How did my family decide to travel to San Francisco in the summer of 2011? Did we make a list of all the interesting places we wanted to see and discuss the numerous possibilities? No, it was because we couldn't seem to get Train's song, "Save Me, San Francisco," out of our heads for about a month. Is that a silly reason to travel someplace? Of course. But it turned out to be one of the best vacations we've ever had.
In the beginning of May, my mom, dad, brother, and I departed from sunny Florida and flew to foggy San Francisco. It was the farthest we have traveled as a family; since we live in Florida and are originally from Michigan, we never really ventured outside of the Eastern United States.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
After a harrowing taxi ride to the house we were renting (the taxi driver didn't brake at all while turning corners; it was like a roller-coaster!) I decided that, instead of unpacking, I would explore around a bit. We were staying in a roomy, ground floor, apartment style house. When I ventured up the narrow, swirling outdoor staircase to the roof, I was stunned by the gorgeous, unexpected panoramic view of the city. To my right I saw Coit Tower, dominating the monstrous trees surrounding it, straight ahead was Alcatraz, which looked like it was floating in the water, and to my left was the Golden Gate Bridge, shrouded in mist. All around were houses just like ours: tall, colorful, quaint, and absolutely perfect for a ten day adventure.
When we set out to explore on our first day, we instantly noticed how much walking one did in the city. No problem; we're in excellent shape and enjoy traveling to walkable cities. However, we didn't consider San Francisco's terrain. Being from a suburban neighborhood in Florida, we drive most places, and when we walk, we never have to endure walking uphill and downhill. Needless to say, we were exhausted after walking from the house to Fisherman's Warf and longing for Florida's wonderful, flat sidewalks!
On our second-to-last day in San Francisco, we took a boat out to Alcatraz Island and toured the prison. It had always fascinated me and I was thrilled at the chance to go inside. I wasn't disappointed; it was eerie and unembellished, with echoing, stark walls that, even with the clusters of tourists, still seemed abandoned. It was by far one of the most interesting places I've been and I felt like I was stepping back into history.
The best parts of the trip? Playing old-fashioned arcade games in a giant warehouse in Fisherman's Warf, going to Ripley's Believe It Or Not! museum, sitting on a fence in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and feeling the bone-biting breeze, exploring Muir Woods, the most mythical, enchanting place I've ever been, climbing up (and down) Coit Tower, eating fresh strawberries from a fruit stand in Pier 39, watching the San Jose Sharks play the Detroit Red Wings (our team!) on tv for our last few nights, pretending like I was a prisoner trying to escape from Alcatraz, wandering around Chinatown, and basking in the sun-lit, breezy city by the bay.