As soon as I started planning my trip visiting Nobody and Nolina in Berkeley was on top of my list. I met them in 2016 – I think the first time in Big Bear Lake when I could hardly walk. They invited me to their place and I could be a tourist and have a look around San Francisco for a few days at the end of my trip.
This time my only goal in regards to San Francisco was seeing the Golden Gate Bridge. Last time I went there it was mostly hidden by a dense layer of fog. Other than that I just wanted to meet my friends again and see how they were doing. Nolina had lately broken her ankle and was buzzing around on a knee scooter. We often sat together talking about job opportunities and compared the social systems of our countries. It sounds like the problems are the same no matter where on this planet you go. Although I think I like the American system of healthcare more than the German. Not speaking about health insurance but the general set up and especially the treatment of employees.
Besides good conversations I got to stay in a comfortable bed and enjoyed very delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Nobody was worrying about me not getting fat enough! Well, I gained a lot of belly fat during the last couple of weeks being off trail.
On one day I took the BART train to San Francisco on my mission to see the bridge. I went to the Presidio – a place I haven’t visited in depth before. It is basically a big military area from old days developed out of a fort first established by the Spanish a long time ago. Today it is a museum and a big park with hiking trails. After strolling around and grabbing an overview map in the visitor center I made my way along the parade street towards the officer’s casino – today’s museum.
Nolina had told me about the exhibition that was currently displayed: it was about the incarceration of Americans with Japanese ancestry during World War Two. The military basically didn’t trust people with Japanese ancestry and decided to forcefully move them into camps for the duration of war. It was shocking to see all the historical evidence and see the impressive number of more than 100000 names written on a window wall. It made me very sad especially as my friend had told me that her family was affected.
But there was some small hope too. Within the exhibition were boards with the title “your voice matters” providing the opportunity for visitors to write their opinion. I hope humanity is clever enough to learn and not do the same mistakes again!
After the exhibition I needed some fresh air and decided to take a one and a half hour circle through the park towards the Golden Gate Bridge. It only took me a few steps and I was on a quiet hiking trail kn a nice forest. Wasn’t I in a megacity? I hiked on and more along roads towards the bridge and all of a sudden, just around the corner I could see it! No fog was in the way and so I started to take some photos of different angles. I decided to walk on the bridge for a while but turned around after some mandatory photos as the sidewalk was crowded with people.
I headed for the Bay Trail which would take me two miles along the ocean, beaches and the harbor before I would hit the famous Fisherman’s Wharf. Walking along the ocean I realized that I really liked San Francisco and that – even if it was such a big city – I could imagine living here. But I was sure that I could never afford that! Let’s say nearby…
Hiking on the Bay Trail I sped up towards the end: I was heading for food! Last time I had followed the recommendation of my friend Nobody and visited the Eagle Cafe. This time I wanted to do the same. Just a short stop at the sea lion colony and I was standing in front of the Cafe: it was closed for renovations. Frustrated I just picked another one of the touristy sea front restaurants and ordered what I was aiming for: Fish’n’chips. It wasn’t too bad at all but of course not as good as the Eagle Cafe. Next time…
Another point of interest for me was the Berkeley Bowl. A local grocery store with lots of organic and local produce. I knew that it was the most wonderful grocery store that would come my way for a long time and so I spend a couple of hours strolling through the aisles and way too much money. But now I own super spicy ginger chunks and chocolate biscuits with cassava flour! 😎
The days went by way too fast and when it was time to say goodbye I was very sad. Nobody and Nolina took me to the train station and we gave each other a big hug. I could hardly watch their car driving away. When will I see you again?
Now we all have to face our challenges. Nobody and Nolina will go to Hiker Heaven to volunteer for a week and I am on my way to my biggest hiking adventure in Washington state. I boarded the Coastal Starlight train, this time going up north. Next stop: Vancouver, WA.