I was prepared for a couple of things: the foggy “summer” weather, any form of mustache, the standard phrase: “There is an app for this” and the mouth-watering, inescapable amount of fresh “good-for-you” food.
And then there were other things that came wrapped up in a huge, fat “in your face” package…with a bold ribbon!
I had the luck to stay at my friends place the entire summer, who made sure I skipped all the touristy, sugar-coated fluff and jumped right into the real life of this diverse playground for hipsters, techies, smoothie- and raw-food enthusiasts, wantrepreneurs, actual entrepreneurs, fabulous pride people, coffee worshipers and beer brewers!
On my first day in SF, friends took me to Dolores Park…two things caught my undivided attention: the smell of weed and a rainbow-minded community manifested through hundreds of extremely good-looking men in very tight shirts (slightly too short?…naa, wear whatever you want, its SF)!
“Oh, interesting!” became my standard phrase for the next days, weeks and months! On that day we started drinking beer and wine at an hour of the day (2 pm…!”§$%&/(!!) which was not very compatible with German standards (standards I threw overboard quickly). A concept I would later on get to know and enjoy under the term: “sunday funday”! You start with a brunch and Mimosas and then slide effortlessly into the many independent breweries and bars of the city…only to eventually end up with shots of Fireball (headache mixed with cinnamon) at a friends place! But 2 pm is not the standard…it can also be 9 am as seen on Bay to Breakers! After all the actual runners pass the running route at around 8 am, the masqueraded liquidity lovers take over the streets, walk their costumes and make sure the level of liquidity stays constant over the entire morning…(and afternoon if you’re a pro rather than a poor SF freshman).
Apart from their beer adoration, manifested in many independent, brick-wall breweries throughout the city, San Franciscans love coffee….no wait, not just coffee…drib coffee, dark, medium or light roast with lovely names such as Heaven of Canopy, Dancing Water and Greater Alarm…and what an Alarm it is! After a cup of Philz – undoubtedly the most famous coffee establishment in SF, you can take 5 German shepherds for a walk ! The coffee connaisseurs are widespread throughout the entire city and apart from many independent, ridiculously hip coffee spots, Philz is a synonym for the creative hipster and hard-working entrepreneur. Then there is Blue Bottle Coffee, which attracts a long line of loyal followers like a sect leader throughout the entire day…is it really ONLY coffee?? Anyways…both of them are amazing and keep my wallet light!
Only Baristas with style are allowed to brew a real cup of Philz!
The usual line of the “Blue Bottle sect” followers
Due to their focus on health and fitness, SF locals are crazy about good, healthy, sustainable green food. But it’s not only somehow “healthy”…it is gluten-free, lactose-free, locally sourced, organic (and only organic – everything else is not even considered food), GMO-free and you have always the option to throw in some kale or quinoa (just to be save!). The amount of fresh and incredibly delicious food is mouthwatering…every step is a temptation! From dried bacon in dark chocolate to salt&pepper ice cream…your taste buds get pleasantly kicked all the time. Street-food and food trucks are another big thing…Vietnamese, Indian, Korean, Peruvian, Spanish, Caribbean – the World at your fingertips…and probably on your hips!
Then there is the startup and tech scene! I was lucky to experience the Startup scene from within during my internship at one of the hot music startups in SF. As an enthusiastic follower of Techcrunch and Mashable it just blows your mind if you randomly walk by the office of Yelp and Airbnb! It takes some self control to not run inside and take pictures like a 15-year-old-selfie-princess to send it to your startup enthusiastic friends back home. Oh…and then there are new apps coming out every day! Apps to loose weight (like lose it, which makes your lovely roommates turn down dinner because they “ran out of calories for today”) , apps to spot locals with common interests -either for networking (Weave) or “bedworking” (Tinder, Grinder), apps to send annoying messages to your friends (Yo?!) or apps to share secrets anonymously with friends and strangers! Life can be so simple and easy!
The observation wouldn’t be complete without the most fabulous district if SF – CASTRO, baby! Coined as the “gayest place on earth” by a dear gay friend of mine, it quickly became my favorite spot in the city for nightlife, sunday funday and people watching. If you walk into a club with male strippers, cheap drinks, girly party music and no man cares about your dress or high heels while your male friends are checked out within seconds, you know – you are in one of the most fun party spots on earth! The atmosphere is warm, welcoming and for the first time I understood what “no filters” during a conversation really meant! A huge event for the Castro once a year is Pink Saturday. While the parade holds many surprises and great costumes, (the best costume: my dear crazy (straight) friend who wrote a “HARDER” on his lower back!!), my main learning and observation was that the pride parade and mindset was not only for gay people…it is also a sign to all San Franciscans to show who they really are and feel comfortable with it! Maybe this is why so many people absolutely adore this city.
Another group of people I got to know and love in SF – police officers! Crossing the streets during red light is not always a smart decision…it is even less smart if a police car is standing right next to you! (why are American police cars white and so undercover anyway???!!!!)…The nice police man pulled me off the bus in which I walked, unknowingly of any guilt after I crossed the streets. “Miss, we gotta talk..come out!”…for the next 10 minutes I felt like a school girl as the caring police man reminded me of the dangers of jaywalking. After I reminded myself a couple of times to shut up when he asked me how German police officers would react to such a misbehave (honestly, they don’t give a ****), I got my jaywalking ticket and a notice to appear in traffic court! Obviously SF is a playground for all kinds of new experiences.