If the pandemic has backed me into any corners, it’s been the corner where I HAVE to face shit head on and can’t just pack up my shit and go away for a little while. (‘Cause you know we love escaping to just about any place in the world just so that we can pretend that the same shit we’re running from isn’t waiting for us when we go back home.)
That wasn’t the case in 2019, though. And when the mental shit began to hit the fan, your girl drunk-shopped for plane tickets and found refuge with friends in the wonderful city of San Francisco, California. And yes, drunk-buying plane tickets or drunk-planning trips is a recurring theme with me, just ask my friends. Oh, what a time to reminisce about!
This would be the first trip I traveled alone and I was planning to take advantage of that by acting like a super-mysterious unattainable lady at the airport. And I would’ve put more effort into my character had I not been so stressed about my flight being so delayed that I arrived at San Francisco at like 1 a.m. and still had to wait about an hour more for my luggage to arrive on a different flight. It was a messy start to what I hoped would be an otherwise amazing adventure.
And I was absolutely correct. The rest of the trip was a the perfect spring escape for me — it had unforgettable times with friends, delectable food, fruity frozen drinks at cute bars, a slight allergic reaction to who knows what that caused my eyes to get a little swollen, me slouching in front of millennial art at SFMoMA, a life-changing moment, and my friends’ freaking cute puppies!
A weekend was definitely not enough to see all of San Francisco, but my trusty guides and friends, Monica and Andrea, took me for a fun first ride. First of all, their apartment in the Mission District, where they kindly allowed me to crash for the weekend, had a view and a kitchen that were what dreams are made of. And the hills, man. The goddamned hills! Definitely bring walking shoes and be ready to hit those 10,000 steps daily (or more, really).
One thing that surprised me about San Francisco is the weather. I read that spring is the best time to visit because of the mild temperatures — but isn’t spring the best time to visit anywhere?! When I was planning what to pack for this trip, Monica told me one word: LAYERS. It was at that moment that I realized I didn’t know how to layer up. Insert the emoji with the squiggly worried face — that was me! I ended up packing a couple of sweaters, a hoodie and my leather jacket and I’d say I was fine. Being out in the water on the cruise did make my face feel cold and happy that I had a beanie on me. But later on while walking around, I didn’t feel like I even needed a jacket. Sooooo pack accordingly and believe your friends when they tell you to layer!
I very promptly crossed seeing the Golden Gate Bridge off my San Francisco must-do list. We also spent a couple of chill hours exploring the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and saw art pieces by Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali and more. (Going to art museums whenever I travel is one of my favorite things to do and almost always on my to-do list.) Later, we even gave in to one of those immersive interactive art exhibits — or shall I say … selfie traps?!
For three days, we walked, walked, walked those hills and took all the public transportation rides we could. It was great for my flat ass. I also learned all about Marina bros and how to best avoid them while walking by the Palace of Fine Arts, and also had a random ass conversation about pyramid schemes with one of my Uber drivers.
I also took a short cruise ride to Alcatraz Island and toured the Alcatraz Cellhouse. I really wanted to do the night tour for obvious spooky reasons, but those tickets sold out QUICK. I still did my best to dive deep into my intuitive, otherworldly nature to see if I could ~feel~ anything or anyone … to no avail. I don’t know, man. But I just know spirits have got to still be lingering there. I blame the lack of spooky vibes on the 100 other people also walking around the cell house at the same time.
Now, it’s time for me to start intensely salivating at the memories of all the indulgent, scrumptious, delicious, mouth-watering food that graced my taste buds on this trip. I knew I was in the best of hands because Monica is a top-tier foodie and I put myself wholeheartedly in her hands. I have to tell you, she and the San Francisco food scene did not disappoint one bit.
The most-memorable food moment of the trip goes to Zante’s Pizza and Indian Cuisine, where I had one of the most-delicious plates of Chicken Tikka Masala I’ve ever had (featured in the Tik Tok above). Also, who would have thought that pizza and Indian food would be such a heavenly combination? I still consciously dedicate a couple of moments a day to the memory of Zante’s food. I’d go back in a flash JUST to eat at this restaurant in the Mission District once more.
The 10/10-would-come-back-for-more-on-the-same-day moment goes to Bake Cheese Tart, a specialty store that’s originally from Hokkaido, Japan, and only sells the baked cheese tarts pictured above. And I am not exaggerating: These things changed my whole entire life. They’re SO good that Bake Cheese Tart sells one of their INCOMPARABLE, LIKE-NOTHING-I’VE-EVER-TASTED tarts per second worldwide. Maybe not everyone is a complete cheese freak like I am, but I am telling you — this is a close as it gets to tasting absolute PERFECTION. Clearly, I can go on about these baked cheese tarts forever. God, I miss them.
Strolling around the Mission District reminded me of Sunday shopping with my parents on El Paso Street back in the late 90s with the shops and the occasional conversations in Spanish that dreamily floated to my ears from all around. It was like finding a little piece of home — I’m sure Monica and Andrea would also agree — and I loved it. There, we went to this low-key bar called Latin American Club that donned eclectic piñata art and advertised these huge margaritas that apparently fuck you up. And I just knew I was at the right place because they had a Chapulín Colorado piñata hanging from the ceiling.
On my last day, I ventured out completely on my own. I had originally convinced myself to only use public transportation to get around and see as much as I could before having to head to the airport … until I flaked out of that idea. That crispy-aired cloudy morning, I instead Uber-ed to Pier 7 and walked all the way to the edge for some self-timer photos of my hair on my face thanks to the wind; then, to an empty and still-closed Chinatown where I got sad (it was too early); then, to the top of Lombard Street to cross yet another must-do off my list.
My hours-long solo adventure in the streets of San Francisco concluded my short spring trip. I’m so eternally grateful for these bad asses who put up with me for a whole weekend. It’s been more than a year since this trip but it’s still close to my hard-shell Cancer heart.
The journey home was slightly less than pleasant as my flight was delayed for around two hours, which caused me to miss my connecting flight. Then, that connecting flight was rerouted to another city before even heading to El Paso. I ended up arriving home past midnight and I had to go to work the next day. We don’t believe in ragrets in this household, and this hiccup absolutely did not overshadow the fuckin’ magnificent time I had with my friends in San Francisco.
I’ve been really missing my friends lately and really missing a life where I wasn’t in a constant state of existential dread. But writing about this trip granted me a little escapism and it made me feel quite good for a moment. I hope you found a little escapism on this post too. Stay safe, mask up, take care of each other. And for now, that is all!