remember during this moment looking over to my right and seeing water. Water is my thing. I love to see and be around it. I thought it was kismet that during my journey I would unknowingly come across a marina, but it was what was in the distance that really caught my eye. I saw some sort of facility sitting atop an island in the middle of the water, and it only took a quick google map check to confirm that it was in fact Alcatraz. I was getting several tours in one and it was all thanks to literally stumbling around this gorgeous city.
From the marina I could see the bridge but wasn’t sure how exactly I would get close enough for a decent photograph. The directions I put in to walk there from Union Square seemed to be leading me in the direction of walking across the bridge, but I wanted some shots of it from the side. As I contemplated actually crossing the bridge, I saw a couple women head down a path and preparing to jog. I thought it’d be a nice break for a hike/short exploration, so I followed them. At this point I stumbled upon Chrissy Beach – I know, the title of this blog should be Stumbled Upon, but really, that’s how I find most things. I immediately knew that this beach was where I wanted to be. This is what I had walked upwards of an hour for. This is also where I would do a 180 and see the craziest domed structure and decide that instead of a restaurant for lunch, that place would be my next destination.
I can’t believe that the Palace of Fine Arts was never on my radar but I gravitated toward it from the moment I laid eyes on it. I witnessed a super intricate proposal, and the shots were a bonus.
After officially working up an appetite, I headed back toward Union Square. Along the way I found a tea shop and picked up a couple organic teas, and then moseyed across the street to a bookstore to snag a book and one of those Mandala Meditation Adult Coloring Books that everyone is obsessed with these days. That’s when I realized that San Francisco, like Miami, could get really expensive really fast, so I began watching my spending. I blamed any frivolous buys on “treating myself” because, well, I deserve it!
I can’t believe that this was only my first morning/afternoon in San Francisco and it was already packed with tons of adventure. I spent the following three days leaving Union Square (sometimes several times a day) and walking to the Fisherman’s Wharf, further downtown, to creole southern food spots for the most amazing seafood frittata one will ever taste, and back to the Fisherman’s Wharf late at night for wine tastings and conversations with Australian vineyard owners. My last night in San Francisco ended at a themed bar where I ordered the Jay Gatsby and was eventually whisked away to a rooftop bar with views of the city for music and conversation. If you would’ve asked me what I thought San Francisco would be like as a solo trip, I would’ve thought it meant nights in bed by 8pm because I ran out of things to do. It turned out to be a mesmerizing weekend filled with unexpected adventures, amazing food, and genuinely nice people. I’m still craving more.