GDC 2009: San Francisco – Day 1

Even though it was my first time in the States, I couldn’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed at first. The arrival on American soil felt no more than a simple exchange of similar-looking airports. Only upon our departure from the San Francisco Airport did I began noticing the subtle differences: increased presence of security cameras, federal law warning signs, and audio security notifications. The BART transit system from the airport was convenient enough to get us downtown, from where we got ourselves Muni transit weekly passes (I believe Muni might be a cute way of saying “municipal” transit). I couldn’t help but compare San Franciso’s downtown to Toronto’s – the many subtle aesthetic differences raced through my mind. One of the first things that grabbed my attention away from the many tall buildings was a group of four police officers near the BART subway transit station, looking about. Though it might have been an odd instance for that day, rather than a usual occurrence, I felt a strange mix of safety and alertness.

Our travel bags gave us away as tourists in the dense crowd, which innevitably attracted what we later learned was a famous homeless guy of San Francisco. With great enthusiasm, he demanded our attention to show off his knowledge of the downtown area, pointing out some supposedly delicious places to eat. Taken aback by his extreme hospitality, we motioned our urgency to get going, which in retrospect we could have handled differently. The man made sure to point out our lack of tact with a few carefully chosen swear words to send us on our way. We stayed near the police officers during this time, before figuring out where to go next. As if to feel more like we were in Toronto, we chose to have lunch at an Asian restaurant. The food was quite good, though also quite expensive (later we realized how much this was true of groceries as well).

After getting acquainted with our hotel, we decided to explore the piers of Fisherman’s Wharf, known for its various seaside attractions, such as the tour of Alcatraz island, the Aquarium, and the Boudin bread bakery, to name a few. We heard there was a possibility of rain the next day, so we wanted to see as much as we could before GDC. So, we walked in the direction of the Golden Gate Bridge, keeping the option to cross it if we felt like it.

What was once a small speck in the distance became a giant walkable treat.

 Golden Gate Bridge from far away

In the end, the scale of our walk became epic.

The Epic Walk

Note that the image above does not show the path we actually took. With the exception of crossing the bridge, we walked off the road, close to the sea.

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