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02      It Is Very Frisco

  There is no better way to learn a new place than visiting and observing it.

Some of you might have visited San Francisco in the past. Some of you might have been living there. Some of you might have been born there. One day we decided to take a flight down to SFO. It was our first time to be in San Francisco, California.

Contrary of having to pay five dollars for Air Train to Kennedy, the Air Train at SFO is FOC (Free of Charge). Both Air Trains reminded me of the one at Changi — where it is called Sky Train.

After a two-hour delay on board, we arrived in San Francisco. From the car rental counter to hotel check-in, Filipinos after Filipinos were on the jobs. We even witnessed a Filipino wedding held at the hotel we stayed.

Visiting from a big city like New York City, San Francisco is utterly small with only 49 square miles compared to 304 square miles of the previous. It is easily navigated by car. The city was built in a grid pattern of streets. Main streets like California, Market and Bryan Streets connect to major highways such as Route 101 and 280.

There is a saying ‘First impression lasts’. But there are several first impressions of San Francisco that last from our trip.

While in Japantown, a man who was leaving his parking spot offered us some change for the meter. Speaking of hospitality! Coming from New York, it was unusual to hear a stranger talk to you, let alone paying for your meter.

While walking around Golden Gate Park, a man with his family asked us if we had an elephant pet. Why? Because we were carrying a bag full of peanuts. Another friendly chit-chat from a stranger.

While having lunch on Bryan Street, our waiter explained us from how to get to the Wharf, to how to find parking before a Giants game. What a useful assistance!

Not to mention the uniqueness of the city! Places like Cow Hollow, Nob Hill, North Beach, Castro Street, Mission Dolores, Lombard Street, China Beach, Civic Center, Alamo Square and The Embarcadero that you cannot find anywhere else. Another uniqueness lies on its constant weather between 48°F and 65°F throughout the year.

Other interesting facts from San Francisco, there is no vehicle registration number on any vehicle windshield. Shops close as early as 6PM. The locals do their shopping at specialty stores such as produce store, meat store, florist, deli instead of a place called supermarket. Gays and lesbians are openly represented by Rainbow flag.

The Chinese in San Francisco do not live in Chinatown but approximately 24 squares blocks away from it. Homeless people with cardboard signs can be easily spotted on sidewalks and streets — they are harmless and friendly. Beatnik funkiness exist in North Beach/Little Italy, where a little alley known as Jack Kerouac Street, after the author’s, can be found. There are a number of Karaoke lounges in Japantown. Houses are painted in primary colors such as Blue, Red and Yellow.

The thirtynine-year-old Barry Bonds of SF Giants has recently hit the 672nd home runs at the newly-named SBC Park. Golden Gate Park is the largest man-made park in the world and bigger than Central Park. A 7.1 Loma Prieta earthquake occured in 1989 during the third game of SF Giants versus Oakland Athletics World Series. Hippies, Flower Power and ‘Peace and Love’ are concentrated in Berkeley — a short drive from San Francisco.

Whether you decide to go there one day or move there for good, San Francisco is an oasis of art, culture and pleasant people. It is definitely worth a flight or two.

“One day if I do go to heaven...
I’ll look around and say,
‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco’.”
—Herb Caen