San Francisco By Train and Couch

Couch + computer + phone = the microcosm of life.

I might not be traveling as much as I was while in Europe, but my life is certainly more nomadic now.

I’ve “moved” to San Francisco, but all I brought with me was a suitcase. When I came out here I had just the bare bones of a plan: 1) Find a couch. Sleep on it. 2) Find a job. Do it.


But time flies, and here I am in week eight of couchsurfing my way around the San Francisco Bay area. First finding: it’s actually much more spread out than I realized.

I started out in the Mission, which is in the southern part of the city. (Some terminology: “The city” = San Francisco, “the peninsula” = South Bay, and as far as I can tell, “East Bay” = Oakland, Berkeley and beyond.) San Francisco feels like a small city, but it drives me nuts because everything is so spread out and all the BART lines make the same stops. Does that even make sense? It’s as though in New York, the 123, 456, NRW, BDF and ACE lines all coursed up and down Broadway and that’s it.

And don’t even talk to me about the MUNI. The MUNI fails me. Every. Time. How many times have I been late to interviews and meetings because of the MUNI? Let’s call it like it is and rename it the NEMESIS. Cuz really. *Shakes fist*

After five days in the Mission, I went down to Palo Alto on the Caltrain to housesit for a few weeks. The Caltrain isn’t so bad. Except for the fact that it doesn’t connect to the BART anywhere in the city. You have to transfer at Millbrae, near the airport. To make a New York City comparison again: this is as if the NJ Transit/Metro-North didn’t have hubs at Penn Station and Grand Central, and instead you had to make connections at Jamaica Station in Queens. To complete the analogy, this is stupid.

Seriously. When I meet people from L.A. who rave about the public transportation in the Bay area, I just want to catapult them out of California and over to New York City.

The last Caltrain stop is in SOMA, which is in the northeastern part of the city. Lucky for me, I was staying with friends just a few blocks from the Caltrain when I came back into the city. But to add another caveat here, walking three blocks in San Francisco can take 10, 15 minutes.

After SOMA, I spent a week in Berkeley, which is another hour northeastward across the bay, and so much consistently sunnier than San Francisco. Then another week back in SOMA. Today, back to the East Bay to stay in Oakland for a week.

On the bright side:

  • My friends have comfy couches.
  • I don’t have to pay rent just yet, a huge boon since housing in SF is pricier than I expected.
  • I can explore different areas around the Bay before deciding where I want to live.
  • The food is good everywhere you go!
Cheeseboard Collective in Berkeley’s “gourmet ghetto”. Nom nom nom.

5 thoughts on “San Francisco By Train and Couch

  1. Oh American public transportation… Honestly I don’t think any city in the US outside of NYC has good public transportation. Which frightens me because I hate driving. With a passion.

    1. I know. Being out here actually makes me want a car. It’s too hard to get around without it, and I’m not confident enough to cycle on city streets with any regularity…

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