Flirting with San Francisco

Travel, like dating, is an exercise in possibilities. A thrilling rendezvous with a new city is all about getting to know each other, searching for a common connection. Do I like how this place makes me feel? Could I see myself, working, playing, and living here? Could I make a long-term commitment?

It’s a game that I’m always playing on some level, and it’s interesting to see how different cities stack up (I’m unashamedly a city girl, so that narrows the world down a bit already). I would live in Rome (maybe not forever, but for awhile), but not Florence. Budapest, but not Prague. Still, it’s rare for me to stumble across a city that I would seriously consider relocating to.

San Francisco is one of those cities. I fell for it hard and fast.

I wasn’t really expecting it. I could barely remember my first visit some 15 years ago. Vague impressions of sea lions and Alcatraz were all that really remained. When I decided to visit my college buddy Susan, who lives across the bay in Oakland, I was happy to see San Francisco again, but it was never a priority.

My first morning in town, Susan drove me out and over the Golden Gate Bridge, the cities most beautiful and famous landmark. In an uncharacteristically lucky move, the chilly rains had stopped the day of my arrival and given way to clear blue weather, which showered me my entire stay. The bridge was crisp, and iconic against the sunny bay and I knew right away that I was in trouble.

Over the next few days we did the sightseeing thing, both in and around the city (more on this later). The better I got to know the city the more I liked. There were mundane things, like how friendly everyone was, the clean and chill public transport system, the fact that everyone seemed to be walking a dog.  Then the more romantic moments: rocking out at a Muse concert or standing knee deep in the Pacific in a party dress at 3 am.

As Susan drove me to the airport Saturday evening, I watched in awe as one of the most colorful sunsets I have ever seen stretched across the bay. The Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline were highlighted against a rainbow spectrum of colors. I felt as if the city was beseeching me to stay. To my surprise I actually felt real sadness.

The truth is, I’m ready to move on from Washington. DC, it’s not you, it’s me. You are a fantastic, beautiful and interesting place with a lot to offer the right person. But it’s not me. After spending most of the past 25 years together, I’m ready to move on.

I’ve been looking around for a new home on a subtle level for some time now- flirting with different ideas for once I return from my big trip. I’m not saying San Francisco is the one; it could still be London (my old flame) or maybe somewhere I haven’t even met yet. But if this trip proved anything it’s that I’m on the market. I’m ready to make that leap- with the right place of course.

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46 Responses to Flirting with San Francisco

  1. Gray April 20, 2010 at 8:37 AM #

    LOL, I love the way you have likened travel to dating. It totally feels like that sometimes when you travel, especially the bit about possibilities. And you are right, the sunsets out West are just so vivid compared the ones in the East. You would definitely be trading up when it comes to weather.
    .-= Gray´s last blog ..Shiny Travel Objects: April 18, 2010 =-.

    • Steph April 20, 2010 at 9:33 AM #

      Well I figure even if my actual dating life is dead in the water these days I can still get around somehow!

    • Becs April 21, 2010 at 4:40 PM #

      i don’t know if i agree re: weather. it never gets very cold (no snow) but they only get like a month or so of sort of warm weather. never gets nearly as hot as DC does in the summer.

      it’s a fairly consistance 60-ish degrees (and rain) all year round. from nov to june, any day with no rain is a good one!

      • Steph April 21, 2010 at 6:30 PM #

        Fair enough but not as hot as DC is a bonus point for me! I hate the snow and I hate 90 degree humidity. Consistancy I can live with.

  2. travelgirl007 April 20, 2010 at 12:05 PM #

    LOVE your post about my city. And you just scratched the surface.

    • Steph April 20, 2010 at 3:03 PM #

      From your suggestions on twitter I can see I have a lot to come back for!

  3. Dave April 20, 2010 at 12:18 PM #

    San Francisco is a great city! Probably it would be one of my top cities in the US to live, though it is d*mn expensive.

    My current residence of Munich is amazing. 1h from the Alps, a huge park in city center, real nightlife and lots of culture, AND two weeks a year of the original Oktoberfest – indescribable 🙂
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..5 Most Critical Items in my Backpack =-.

    • Steph April 20, 2010 at 5:17 PM #

      It seems like all the cities I love are damn expensive, blah. Munich sounds really neat though!

  4. Josh | The Wander Project April 20, 2010 at 5:38 PM #

    “Travel, like dating, is an exercise in possibilities.” That’s an excellent Lead! SF seems great; if I were to abandon NYC for the West Coast, I’d have to look at San Fran and Portland, I think.

    @ Dave: Plus one for Munich. I was there visiting some friends last year and loved it! An hour’s train ride lets you spend the day hiking, then puts you back in the city center in time for dinner and drinks… not a bad setup at all.

    • Steph April 20, 2010 at 9:01 PM #

      Thanks! Been toying with this analogy for awhile actually. I also like the look of Portland, but I haven’t been since I was 8 or so.

  5. floreta April 20, 2010 at 8:04 PM #

    that’s exactly how I feel!! And I’m tentatively planning (hoping) to move there after my Asia adventure!
    .-= floreta´s last blog ..First Lesson: Mindfulness =-.

    • Steph April 20, 2010 at 8:59 PM #

      Maybe we can have a Travel Tweet-Up there in a few years!

  6. Erin April 20, 2010 at 9:06 PM #

    We fell in love with San Francisco too. The sunny weather, easy access to countryside, fresh produce, huge range of quality vegetarian & vegan restaurants, independent shops & cafes, friendly people, arts scene etc. It´s a fantatsic city. Now we just have to figure out a way to afford to live there for a while!

    • Steph April 21, 2010 at 9:24 AM #

      Yeah the expense is the real challenge!

  7. Alouise April 20, 2010 at 9:40 PM #

    I haven’t been to San Francisco yet, but this post makes me want to go. I’m more of a city person as well, I could live in Seattle, London or New York. Seattle was a surprise for me because I never had a desire to go there until a roadtrip with a friend a couple years ago. But when I was there I loved it, definitely can’t wait to go back.
    .-= Alouise´s last blog ..Souvenirs =-.

    • Steph April 21, 2010 at 9:24 AM #

      I haven’t been to Seattle in many years but it left an impression on 8 year old me so I suspect I’d still like it! It’s fun to stumble across places you connect with, isn’t it.

  8. Shannon OD April 20, 2010 at 10:46 PM #

    You hit it right on the nose Steph! I love SF and have long considered moving to that area when I make it back to the states and perhaps settle down. There is just something really I love about the city – the vibe, the ppl, and – yes, the sunsets 🙂
    .-= Shannon OD´s last blog ..A Little Tour…Coffee’s Amazingness Knows No Bounds =-.

    • Steph April 21, 2010 at 9:23 AM #

      Yeah I really noticed the east coast versus west coast vibe and attitude. People just seemed a lot more relaxed than they do here.

  9. Susan April 21, 2010 at 4:26 AM #

    I promise I, and San Francisco will always take your calls/texts. We are in favor of an open no-pressure relationship! I’m glad you had an awesome time, and come back anytime/always – there is soo much more to see.

    • Steph April 21, 2010 at 9:22 AM #


  10. Andrew April 21, 2010 at 11:29 AM #

    I love San Francisco. I only got to spend 48 hours there a few years back, but also fell quickly for the City by the Bay.

    I can not believe you are moving on from London? You two seemed to be perfect for each other. But I guess people change and grow as the years go on, so maybe you and SF will live happily ever after.

    …until you meet your next great city.

    • Steph April 21, 2010 at 11:31 AM #

      With so many great cities and possibilities out there how can I ever settle down with just one?!

      Maybe wanderlust is a form of commitment-phobia… I think I have my next blog post.

  11. Candice April 21, 2010 at 11:36 AM #

    Hehehe, this post made me smile. Isn’t it lovely to fall for a new place? And just between you and me, I’ve also been searching for a new life partner…
    .-= Candice´s last blog ..A Newfoundland Language Lesson Part 2: Nunny-Fudgers =-.

    • Steph April 21, 2010 at 2:38 PM #

      we are on the prowl!

  12. Becs April 21, 2010 at 4:43 PM #

    either way, a change from DC when you get back from your trip is a must.

    i worked and travelled overseas for 2 years, only to come back to my parents house (cheap rent, especially with no job) and a year later, still in the same city as before i left. and i really really don’t like it here (los angeles). travel changed me how? apparently not much. highly recc the change when you return, if you can afford it (something to add to your budget?).

    • Steph April 21, 2010 at 6:31 PM #

      Yeah I’m trying to keep that in mind as I plan ahead. Don’t really want to live at home anymore at all.

  13. Abbie April 21, 2010 at 8:13 PM #

    i LOVE San Fran too!!!
    .-= Abbie´s last blog ..C’mon Baby Light My Fire =-.

    • Steph April 21, 2010 at 10:10 PM #

      it sure seems to be popular!

  14. ehalvey April 21, 2010 at 9:42 PM #

    I would live in a cardboard box in SF. I LOVE the whole feel of it. But after spending the last few days in DC, I could live there, too! I think I’m drawn to walkable places with lots of museums. No more Nashville, please!!!!!!
    .-= ehalvey´s last blog ..I’ll Take DC Art Museums for $800 =-.

    • Steph April 21, 2010 at 10:09 PM #

      Yeah DC IS pretty great, I can’t deny it.

  15. Michael April 21, 2010 at 10:45 PM #

    You know, I’ve actually never been to the west coast. I’m actually dying to go this year as soon as I see a cheap flight come my way from JFK. Waiting for that less then $200 fare again. I’ve been hawking flights to anywhere west coast to go this summer. I’ve certainly met more travelers that have seen most of the USA then I have but then again I’ve seen more of their country then they have of theirs.
    .-= Michael´s last blog ..GoLite Product Review – Where Green and Light Collide =-.

    • Steph April 22, 2010 at 9:53 AM #

      The US has some truly terrific stuff to see! I did a lot of travel around the US as a kid and now I’ve been going back and revisiting all these places. Pretty amazing!

  16. Joya April 22, 2010 at 12:57 AM #

    Hi Steph, I’m glad you liked SF. I’ve lived here all my life but feel like I am rediscovering it now in my 20s and I’m enjoying it so it’s no surprise lots of my childhood friends move back home. We’re pretty loyal to our city by the bay!
    .-= Joya´s last blog ..Where Am I Traveling to Next? It’s Closer Than You Think =-.

    • Steph April 22, 2010 at 9:24 AM #

      Yeah most of my high school friends are back in the DC area and there was definitely a rediscovery after college. It’s three years out and people seem to be clearing out though, maybe the love ahs worn off?

  17. Christine April 24, 2010 at 11:06 AM #

    Ohhhh San Francisco. I’ve flirted with “the city” for my entire life: shopping there every Christmas, working there a few days a month while living in Silicon Valley, going out with friends on weekends. It’s a fabulous city, but perhaps because I know it so well, it still hasn’t wowed me. it’s like that old friend who you know is always there, but because it’s always there, you’re waiting for some grand romantic gesture before you take the leap. Glad you enjoyed your trip out West 🙂
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..And this, my dear, is what they call an adventure =-.

    • Steph April 24, 2010 at 3:47 PM #

      Nicely said! I am really starting to love this metaphor.

  18. marta April 27, 2010 at 11:52 AM #

    SF is gorgeous! If it wasn’t for Chris always on my site I would have felt in love with San Francisco too 🙂
    .-= marta´s last blog ..People watching in New York City =-.

  19. Monica May 5, 2010 at 9:50 PM #

    SF is such a charming city. After reading this post, I have a sudden urge to drive down Lombard Street really, really fast. Lol I think I just need an adrenaline rush.

    I’m praying that I get into Berkeley so I can move to SF. *Fingers crossed!

    • Steph May 6, 2010 at 9:23 AM #

      Yes! More people I can drop in and visit!

  20. Stephanie J. January 21, 2011 at 3:46 PM #

    I’ve lived here four years and I too am ready to move on. This city is no longer for me, kind of like how Washington DC isn’t for you anymore. It rains all the time, there are rarely seasons here (unless you count winter and a perpetual rainy season) and if you don’t have a car while living in the city, it makes it a challenge to get over the Golden Gate Bridge. Count on your friends to give you rides if you go hiking that way. And of course, if you are willing to pay the astronimical rent or live in the “hipster” Mission, I guess you have it made.

    I vote London!

    • Steph January 23, 2011 at 1:07 AM #

      It’s funny how different things do it for different people. Hope you find what you’re looking for!

  21. Edger May 14, 2011 at 5:34 PM #

    Funny that you tweeted this post today…I lived in SF for seven years, have been gone for almost four, visit a few times a year and happen to be here right now and remebered this post and was thinking about your analogy after walking from almost one side of the city to the other yesterday. I lucked into two sunny days and was thinking about all the things and people I love here, but surprisingly, I wasn’t thinking about wanting to move back. San Francisco is my first love, but it turns out we weren’t quite meant to be. I needed to leave it, spend time dating Philly, Seattle and Austin, and take some longer trips abroad to find my current love, Portland. But I’m so happy that this city and I have been able to stay friends!

    • Steph May 17, 2011 at 9:41 AM #

      Wow, way to take the analogy another step forward! Glad you guys still have a good relationship.

  22. Vishal June 21, 2011 at 4:03 PM #

    Great! NYC and SF. My two favorite American cities. Venice and Paris being my two international favorite cities.

    • Steph June 21, 2011 at 11:05 PM #

      All good choices!


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