It was exactly to the day 11 years ago today that I stepped on a plane at Munich airport, and with that move I took three massive steps at once in my own life:
- It was my first solo trip
- It was my first trip crossing an ocean taking me outside of Europe
- It was my first time in the States
and basically, there was no hope for me afterward. The shy, mousy little 22-year-old me fell in love with San Francisco at first sight, and with the rest of California thereafter. She was hooked on travelling, exploring the world, because there was so much more to see outside of her comfort zone. She also realised she wasn’t so shy and mousy after all, because when you’re 22 and you’re travelling through a completely foreign country by yourself, using a foreign language you’re not 100% secure in, builds and strengthens your character and self-confidence like Captain America builds his biceps.
I’m not even ashamed talking about myself in the third person here because it does feel like the girl who got on that plane on the 21st March 2006, was not the same person I am today. In fact, I know she was someone else than present me, but this is a good thing. By travelling to San Francisco / driving through California in a car by myself I H A D to come out of my shell. I had to talk to strangers, ask for directions, for help, and make friends to hang out with in the hostels. I was forcing myself to socialise and give less shits about what people think about me, and for the first time it didn’t feel like a chore, it was fun and I enjoyed putting myself into that awkward position. To this day, only travelling can do this – putting me in awkward positions which under normal circumstances I would be totally annoyed/embarrassed/anxious about but making me think like it is the best thing that could have happened to me.
Like that time when I got lost on Highway 1 due to a road closure and I had to ask for directions in a remote gas station, and the only person who was able to help me out was the one person I was scared of the most in there, just judging by his looks – and I had to admit to myself that I was judging prematurely, and I shouldn’t be judging people by their looks anyway, my mother had taught me better than that.
Or the time I met this girl in the Adelaide Hostel (still the best hostel I’ve ever been to, and I went back there last year to check up on it) and she took me on a tour of San Francisco that isn’t in the Lonely Planet books, and I remember I had the best time with her but for the life of me, a few days later, I couldn’t remember her name.
Especially that one time when I collected my rental car in the downtown office of one of the rental car companies, they parked it outside the main door for me, handed me the keys, and then I sat there in the car for 20 minutes not knowing how to start the stupid thing but too embarrassed to ask. It was my first time using an automatic and I had no clue how to use it, and it was before the time I had a smartphone and access to Google 24/7. In the end, one of the clerks in the office noticed me still sitting there and he came out to help me get the engines running….in the literal sense.
San Francisco was the first place I’ve visited on my trip, and it was in beautifully warm spring weather, and everyone was so welcoming and the people were so wonderfully weird. The buildings and landmarks are incredible (hence my obsession with the Golden Gate Bridge) and the fact that it is on three sides surrounded by water and the visual depth of field you get from all the hills makes it even prettier and more interesting than it already is.There’s enough to do and see for a lifetime. It made me a little bit more confident, and secure, and most of all it made me believe that I could achieve things (like going 9000 miles away from anything I know and still make it on my own).
It is needless to say, I fell in love at first sight and it has been my favourite place since, even though I’ve only been able to go back once, in 2016. I’ve never had such an instant, constant, loving relationship with a man. This city is giving me #Goals for any future relationship with a guy. This is how much I love the place.