When you get tired of walking around in San Francisco, you can always lean against it. – Unknown
San Francisco kind of snuck up on me. I hadn’t planned on a visit, but a work opportunity came up, and I’ve never been one to turn down travel… especially to somewhere potentially warmer than the chilly bowels of Ottawa during a wintery April. So when the west coast came a-knocking, I welcomed it in with a happy heart.
Overall, a great trip! It had wonderful, life-enriching moments, one crazy scary “this can’t be happening” moment, and then a bunch of regular ol’ life moments.
Lessons I learned while in San Francisco:
- Always know where you’re going. Don’t just wander around, or you’ll end up in the Tenderloin on a Sunday morning, lost amongst a street full of crackheads who will delight in following you, screaming horrible things at you, and trying to corner you, all while you’re desperate to find some kind of refuge in the shape of a Starbucks. It took me about 10 minutes to find my way out of the Tenderloin, and it was 10 minutes that I could classify as terrifying. If you’re visiting a new town, do your research on where the scary bits are… and be careful to avoid them. I came out unharmed, and calmed myself by looking at pretty dresses. It helped.
- Another lesson learned whilst walking: Don’t trust Google Maps when it says that it will take you 10 minutes to walk to the conference centre near your hotel. It will take 30 minutes.
- If you get stuck in an elevator, get unloaded on a service floor, and have to navigate through the back hallways and tunnels underneath your hotel to get out, it’s not a bad thing. A little adventure before 8am never hurt anyone. Plus, I seemed like the most competent of the “business people” who were trying to find their way out. I was the scrappy girl in jeans leading a parade of executives through garbage rooms, and hotel kitchens; reading fire exit maps and trying to communicate with the back room hotel employees to let them know we were lost and afraid… and could they spare a danish?
- Alcatraz tours get booked up super fast. Ironic that criminals risked their lives to escape something that tourists can’t wait to pay to get into. In lieu of an Alcatraz tour, I watched The Rock on Netflix that night.
- The employees at Marshalls spend a lot of their time trying to kick out some guy who brings a snake into the store with the intent to scare customers. Yes, he creeped me out, but I mistook it for a charming San Francisco happenstance. They did not find it charming and kicked him and his snake out for what sounded like the second or third time that day.
- I’m not good with timezones. I passed out in my clothes way too many times and had that sad morning feeling you get when you know you didn’t fall asleep quite right.
- Every day, I ended up at a Starbucks, and every day, they failed to make a Green Tea Lemonade properly. I have so many “Sorry! Have a free drink on us next time!” coupons now.
Despite the crackheads, shifty Google Maps, elevator adventures, denied Alcatraz visits, crazy snake men, failed sleep attempts, and mistaken delicious beverages, my visit was quite pleasant. The Golden Gate Bridge is obviously a must see (if only for the Full House nostalgia), and the streetcars were simply adorable.
Oh! And the conference I went to for work was incredibly inspiring, and has my brain filled with all sorts of ideas for what I’m working on with Shopify. It was a conference where I felt no waste of time – everything was super relevant for remote workforce management. If remote teams float your boat, check it out! It was the Office Optional conference hosted by Lean Startup. Really solid conference.
My final verdict on San Fran! Definitely go if you can! It really is beautiful, and I only saw part of it. I want to go back and see more someday! Until then, I’ll always have my Instagram shots of the GG bridge.