According to Saint Augustine, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page”. With this in mind, let me share a short summary of my recent San Francisco solo travel. This short video is a proof that I indeed finished at least a chapter of what this saint was talking about.
For those who endured and finished watching the whole video… Thank you!!! Watch out for the next chapter…
I am a big fan of art that are commonly found in museums. The forms of art I often marvel about outdoors would be magnificent architectures and massive infrastructures. But while having a walk along the Embarcadero near the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, one massive piece of sculpture struck me. It’s the humongous bow and arrow monument in the middle of Rincon Park.
Upon google search, I learned that the title of this masterpiece is Cupid’s Span built in 2002. The artists who created this gigantic piece made reference to Eros, the Greek God also known to the Roman’s as Cupid who shoots arrows into its would-be-victims.
Unexpectedly discovering this cool piece of art was great! Perceiving and understanding the statement that Cupid’s Span makes – like any other piece of art – can be very subjective. It is open to the personal interpretation of the individual. You either like it or you don’t. I happen to love it! It blends well and stands out pretty impressive with the surrounding location. You can actually view Cupid’s Span from different angles, backgrounds and perspectives at different times. And this unique attribute of this masterpiece gives you different opinion and feeling every time.
It is one unique landmark in SF which I guess celebrates love and how an SF visitor’s heart can actually get stuck and held immovable by the beauty of the sights and culture of San Francisco. For me, it is an unflinching representation of the famous line, “I left my heart in San Francisco”.
And while taking photos of this massive masterpiece, I was gleefully unashamed singing Rachel Alejandro’s song, Mister Kupido! (click the LINK to that song) Hahaha!
Ba’t hindi panain, ang kanyang damdamin ng ako ay mapansin…
If bridges have emotions, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge would be suffering from the saddest form of depression. It is because it lives in the shadow of its gorgeous cousin, one of the most iconic landmarks in USA, the Golden Gate Bridge.
It must be experiencing the lowest form of inferiority complex! Can you just imagine though you are standing mighty and majestic, it is your closest neighbor that singers would sing about and painters would paint on their canvass. Can you just imagine being the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and your sister (named Golden Gate) is the one chosen by photographers every time there is a photo shoot? It would definitely feel like being the ugly step sister of a famous super model.
San Francisco-Oakland is so unpopular even those who plans to commit suicide living in Oakland would have to drive and cross it and then proceed to its megalomaniac neighbor, the Golden Gate Bridge where they would execute their plans of killing themselves. Suicide committers I guess finds jumping at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to be prosaic and un-poetic. Unlike jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge the suicide act, of course, would be more dramatic!
A lot of tourists even snob it and call this bridge un-sexy. Though it has one of the longest spans in the US, visitors deemed it as the poor ugly cousin of the Golden Gate. While for the locals who cross it every day, due to heavy traffic and congestion especially during rush hours, they would consider this pathway a daily disaster.
But despite all these collective discouraging image and reputation that Bay Bridge has been attached with, I nevertheless marveled at the beauty strength and majesty of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It’s actually beautiful if you got to take a good look at this equally magnificent engineering master piece. I was actually at awe by its enormity! No matter if people like it or not, and thank goodness it does not have feelings at all, this engineering marvel and the commerce that it brings to the city keeps the SF metro alive.
One downside of being a solo traveler, which I realized during my San Francisco CA solo expedition, is that I am to eat alone. Good thing I am living by myself in Manila, thus, the impact of eating solo in a foreign country is not disturbing if compared to those who are so used to sharing a thought and their food with someone else during a meal.
Because of this glitch, I avoided fancy restaurants and during meal periods I can be found in a communal table of a food court, an indie coffee shop or in a park munching a dish I bought from a food stall or food truck.
But when my college best friend Marie (now based in Los Angeles) recommended that I should try and dine at Stinking Rose, I never had a second thought. One late lunch period, I navigated the streets of SF and proceeded to Columbus Avenue where the Italian restaurant is located.
The receptionist upon knowing that I am dining “just myself”, she was smart and gentle enough to assign me to a good and strategic table (a corner by the window) which seem intended really for solo diners.
I ordered a 3-course Prix Fixe Dinner bundle. For the main course I settled with the one recommended by the waiter, the Forty Clove Garlic Chicken. And when the food was served, I totally forgot about the glitches and hurdles of dining solo in a fancy or busy restaurant.
On a bright side of this experience, since my mind would not be diverted or side-tracked from this gustatory encounter, I actually was able to indeed levy the quality and taste of the food that was served at Stinking Rose. I was more focus and conscious about the palatal attributes of the food I was devouring. And my verdict about Stinking Rose? Let me just say that my super friend Marie cares for my palatal satisfaction. She indeed gave me an excellent recommendation!
I may forget that I dined solo at Stinking Rose but the gustatory experience I had with this Italian restaurant shall be remembered for a very long time.
Sometimes we grow up with images of a place thinking we’ll never see them in real life. But when you finally get there, those images are just as magnificent as you expected. The Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District of San Francisco CA is one of those places.
There has been voluminous magazines, journals and publications in my younger years that this popular tourist attraction has been featured. There are even lots of foreign movies wherein this place is the location shoot. One in particular is a 1995 Filipino movie starring Lea Salonga and Aga Mulach entitled Sana Maulit Muli. (Hahaha! Of course I remember that!)
And when I finally and personally got to see and feel the whole majestic beauty of the Palace of Fine Arts, the feeling is just but surreal. I can’t actually remember how many times I sat on various locations of benches scattered around the park. I even sat under a tree! Maybe it is because I was too overwhelmed by the experience, I had to stop and breathe so as to sink all the prodigious feelings in.
A visit to this gorgeous piece of architecture is one memorable highlight of my SF adventure.
While at the Presidio looking for a nearby Starbucks to fulfill my coffee craving for the day, I happen to have found a fountain that features one of the most iconic fictional movie characters of all time. While sipping my coffee and taking a much deserved rest inside Starbucks after a beautiful walk at the Palace of Fine Arts, I looked into Google Maps to determine how to go back to my hotel.
Google Maps pointed that I am actually steps away from a certain Yoda Fountain. I just wondered if Yoda is the same Yoda that I was thinking of. I absolutely had zero idea about it! And out of curiosity, I followed the Google Map on how to reach it.
With my personal belief that “spontaneity is the best kind of adventure”, I had a surprising selfie with Yoda, the Grand Master of the Jedi Order!
Adapting to the famous movie line by Yoda, one of wisest beings of the galaxy, “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose”, this type of surprising occurrence and unpredictable circumstance truly made my first time solo travel adventure so fulfilling!
‘Di ko akalaing makita ang huklubang Yoda sa Kalipornya!
I am a solo traveler in my recent travel adventure to San Francisco, California. Prior to leaving Manila, I tried to read a couple of blogs and view a number of vlogs on tips of being a solo traveler, which I hope would help me in this first time solo expedition.
There are however two worthy items that all these blogs and vlogs seem to have missed. First, is never to arrive in your destination at night time. This is actually what happened to me when I arrived in SFO. My flight landed at 10:30 PM and was only able to go out of the airport after about 40 minutes.
Arriving in an unexplored location in the middle of the night somehow gave me chills and some dash of fear. Good thing with my childhood background, I grew up in a slum-like area of Pasay. Dealing with street weirdos is like something that I am used to. With this rich experience, I know I can handle goons and crooks out in the streets of San Francisco.
But goons and crooks of US are actually not my problem when I arrived super late at night in SFO. It was the rain!
While rolling my humongous luggage and drenched in a very cold rain, there was literally no one in the streets of San Francisco to ask for possible directions and location of my super budget hotel. Even the goons and crooks seem to have gone to some freakin’ dry and warm shelter.
Thus, may you fear lurkers in the night or dread the horrors of unforeseen weather condition, never land to your area of destination at nigh time when you are a solo traveler.
Second, when you have just arrived in your destination and it’s in the middle of the night, drenched with heavy rain and can’t seem to locate your hotel, the thing that you should do is to proceed to the nearest five star hotel. Not the police station, not a hospital neither a 24-hour convenience store. You should run to the concierge of the nearest 5 star hotel.
Concierge of 5 star hotels are more knowledgeable, more efficient and more helpful compared to bellhops and front desk beings of most non-5 star accommodations. They are always there to help, may you be a guest or a mere “tambay” (loiterer) of their establishment.
And this is exactly what I did. Drenched, tired and worried, I run to the nearest hotel concierge that I can find. The obliging concierge pointed that it’s only walking distance from their hotel but since it’s raining he volunteered on calling a cab for me. He summoned a bellman to blow his whistle and automatically a cab arrived. He even helped me with my luggage by putting it inside the trunk. I of course handed the guy some hefty tip for being such an angel towards a co-angel in distress.
Though these experiences adds up to the spice of my learnings of being a solo traveler, I hope these two tips would help a lot especially those who plan to go on solo. Good luck, have fun and stay safe!