It was great to wake up in California and see the giant trees around me. I was excited to hit the road and drive along the coast on 101 for the first time on my trip. But my excitement very fast changed to disappointment because when I reached the ocean I didn’t see anything. Literally I couldn’t see anything – a heavy fog covered everything around me. In addition to that I needed to stop and put additional jacket because I was freezing. But there was nothing to do with that, just keep riding, I had a long day a front of me – 600 km separated me from San Francisco.
It was one of the most exhausting rides of my trip and not because of the distance, I already learned to deal with it after more than a month on the road. The biggest difficulty was a constant change of the temperature – when I was close to the ocean it was freezing cold, but when the road moved away it became very hot, so I needed to stop many times to change jackets. Finally when I’ve got closer to the city strong gusts almost blew me away from the road. The worst actually was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge – strong wind, slow traffic and in addition to that $5 fee.
Everything became much better when I finally arrived to my host house. I parked on the street. Luckily San Francisco has many parking lots for especially for motorcycles. I knocked on Jeremy’s door, while waiting I noticed that his name was written in 3 languages – English, Hebrew and Arabic, only Jews do that and most likely liberal ones, so it was already a good sign. A few second later the door was opened by a guy with a big warm smile, he invited me inside, suggested to put the luggage that I don’t need in the garage and then showed me the house. He has a beautiful house with a very nice garden in the back yard, but beside of the plants I was very surprised to see that he has a chicken coop and a guesthouse. I stayed before that in a room for guests, but never in a house for guest. After that we started the dinner that included fresh salad and leftovers from the last night, but I have to say that it was delicious and I understood that I arrived to a house of someone who likes to cook and very good in that.
Jeremy’s house is perfect for hosting people and as I understood he is doing it all the time. Even before he joined couchsurfing he was very active in “Servas” that is oldest hospitality exchange organization, that is still using mail and requires interview to join them. I stayed in Jeremy’s house for 4 days but after 2 days I moved to the living room because he had earlier requests from 3 French guys and 2 Germans that came on the next day (all of them ended up being very interesting people). So actually I was the first person to sleep on the couch, because he never had some many people at the same time.
These four days were spent in the best possible way despite the really bad weather of San Francisco. Jeremy took us to the Golden Gate Bridge on the first day and it was so cold that I needed to take a jacket with me. That very surprised me because it was colder than during my last visit in the city, it was in February. After that we did a long walking tour through the Market St. and had a chance to see the different San Francisco – poor and broke, also very dirty. He promised that we’ll come back here again for completely different experience on Sunday and we took the BART and went to see typical San Francisco – first Valencia and Mission streets, after that Castro. I visited all these places during my last visit in the city, but this time I visited new stores and interesting places like pirate supply store. We finished the day with delicious dinner at the Iraqi restaurant.
Sunday, August 5th is my birthday, but I didn’t need to plan anything, everything was already planned. And it had nothing to do with me, that’s just how Jeremy liked to spend his time with his guests. In the morning there were 4 of us already, 2 more were suppose to join us later. We started with the quick visit to the farmers market and bought some ingredients for the dinner. After that we went to the place that I didn’t expect – we went to the church. But it wasn’t a regular church, it was Glide. The church that famous because of its contribution to the local community and continuous helps to the poor. The place even got to the movie “Pursuit of Happiness” with Will Smith.
It was very interesting – the church doesn’t have a single cross (be open to every religion and to celebrate life rather than death), the band actually played very good, the legendary pastor Cecil Williams in his 80ies still very charismatic, most of the visitors were tourist. But after a while I started to get tired and hungry, luckily it didn’t last long and we went to get lunch in amazing Pakistani restaurant near by.
The rest of the afternoon we spent walking around the Chinatown and Italian village. Jeremy surprised again by showing few more hidden spots with great views, luckily the weather go better and we actually could see something and few times I even took my jacket off few times.
At the evening we made the dinner and almost everything was made from scratch, including pasta, bread, mozzarella cheese and amazing cake. Our host didn’t stop surprising by his culinary skills. I made my effort to raise everyone’s alcohol level by making different cocktails and before the dinner everybody was little bit tipsy, but I also realized how rusted my bartender skills.
The conclusion after the first few days in San Francisco – even if the weather is terrible, good company and good food will make everything better, so it wasn’t difficult to have fun being a guest of very social foodie in the city with the worst weather on my trip.