San Francisco (photos added)

My last stop before home.

Better make it a good ‘un.

I was excited to reach San Francisco. As well as being a vibrant and interesting city, I would be meeting up with Bill, my travel buddy from north-west China. Within an hour of dumping my bags, he’d picked me up at the hotel and we had beer in front of us. Next day he took his tour guide duties very seriously and I saw more of San Francisco in one day than I’d hoped to see in five.

Bill took me for the best Dim Sum since Hong Kong, perfect pizza, burritos that would feed an army and delectable fusion food, the inspired blending of flavours that mirrors San Francisco’s eclectic ethnic mix. Wandering around, I indulged in Vietnamese beef noodles, strong espresso, deli eats and traditional American diners. In San Francisco you can take your tastebuds on a round the world trip without crossing the street.

Wearing flowers in my hair, I followed in the footsteps of the Beat Generation and spent a delightful couple of hours perched on a wooden stool in the City Lights Bookstore, immersing myself in poetry and stories that were born in San Francisco and influenced the world.

We went along to the Chihuly exhibition at De Young’s museum, a stunning display – I didn’t realise glass could be so beautiful. We strolled through Golden Gate Park, saw almost extinct American Bison and were drawn into a debate about Iraq by a passing San Franciscan. I marvelled at the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoyed views from just about every viewpoint in the city, thanks to Bill’s Honda, and was bowled over by the vistas spead out before me.

Shopping, wandering around, quaint cable cars and trams, pastel-coloured houses gleaming in the sunshine, steep hills rewarding me with glorious views, occasional fog unrolling over the city like a fluffy blanket; San Francisco captured my heart and added itself to my list of places I could live for a while.

On my last day, Bill took me up to Napa Valley and we spent the day tasting Californian wine and enjoying the scenery, followed by more great food and a steady stream of beer, laughs and travel stories. I kept saying out loud,

‘I go home tomorrow.’

But it refused to sink in. It was a meaningless, disembodied sentence.

It wasn’t until after midnight, in a bar called ‘The Bitter End’, listening to favourite tunes on a old juke box, that I said, ‘I go home today’ and it seemed real for the first time.

Next morning, rubbing my eyes and dosing the after effects of The Bitter End with strong coffee, I took an emotional journey to the airport, bidding a sad farewell to San Francisco, a very special city, and to my incredible year of travel. I felt them both pull me back, like an elastic band at full stretch, and tried to savour every moment, to experience every sensation of this, the end of my trip.

5 thoughts on “San Francisco (photos added)”

  1. Jac, hello again, just back from the South of France with the girls and so I’ve missed a few of your blogs. But having read your SanFran exploits and your last few word I could’n help wondering when exactly is the “end of my trip” for any of us. I imagine your memeories will stay with you and be savoured for years to come. You’ve been places and seen things that most of us only dream about and thanks to your brilliant writing you took me with you. Thanks for a magic year going round the world with you. I don’t know ahat I’m going to do this winter. Looking forward to cathing up with you when you get back and hearing of your future plans.
    Hakuna Matata

  2. Chief, hope you had a lovely time in France. Thanks for your comment, as ever. It’s lovely to be back and catching up with family and friends. You’re right about the memories I have – I’ll treasure them always, and will no doubt send people running and screaming when I utter the words ‘When I was in…’ It’s useful to have an infallible method of emptying rooms. Between my travel stories and my singing I can now get all the peace and quiet I’ll ever need… ;-)
    I think there are still a few more blogs in me, and I’m hoping to make a short ‘best of’ photo compilation at some point, so Jac’s Journey isn’t quite over yet.
    Look forward to catching up soon. Cup of coffee sometime? Jacsx

  3. I may be one of a very small, elite group – people who are pleased at last you’re home! Welcome back ……. at least for now! Somehow I think the wanderlust bug may only temporarily be at rest!

    Love always. Mum

  4. Hi Jacs,

    I am glad you have made it home safely and are enjoying your reunions, but it seems so strange to me when a blog that I have been following comes to an end, yet I am still on the move, it doesn’t feel quite right, it makes me feel a bit irresponsible, a bit fortunate and a bit jealous all at the same time.

    Well, you have lived your dream, but we all need a dream and this one will surely be soon replaced, may be it has been replaced already. But you have seen you can do it once, so you know you can do it again, you can carry on living your dream, whatever it is.

    Being away for so long will I suspect change you, even if in only a small way, I know it has changed me, I didn’t think it would, but it has and I haven’t even returned yet. You are bright and enthusiastic, I am sure you can fulfil your dreams which ever path you take. Go for it, enjoy yourself and inspire others in the process.

    You say you might add to you blog, so I shall keep an eye out and look forward to it.

    All the very best,

    John

  5. Mum – it’s lovely to be home too – nothing quite like the warm welcome of a family that’s missed me… A cure for the wanderlust bug? I hope it’s never invented! ;-)
    John – Thanks for your inspiring words. You’re right – there’re always new dreams to chase and right now I am so excited by the potential and range of possibilities facing me. I feel as if the world is my oyster, without even having to leave home! Wishing you good roads. I’ll now be travelling vicariously through your blog!

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