I have been very fortunate in my life to visit many places in Europe but most recently going Inter-railing in 2016 was a chance where I could really experience so many cultures at once. I have also been to fortunate to visit America on multiple occasions. Visiting the east on multiple trips in the summer of 2015 we decided to visit the west coast.
Dublin – San Fransisco
The trip began with nearly a 9 hour flight from Dublin to Chicago with a 5 hour connecting flight to San Fransisco. We took the Bart out from the airport into the city to where we were staying. I will never forget being greeted by so many homeless people begging for money. This was not a great way to be welcomed into a city and to start the trip. It also didn’t help as we are walking to our hotel the police say to take a longer route to avoid certain streets. Jet lag was a real killer here as the struggle to stay awake the first night seemed very difficult. However it seemed to disappear quite quickly.
Meeting one of my neighbours in San Fransisco was a really nice touch to begin the trip. He was there on a J1 for his second summer in a row and was able to tell us about his experience there and some recommendations of where to go and what to visit.
The Golden Gate bridge is something you could not ignore about seeing while in San Fransicso. Luckily during the time I was there, there was no heavy fog so the bridge was clearly visible from a far. We had rented bikes for the day and we cycled across the bridge and stoped along the way to take in some of the breath taking views. Ending our cycle in a little town Sausalito the weather suddenly got a lot warmer and was nice to be out of the city for a little bit and enjoy the surroundings. Taking the ferry back was also a nice to enjoy the city on the water.
Alcatraz island was somewhere we had to visit. It is one of those places that is cool to visit but not somewhere you would really visit again and again. Being in an old prison was something that was really cool to experience. Getting to walk around everywhere headphones that talked about stories where you were standing really made the whole experience but the sound effect really brought it to the next level that made it almost feel like the prison was still in use while you were there.
We visited many other places in San Fransisco in the heart of the city such as Union Square, Fishermans Warf, Pier 39, Chinatown and Lombard Street. I had high hopes for Chinatown but after briefly walking in I was already ready to leave. There was something about just feeling totally uncomfortable as I walked the streets. Lombard street was something like no other that was amazing to see. The road being so steep and also twisting so much it was something I wondered why so many people had the desire to drive down it. The cable cars was something that seemed at first why it could be a big tourist attraction but after being on it I could see why so many people wait in line. It was great to travel the streets of the city but in a different way to walking or being in a car or bus.
Something that really struck me was just how steep San Fransisco really is. You can look at all the photos and videos you want but nothing really beats standing on the streets and having to walk to the very top. There are not too many places where you can look down a street and it completely straight yet goes up and down within such a short distance. What really appealed to me was the ability to look down a street and see for miles. Being still in the city this was not something that I was used to seeing back home as there was nothing like this. Being in a place that was so very different to what I was normally used to was something that really appealed to me.
Having a big interest in technology and I had always wanted to visit Silicon Valley. Being a business area I knew there wasn’t going to be too much to be seen however I knew Apple had a store you could go to so I wanted to visit. Unfortunately the summer I was there it was being refurbished and was closed. Due to this information we decided to not to go and make more use of our time on the day we travelled to Yosemite national park.