Teen Talk: Senior friends take San Francisco in stride

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Senior year for most high school students seem to be the most unforgettable year, with parents clamoring, “You’ll remember it forever” – after they tell you to go to bed at 10 and tell you your friends have to leave at 5 in the evening. So here’s a moment of praise (or silence) for the seniors everywhere and forever! You sir or madam are becoming an adult, and soon will have to learn how to be responsible for yourself. It’s only a few short months away for most of us.

So, the real question is: when does the handholding really stop? When am I able to actually do anything by myself?

In an outburst of sarcasm to a friend in August, we decided to plan a trip to San Francisco for the winter break. The thing is, three of us actually planned an entire trip off of a joke I made on how nothing could stop our senior year. Here’s the kicker: it was just us three with no parents around.

We meticulously planned this trip for three months and kept our parents very well informed on our progress, budgets and what we planned to do. Then we had a final parent dinner meeting to get absolutely everything ironed out and explained, and, lo and behold, we were on our way!

We rendezvoused at our forward base in Corona, where the crew met up and spent the night to ensure early and proper arrival at John Wayne Airport. On arriving at the airport, we didn’t have to check any bags because we were smart and went carry-ons only. Two of us even had ourselves a giggle at the expense of our third friend not being invited to the TSA pre-check club and having to go through the entire process. I mean, we still had to wait for him, but at least we were waiting in comfort.

And due to the rampant paranoia of one of our members, we had two hours of waiting to kill in this tiny airport. After a bit of nervousness and chills, we were up in the air and over the city.

Our crew landed, and hopped on a series of trains to get into the heart of San Francisco, where our hostel awaited us. Now, I’ve seen the movie “Hostel” and know all their tricks, but after a short walk and seeing some interesting characters, we found our cozy abode nestled in the street next to some old buildings and the intersection. Let me tell you something about hostels: they seem scary, but this place was extremely nice. The staff was very helpful, everyone was smiling and not speaking English, and there was always coffee and tea in the lobby. But we weren’t there to hang out in a lobby,

This would mark the first day: the Day of Walking. We walked. And we walked. And we walked. And then we cried and fell down and crawled.

Our first stop was the Mission District, which took us close to an hour just to reach, and then probably another hour of walking just to find a place to eat authentic Hispanic food. We found one eventually and it was good. But then we decided to walk another hour up the hill to a small cupcake shop for some dessert. To my surprise, we actually did, and those cupcakes were absolutely worth it.

This will mark the second day: the Day of Walking II: Walk Harder. We woke up and had ourselves a nice continental (free) breakfast, and immediately set out to Golden Gate Park. I mean, I thought that’s where we were going, but first we went to a place called Haight-Ashbury, famous for its Hippy stuff. We went to an ice cream parlor and took a picture of the sign, and then we wandered into Golden Gate Park.

We stayed at that park for several hours it seemed, visiting the Conservatory of Flowers and the De Young Art Museum. It was a little out of my expertise but the other two seemed to understand it. We hailed a cab afterwards for a short drive to the Legion of Honor and observed the beautiful art there, seeing a statue called “The Thinker” (very famous) and a Monet piece about water lilies which highlighted our tour.

This marked only about half of our day, as we spent the next couple hours wandering about, looking for an Italian restaurant and settling for Starbucks. The next part was probably one of the biggest highlights of the trip: we climbed a trail that slowly narrowed as you went all the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was beautiful as the sun was setting and the darkness slowly enveloped the bits of light still standing. Walking out on the bridge was gorgeous. Italian food ensued, and we were happy with that.

This will mark the third day: the Day of Walking III: Walk with a Vengeance. To summarize this entire paragraph: we walked an ungodly amount of blocks, got some really awesome coffee, and moved on. We went through Chinatown – all the way through Chinatown, in fact, to Ghirardelli Square to consume three times our combined body mass in chocolate (and subsequently one of us seemed to have reached Nirvana).

We then walked to Fisherman’s Wharf and explored the piers. That’s it, a whole lot of walking and exploring. It was ridiculous, food was delicious, and the day that ended was fantastic. Few words can describe this day, but the blisters on my feet could probably explain more. There was also a lot of hanging out in the lobby.

This will mark the fourth day: Live Free and Walk Hard (I need new jokes). This one was a bit slower because we had so much to do and so little time left, so we prioritized a bit. We went to the nearest trolley stop and climbed on with our handy day passes, which is an iconic thing to do in San Francisco. Clam chowder for all, and raw oysters for me, marked our last real meal together, and then we decided to get our money’s worth from the trolley and rode it all over town.

It probably wasn’t the best thing to do with our time, but I sure enjoyed it, as did the rest. It was a slow and sad day, and leaving was exceptionally bad because it just felt like we needed an extra day or two. It wasn’t an explosive end to an amazing trip, but it seemed to fit the trip well enough since we kind of just wandered about and hit major sites.

There’s a lot more I could say about my trip, and explain so many more things. But all that is needed to be known about our trip: it truly was glorious!

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