In honor of the recent anniversary of our departure from Zurich, I present you my second set of two lists: five things that I love about San Francisco and five things that I loathe from my new home.
Five Things I Love About San Francisco
5. The Golden Gate Bridge
Cheesy as it may sound, I love the Golden Gate Bridge. Some iconic monuments simply live up to the hype. Whether the view is from Crissy Field or from the Bay Bridge, I get psyched about spotting it every time. And I love seeing it draped in fog too.
4. The San Francisco Public Library
The San Francisco Public Library still feels like it’s thriving even though everything else in this city (and state) is underfunded. I’ve read so many great books thanks to hold-request system. Our neighborhood library branch has a wonderful children’s room with a great selection of board books for the Vachette. The librarians are happy to let her rummage through them. And her child library card does not get penalized with fines for overdue books. Click here for more happy SF Library thoughts.
3. The Food and the Coffee.
San Francisco is foodie paradise: amazing produce, restaurants galore, and fine coffee that holds it own to anything Italy serves. My personal favorite… getting burritos in the Mission at either Taqueria Cancun or Papalote (I highly recommend Papalote’s salsa which you can order here.) And have I ever given a proper shout-out to the Noe Valley Bakery which is right on my street?
2. The Fog
Living in Noe Valley, I usually see the fog from afar, but that doesn’t hinder my fascination with it. It blows in from the Pacific ocean like a live entity slowly inching its way across the city until it is completely entrenched. It often reaches the top of Twin Peaks in the late afternoon, so that the Vachette and I can feel it in the wind when we go to the closest neighborhood playground.
1. (for lack of a better term) The Friendliness
The people is San Francisco, for the most part, are so warm, welcoming and friendly. In the course of a year, I’ve made some lovely friends. Niko and I also have gotten to know our neighbors, something that we NEVER managed to do in Zurich. At the playground, parents talk to each other (unless you’re a European expat; then you keep to yourself.) I forgot how nice small talk can be. Of course, it helps to be the parent of an adorable toddler who merits lots of waves, smiles and hellos.
Five Things I Loathe About San Francisco
California roads are renowned for their congestion. US-101, the highway that links San Francisco, San Jose, and a majority of towns in the Peninsula, aka Silicon Valley, does not disappoint in the traffic department. With four lanes running in each direction, it is a clogged stretch of misery, or, at rush hour, a parking lot. Even though my GPS insists its the best route, I avoid the road at all costs.
4. The Hills
Built on some seriously hilly territory, San Francisco makes Zurich look Flanders-style flat. Tourists would likely find Lombard Street and other comparably incline-gifted roads less appealing if they had to lug a toddler up them. I attest that it is not a fun experience.
3. The Dog Obsession
I admit I am not a pet person. However, many San Franciscans take their canine love a little too far. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Nobody beats San Francisco when it comes to doting on dogs. It’s a city with luxury dog hotels, rooftop dog cocktail parties, a pet cemetery and City Hall plans to turn dog droppings into alternative energy. And the urban legend is actually true: Dogs outnumber children in the City by the Bay.
I get particularly irritated with people who don’t follow leash laws. I don’t care how well behaved your animal is. If the sign says animals must be leashed, then either put the leash on or go to one of the plentiful leash-free dog areas in the city. I keep my child, the one who someday will finance your social security checks, from going where she’s not supposed to. Do the same with your animal.
2. The Public Transport
San Francisco has at least three variants of public transport: the BART (subway system connecting the city to the East Bay), the MUNI (the buses, trams, and famous cable cars), and the CalTrain (the commuter rail connecting the city to Silicon Valley and San Jose). These three variants are run by three different organizations who do not coordinate with each other. I can just see the Swiss heart attacks induced by such inefficiency.
My main beef with SF’s public transport is the stroller policy. From MUNI’s customer tips webpage:
If a baby stroller is allowed on board, the child must be removed from the stroller and the stroller must be folded up while it is on the vehicle.
Why don’t I use my third mutant arm to handle the folded stroller while I use my other two hands to deal with my toddler when boarding MUNI? For a city that prides itself on its green ways, this policy seems counterintuitive. Way to discourage car-use, San Francisco.
However, according to this article, this rule is on its way out, though no one has any idea when the change will be implemented. So I’ll believe it when I see it.
1. The Distance
San Francisco is:
- 2438 miles (3923 km) from Niko’s parents
- 2515 miles (4047 km) from my parents
- 2715 miles (4368 km) from my best friend
- 5833 miles (9386 km) from Zurich
- 7009 miles (11,279 km) from Karpathos
I think the numbers speak for themselves. How I long to no longer have to fly coach!