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Tales of San Francisco

37°46' 30" N 122°25' 10" W San Francisco

Oct 16, 2014  –  by Maeva

We left the long stretches of highway down the coast and its isolated beaches to find the city of the flower power. We reached it from the North on a Friday afternoon, taking the Golden Gate Bridge, like one should. #hellyeah. And I was driving!! (Anyone who knows my driving skills knows how impressive that is.) Steph didn’t leave me behind the wheel for too long though, we’ll say. Anyways, our first stop was obviously the viewpoint right after the bridge to get a sunny touristy shot in front of the world famous landmark. As we were watching the view, some people whispered to us “Hey, there are naked people down there, check it out!” Oh yes, there sure were some naked people on the beach down below. Well we did arrive during the heat wave.Welcome to Hippie town!

Golden gate bridge
Golden gate bridge
Steph and Maeva in front of the Golden Gate Bridge
Steph and Maeva in front of the Golden Gate Bridge

We had a bit of time, so we headed to the crowded Pier 39 for a bit of long boarding along the port, Alcatraz watching and possibly some ice cream… We then drove to Lombard Street to test Steph’s piloting skills in the famous downhill zig zag street. Ea-sy.

Alcatraz at sunset
Alcatraz at sunset
Maeva below Bubba Gump Shrimp
Maeva below Bubba Gump Shrimp

Later, we headed towards Berkeley, taking the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge, which gave us a pretty intense city reality check. Here’s a few numbers to get some perspective: 7810m/25623ft long, 2 decks of 5 lanes each, 17.5m/57.5ft large… Guinness World Records say it’s the widest bridge in the world and we believe it! Heavy traffic on such a monster of a bridge is a pretty insane experience. Especially when you’re not 100% where you’re headed. Thank God for Google Maps!

We were headed to Berkeley to join Duke – also known as Nico, a friend from France who lives there – who had kindly offered us to stay at his place. After a stop in a random coffee shop in a very Hastings-like street of Berkeley, we joined him and his coworkers at his CEO’s house up on a hill. As soon as we entered the house, we were like “WOW!”: a minimalist house with an incredible view of the city and its night lights. We enjoyed fun drinks and great conversation with the whole team of Five.com, a startup working on a unique conversation app. Every member had just been freshly named cofounder so it was definitely the right night to discover a bit of their tech startup world! Kyle also introduced us to a song that would be stuck in our heads for the next 3 days: “About a week ago, week ago…” Thanks for that! After a couple of beers, we also learned that we were going to sleep in the living room at Duke’s place next to a snake. In a vivarium. But an ACTUAL snake. I honestly thought it was a joke at first. But when we reached his super cool house, Duke gave us a quick tour and introduced us to his roommates (human and reptile), and it proved to be very real…

The following day was true Californian fun with a barbecue, a big surf session in Pacifica, a skateboard session and then some beers in the extremely very hot tub in Duke’s garden. Told you it was a super cool house! All of this with Duke, his roommate Ben and two of his coworkers: Kyle and Nils. Quite the boys crowd hey! Though the day activities were lots of fun, sipping some coronas in a 104 Farenheit jacuzzi was VERY enjoyable. And VERY warm. Let’s just say we were off to bed very quickly after that!

Barbecue at Pacifica
Barbecue at Pacifica
The boys and their surfboards in Pacifica
The boys and their surfboards in Pacifica
Kyle at the skatepark
Kyle at the skatepark
Skateboard session at night
Skateboard session at night

Sunday called for some actual visiting of the city, so we did it ALL:
– Fisherman’s Wharf
– Yet another view of the Golden Gate
– Walking down Lombard street
– Strolling through Chinatown and running into a dragon
– Stopping at Chipotle for lunch: yes we have a list of fast food places to hit, this one has been crossed off the list. And it’s burrito was definitely approved!
– Niketown, because why not
– Taking the cable car: that was realllllly cool. Best way to go up and down the cutest streets of SF is perched on the side of the wagon!
– Walking up and down the street, then up and down, and then up and down.
– Walk along the entire Embarcadero. Yes, that’s a lot of walking.

View of Golden Gate Bridge from SF
View of Golden Gate Bridge from SF
San Francisco homes
San Francisco homes
San Francisco cable car
San Francisco cable car
Steph in a surfboard truck
Steph in a surfboard truck

We even got to catch up with Hedi, Steph’s old classmate from Hetic, over some drinks downtown to chat about the startup community, work in North America, West Coast habits and life. He too is working on a soon to be released app with his team, confirming that SF is the ultimate tech startup hub.

The next days were a lot more chill as we failed getting the morning tickets for Alcatraz two days in a row (the only ones you can get without a reservation weeks in advance.) I guess we didn’t earn it as much as the people who were standing in line at 5am. Who are you people?! But it left us with lots of time to find the very best view of the Golden Gate Bridge in a sea of fog all the way up the hill on the North Side, find the cutest houses of the city on Alamo Square, picnic at the Golden Gate Park, watch the view from Twin Peaks and hang out with Duke and his roommates Ben, Paul and Alex over hot dogs and beers to share road trip stories.

Steph photographing the Golden Gate Bridge
Steph photographing the Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge in the fog
Golden Gate Bridge in the fog
Cute houses in San Francisco
Cute houses in San Francisco
Uphill street in San Francisco
Uphill street in San Francisco
Maeva in Alamo Square
Maeva in Alamo Square
View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks
View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks

Every time we hit a new city, we can’t help but wonder if that would be a place we’d like to live in. We thought about it more than once in the fog city that unites architectural beauty, cultural diversity, West Coast freedom, tech and startup communities, outdoor activities and vibrant city life. Though very busy (yes the hours stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge kind of traumatized us) and Vancouver-like (enough with the vegan yogis already!), SF is just so very unique in its character. So maybe..?

Duke, thanks again so much for inviting us in your lively home, we had a blast during our stay! Rock out the surf and the app-creating! Peace.

Duke, Steph and Maeva in front of Duke's house in Berkeley
Duke, Steph and Maeva in front of Duke’s house in Berkeley

“I will sing in San Francisco if I have to sing in the streets, for I know that the streets of San Francisco are Free.” – Luisa Tetrazzini