What didn’t I do while I was there? I’d like to think I made the most of my week in SF.
I got to OAK Airport and rented my very first car. I felt so cool. Then I drove out to Burlingame to where I would stay for the next few days at my parent’s friend’s house. They were so welcoming and so helpful giving me maps and showing me highway routes and giving me advice on where to go during my stay.
Overwhelming. Incredible. Inspiring. Nerve Racking. Challenging. Exciting. Engaging. Eye-Opening. Those are a few words I would use to describe my interview experience. It was unbelievable how many awesome people I met and getting to know them was so amazing. Every person came from a different state or country, and came from all walks of life. Each having insanely different and interesting experiences in their lives that all led them to the same position I was in: A chance to continue exploring and experiencing new things around the world as a trip leader. There was no doubt everyone wanted this job as much as the person sitting next to them and also no doubt everyone was so qualified for the job.
The interview consisted of a few segments. Starting with each person (about 40 candidates) getting up and introducing themselves and saying why they should be a part of this company in 2 minutes. Each person that went was better than the last. It was truly incredible to see so many people with such distinguished personalities come up in front of everyone and own it. The entire day I walked around with a smile on my face from ear to ear. I was just there to do my best and give it all I could give, and enjoy the experience. To make the long day short, then we split up into groups and played leadership/problem solving games, role played in field case-scenarios, changed tires in under 5 minutes, got language tested, bike repair tested, and then topped it off with another 2 minute speech where we had to take our “tour guests” through a rundown of what they day would entail. phewww! sounds like a lot right?
believe me, a few of us had to get a beer afterwards to let it all settle in.
so that was that. a full day of eyes and ears judging me to my core and then all that was left to do was wait for the results…
THE BIKE AND HIKE
Next morning I woke up and took my car to the Golden Gate Bridge where I rode back and forth on my bike. The day was gorgeous and I was trying to stay mentally positive and hopeful. After I rode, I drove to a near mountain and took a 2 mile hike where I ran into a deer on the trail, and saw incredible views of San Francisco.
I took pictures of every flower I crossed on the mountain. So beautiful!
THE NEW FRIENDS
The thing about traveling alone is you get in this mode where you are open minded to anything and everything you may stumble upon and you make the best out of every situation. At the interview, those people I spoke about, were not only incredibly interesting people, but also genuine and quite literally, in the exact same boat as I was. They all had to go through the same process to get here.
The awesome thing about interviewing for a “sociable job” is that everyone interviewing, one would assume, is more or less sociable. So we got to know each other and then I, of course, afraid of being bored the rest of the week traveling alone, asked everyone there if they were staying a few extra days. Lucky for me, some of them were!
So we went on adventures together. And got rejected together. And took shots because of it, together. And it was a really nice time.
Honestly though, if I would have been alone I probably would have been so much more dramatic and depressed about not getting the position. I am totally happy to admit that if it wasn’t for my new friends, I would have had a miserable time in San Francisco because I would have beaten myself up for no reason. It was really comforting to have someone by my side and support me and understand me first-hand.
So we did all the tourist-y stuff like went to Washington Square Park and I learned how to do a head stand. I think if anything else, that was my purpose for going to California. To learn how to do a head stand. You think I’m joking…but I am so serious. My goal was to learn how to do a headstand by this summer. And guess what, I can now! Boom!
Yep, I’ll check that shit off my list right quick!
And we did thinks like:
went to Fisherman’s Wharf,
and drove through Lombard St. (curviest road in the world..what?!?!) — Mind Blowing.
We went to Twin Peaks in the rain.
ugh, yes I forgot to mention, the weather was grossssss!
And we drove through Haight Ashbury and through other towns, and went to well-known way over priced restaurants..(regretted that part afterwards),
we rode bikes through Golden Gate Park,
we went out and experienced the SF Night Life… I must say its hard to go out anywhere else after living in New York.. I’m not trying to sound all bad ass and pretend like nothing is better than NYC Night Life, but I mean, nothing is better than NYC Night Life…. unless probably you like casinos, then Las Vegas would suite your needs. None the less, it was a good time. I spent one night in a hostel in the middle of the city, I crashed at one of New Friends friend’s apartment another night because, well, why not.
Overall, I had an awesome time exploring with the New Friends and it was fun to experience a new place with someone else besides my camera.. if Thanksgiving was in April, I’d say, I am thankful for meeting you, New Friends.
THE WINE COUNTRY
And then I was on my own, once again. I set for Oakland where I’d be staying with another family friend, and next morning, I was off to Napa Valley. It was rainy and overcast almost the entire day, but I had a list of places to go and I made sure I hit every single one of them..especially the food stops…
I went through Napa Valley, Yountville, St. Helena, and Sonoma. I stopped at several places along the way.
The first winery where I had the “Extra Dry Riche” – incredible might I add, was at The Domain Chandon Winery.
That is where I broke the ice from feeling awkward traveling by myself. After that, I basically said, <i>Fuck it, I’m going to have an AWESOME day by myself!</i>
Stag’s Leap Winery is where I had the thorough wine tasting which was supposed to consist of only 4 sample glasses but ended up being 6. Needless to say I had to wait a while before I could continue my journey through wine country in the rain.
In Yountville, by the way, cutest, yet creepiest town ever. Creepy only because it seemed like it was almost too perfect, like nothing ever went wrong there. There wasn’t one piece of litter on the ground, the grass was trimmed to the T, and it basically looked like a town out of Sim City. Not to mention Bouchon Bakery had the most incredible macaroons I have ever tasted in my life.
I also had a delicious espresso chocolate shake at Gott’s Roadside..It kind of had that Sonic vibe to it, but more Mom n’ Pop – ish. There, some really sweet old ladies sparked a conversation with me and thought it so unnatural for me to be, and I quote “you’re all by yourself!?” Then when I told them my reason for making the trip they started giving me all sort of advice like looking into being a travel agent or something of the sort. Which, hey who knows, maybe I’ll look into it. ha!
Ok and then the last food thing I did was in Sonoma where I was told the trip wouldn’t be complete without Truffle Fries from El Dorado Kitchen. So naturally, I had to go. :S
And then of course I “hitch-hike” recruited a photographer to take my picture on the CornerStone Giant chair. I mean, hey you gotta get creative when you’re traveling alone. Strangers become your best friends.
So that was a fun filled day with lots of driving and exploring and singing to myself in the car.
The next day I took a “selfie day” and explored San Francisco like a tourist would. I went to Union Square,
rode the Cable Car,
walked through Lombard St.,
walked up, down, and sideways on the hilliest hills i’ve seen. Driving and parking on these roads was so scary!
went to Fisherman’s Wharf again, starred at lazy sea lions,
took a stroll through the boardwalk, and thennnnnn my brother’s friend called me and said, I got you an interview! Turn around and come back now! I was like, what?! Ok!
So luckily, my amazing friend from Florida had given me Uber credit, so I hopped on an Uber real quick and made it back on time, got ready and went to this random interview — turns out it was for another traveling company, spin off of the one I had originally applied for. The interview went great and it was a super cool experience..but they wanted me to start the next day and I was in no position to straight up move to Oakland, CA that quickly.
So that is the end of my 10 page essay…I think.
The trip was definitely unforgettable. I went there with no set agenda and expecting nothing in particular. I think that is really important to do..to have an open mind and get lost and figure it out from there. The experiences you will encounter will be unexpected, but that’s what makes traveling, that’s what makes LIFE all the more exciting!
Next time I’m in CA, it’ll be LA!