Last Friday I wanted to make a plan to visit some new place for my 2 weeks-long holiday and finally settled in on San Francisco at the last-minute. It was difficult to make that choice since I don’t have a driver’s license which obviously meant that I had to ask someone for ride or choose one of the public transports. Flights were not in the choice list since last-minute tickets are super crazy expensive, especially during the holidays! Hence, as suggested by a co-worker, I decided to give Amtrak a try. Now going by train meant longer time but when I compared the time between a car and a train I found out that it was not that big a deal and the price was almost similar plus the train would be going along the coast and that meant more scenic views!
The problem was, the train was only till Santa Barbara and I had to take a bus from there to San Francisco. The duration of the journey was something like 5:30 hours for the train and 7:45 hours for the bus totaling up to around 13 hours or so! It was going to be tiring for sure, but, exciting since I was going alone which meant maximum freedom and choices. With that settled, now it was time for me to book lodging for the days I was going to be present there. I was confused initially, when another friend of mine suggested using airbnb.com which I had never heard of earlier. I browsed through some of the listings and they seemed fairly cheap for the place I was going to be in. I soon booked for 5 days from the 21st to the 26th at a place which offered me free dinner and costed only around 55$/night in a very noise-free place. With that part completed, I booked my ticket for Sunday at 6:05 AM and asked a friend to drop me early morning at 5:30. Needless to say, the return from San Francisco was also early morning at 6:35 AM!
With everything done, my bags packed with warm clothes and my camera bag with all my lenses and filter accessories, I left with my friend to the railway station on Sunday morning. I boarded the Pacific Surfliner which took me all the way from San Diego to Santa Barbara stopping at multiple places including Los Angeles and Anaheim (Disneyland) where some pretty girls boarded. (not that I had anything to do with them; I just appreciate beauty, you know! 😉 )
The train went on the coast from San Diego till Irvine after which, it started inwards towards LA and went inland till Moorpark. The coast line was really beautiful to look at with the Sun just coming up. It is indeed a very scenic and wonderful route to drive by, as all reviews online might suggest! I had some coffee and cookies for breakfast since Amtrak decided to throw away their nice veggie menu which is displayed on their site, for something more modern with meat in everything.
I should’ve expected that but oh well… For lunch, they had nothing without meat other than something called Farmer’s salad which looked like this:
I thought they used to call it Garden salad or something! Wonder which farmer started eating that to change its name!
I had the opportunity to shoot some photos through the safety glass covered train and tinted bus windows. Here are some of them.
The bus was the not-so-easy thing to do. I always like train rides much more than bus rides since they give you room to walk and do stuff rather than being put into a cramped corner. Even though the Amtrak bus had ample leg space, it just didn’t feel as nice as the train plus, it was long…. very long for me! It did stop at two places for a short 2 minutes break at the first and a 10 minutes break at the next where we could buy something to eat! Some of the bus journey was along the coast especially along the beautiful San Luis Obispo coastline. One place which really fascinated me along the journey was a small town called Solvang. It was really beautiful with a little European look and feel to it. 🙂
We passed a lot of wineries and lush green countryside till we finally hit the bay area. The bus reached San Francisco around 15 minutes early than it was supposed to, which was surprising considering the fact that the train also reached early that morning!
Overall, it was a good trip reaching the place but, getting to where I was going to stay was a pain, a real pain!
One thing I learnt during this time trying to get to the house where I was supposed to rest was, never to ask a guy, sitting at a bus stop for several minutes doing nothing, for directions! That guy didn’t even know where he was sitting! I asked him the station to catch an ‘M’ line which the wonderful google maps didn’t even say was a train or a bus. ( Well, partly my fault since I didn’t concentrate enough and squeeze my eye right to see the symbol difference for a bus and a train on my mobile!) I spent a good 30 minutes circling around the same place and he kept telling me to go 2-3 blocks down every single time! I went and came back multiple times since somehow I didn’t feel that what he said was quite right till after 30 minutes of sweating, carrying my suitcase and backpack, wearing a heavy jacket; a good construction worker made me realize that the place was a metro underground station and that it was right next to that guy sitting there for the past 30 minutes! It was just 1 foot away from him! Sheesh!
I finally got down and thankfully, since the public transport is wonderful in San Francisco, I got the train to the place. Now, the route from the train station home was also messed up since it had a few forks in the middle. This time, the lights in the area were dead with just 1 light per block glowing and sometimes even that was non-existent! This made searching the place even more difficult! After another 20 minutes of circling, I finally reached the place I was supposed to go to. I tried calling the landlady but somehow she had texted me the correct number with two digits swapped which never worked! I was puffing and panting all the way since it was an uphill and I didn’t know where to knock. Somehow, I managed to find something that looked like a door in the middle of the night and rang the bell and she welcomed me home. Finally!
I met some people who were also in there and had my dinner which was quite good, given the fact that I informed her I was a vegetarian just 2 days before I came!
The house had some basic but quite unique rules! Doors and windows secured by alarms so none could be opened without the proper code; if done so, an instant call from the local Police department came up after which the cops come in person! Lights should be turned off immediately after going up/down the stairs, shower only once a day because California is in a drought; all this within a 12 bedroom 5 bath flat which was vertically laid instead of being a conventional horizontal mansion!!! Oh well, at-least I reached home safe that night!
And so, my zeroth day finally ended with me going to sleep immediately after dinner!
And of course, I took tons of pictures every day so, I will be linking them here to the blog posts with more coming in for each of the 5 days I was present there. Hope you like it. 🙂
The link to this album is here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dheerpics/sets/72157649905897736/
Please check them out if you are interested and leave any feedback/comments. 🙂
During this trip, there were a few things I learnt:
- Tinted windows are great polarizers for photography provided the lights within the bus are off!
- Double walled windows inside trains are ridiculously hard to focus through with a camera and are often dirty!
- Pretty girls with cute faces who look like anime characters, are generally from China and not from Japan!
- Never ask a man who looks lost and has nothing to do, for directions! He may not even know where he sits!
- Public transportation in San Francisco is really good compared to San Diego!
And as usual, if you were wondering where the music was coming from, it was right here:
One of my favorite anime music tracks. Hope you like it. 🙂
Please do comment if you have ever taken such an interesting trip on your own/ with your family somewhere and share your opinions. ^_^