I knew my second day in the city would be exhausting, but just how exhausting it turned out to be would have been incomprehensible to my younger, more innocent mind.
Back in Britain, when planning my trip, I had originally decided that I would get up early, and trek to the ferry in Oakland. From there, I would have arrived in San Francisco, and walked around the coast to the Golden Gate Bridge, which I would have crossed, enjoyed its views, then begun the same journey in reverse. Oh what a fool I was.
Fortunately for me, my host, Max, pointed out how ridiculous the idea of walking from the ferry to the bridge was, and instead gave me his Clipper Card, so that I could access all transport in the bay area. Travelling along the BART line into the city centre, I was presented with the San Francisco I had always dreamed of, and not the bleak, dingier parts of the city that I had experienced a day previous.
Whipping up a map on my phone, I analysed my route, taking into consideration a detour to the nearest comic shop.
A nerds gotta do what a nerds gotta do.
With my new plan laid out, I marched off, confident now in my grasp of the difference between nickels and dimes, and the strange system of crossing and jaywalking that this country fortunately doesn’t seem to care about.
An hour in, and I’ve barely made it to the Bridge. Having assumed it was much closer, I pulled out onto the docks, to find the bridge standing tall in the fog, seeming miles away.
I continued on.
Closer now, and I realise I might not even be going in the right direction, as I realised there was nothing to indicate this beach path would somehow leap up the hills and onto the bridge. And just as my luck would dictate, the people I chose to ask for help turned out to also be tourists, and couldn’t understand my inquiry.
Eventually, I came into some solid answers, and after a quick Snapchat and a few photos for my own collection, I persisted towards the Warm-Up Centre (I think that was what it was called).
The stroll up the hill to the mouth of the bridge was surprisingly pleasant, and the views were spectacular. Unfortunately, it had come to my attention now that my desert walking boots had clearly not stretched out as much as I had hoped, and I became very aware of the blisters spreading across the back of my foot.
I struggled on, attempting to enjoy the glorious scenery around me, and was finally given a moment of sweet relief when I felt my blister pop nearer to the end of my journey across the bridge.
Unfortunately, from here, the pain only got worse, and as I stood staring out from Vista Point, I realised that I really hadn’t given my day enough thought. I had set off at around mid-day, planning on visiting a place called ‘Brenda’s Soul Food’, having heard good things.
Unfortunately, whilst in the vicinity of said restaurant, I found myself lacking the hunger than one needs to face a truly American meal, and thought I would put it off for later.
So now, I found myself in Marin county, three hours later, hungry and in pain, having walked seven miles to get there, with the same journey facing me in reverse.
Could I have got a bus? Probably. But my phone had run out of battery, and I was sure the way back would be quicker without my detour. Plus, at this point, I was desperate to find a Starbucks and buy myself a coffee and a sandwich.
I had no such luck, and after a long walk back to the Civic Centre, at which point my sunglasses were blown from my shirt pocket and under a car, I finally gave in upon spotting the familiar sight of the Asian American Museum, and retreated to MacDonald’s.
It was an enjoyable day, with my lack of planning being the only thing that took away from it. But now, with a collection of pictures posted on Instagram (http://instagram.com/semoungabio), and Band-Aids covering my blister wounds, I can give myself a pat on the back, for enduring my 14+ mile walk.
Would I do it again? Maybe one day. But maybe with some company, probably on a bike, and definitely in better footwear!