Roman Malanke

If You’re Going to San Francisco…

The fun on my trip started back in Kyiv with the taxi ride. In the middle of Easter night I ordered a cab to pick me up from home and take to the airport. When I was getting inside the car I heard a song playing which was very unusual for taxi drivers in Kyiv. It sang: “If you’re going to San Francisco be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…” I looked at the driver with amazement and told him about this incredible coincidence. You still don’t believe that universe knows everything? I do, for sure.

The long two-leg flight passed easy. Stopover in Amsterdam gave a chance to catch a glimpse of the Netherlands and get evidence that I do want to visit Holland in future. I arrived in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon and was met by rain. Half an hour subway ride from the airport to downtown, walking a couple of blocks and I am in the modest hostel called Adelaide. The place is a bit old and worn-out but fresh free breakfasts and free Wi-Fi made my stay there pleasant.

The next four days I was on vacation so I couldn’t lose the opportunity to see major tourist attractions in the city. I went to Pier 33, saw Alcatraz, walked on Golden Gate Bridge, climbed on Telegraph Hill and wandered around China Town. The city is pretty small, so one can see a lot just by walking. But if necessary, convenient and easy to understand public transportation system can help to get to remote destinations. It’s interesting that there are several independent transport authorities operating in San Francisco and the Bay Area. And, of course, I checked out all of those — MUNI (busses, trolleys and trams), BART (subway) and CalTrain (trains going south of Bay Area).

As a keen salsa learner I couldn’t miss a chance to see how it is danced in California. Having done little research on the Internet I found out that one of the best places to dance salsa in the Bay Area is the club called Cafe Cocomo. So I went there on Monday evening, took a class for beginners and stayed for the disco. To tell the truth, I wasn’t impressed much by either the class or the disco. Maybe that’s because Monday is a kind of “losers’ day” there, I don’t know. But what we have in Ukraine is much better than what I’ve seen there, that’s for sure.

One of the other things from my traveler’s wish list that I accomplished was visiting Stanford University campus. It took one hour ride on CalTrain from San Francisco down to Palo Alto and 15 minutes walk from the train station to get to one of the coolest university campuses I’ve ever seen. The atmosphere there is very cozy and inspiring. If I lived in the Bay Area I would certainly come there once in a while during summer to relax on the green grass with a good book.

My vacation was officially over on Thursday night with beginning of the annual meeting hosted by my company (which was by the way primary reason for my visit). But to tell that the fun was over then would be to lie. Not only the meetings themselves were very productive and useful but also the informal part included such exiting things as dinner cruise around Alcatraz and under Gold Gate Bridge, and attending baseball game with San Francisco Giants.

So I must say that I really enjoyed my stay in this wonderful city by the bay and I will definitely come back here some day. Now sitting in the airport I’m saying good bye to San Francisco and the state of California moving to my next destination — Seattle — where I’m going to spend four days working with my American colleagues. And of course I’m looking forward to see what’s interesting is there in the land of Kurt Cobain.