22 June 2012

San Francisco with Vincent from Belgium

My last post left off detailing that I had met a guy named Vincent on a travelers and backpackers website and that he had wanted to meet up in San Francisco, then after not hearing from him for a while he randomly checked into the same hostel as me and asked the manager if I was there... ok then. I really wasn't looking forward to meeting him at the time, it wasn't that I had something against him (I didn't), it was simply that I was just really happy at the time to just do my own thing for a while. I contemplated hiding but he was bound to find me eventually. About 5 minutes after I wrote my last post, he found me in the kitchen.

And wow am I glad that he did =D

The proceeding week was one of the most fun I have ever had on my entire trip.

Firstly, a little about Vincent. He is from Belgium, speaks Dutch, English, a little Spanish as well as French (wow), and has been traveling solo for nearly 1 and a half years! That's awesome. He has spent 3 months in India, 8 months in Napal, 3 months in Thailand, a few more places that I can't remember, and has even been to the base camp of Mt Everest! He is now in America despite never originally even planning to be and only came because he met his girlfriend months ago when in Napal and followed her here (very cool), and is now just traveling around and is playing it by ear. Although he greatly disliked how expensive America is and was definitely starting to think it was time to head back home, so I guess we would see how we go right?

The very next day after meeting him I had to change hostels again, so Vincent decided to tag along and change hostels also. I still didn't really know him yet but he seemed cool enough, so I didn't mind him coming also, so we both agreed to meet up again later in the day once we had both checked in and got ourselves organized. This turned out pretty funny because by that same afternoon when we organized to meet up again he had already become friends with a whole group of people ha! There was Peter (Australia), Miranda (Russia) and Gersende (France)... and Brian (America) who was completely insane and weird and we mostly tried to avoid when we got the chance.

So without realizing it I was now part of a whole group of friends, cool. They were all really great and we had an awesome couple of days together exploring the city, cooking meals, having drinks and just chatting away. Miranda was such a cool and interesting girl, she is a lawyer in Russia and had the most intriguing and informative stories to tell of what her country is like and how it differs from the rest of the world.

Oh yeah, I am loving this city more and more everyday.

Me, Peter, Gersende, Miranda, Brian and Vincent in the front. San Francisco is damn cold too!
Alas, the curse of travel continues with Peter, Miranda and Gesende all heading off on their separate ways soon after (Brian just kind of disappeared, which was fine). Thankfully though Vincent was to be sticking around a little while longer despite every single day telling me that "tonight I am booking my flight to Denver for sure!". So with it being just the two of us once more we spent a day or two walking around the city and chilling out at Golden Gate Park on the nice weather days.

Now, when you are with Vincent you are never alone for long for somehow he manages to meet new people, organize a day trip together, and become great friends with them with whom you feel like you've known for years, all before I've even woken up and had breakfast in the morning!

On our way back from the Golden Gate Park to our hostel one day while walking down the street we see this nice girl who appeared lost. Vincent says hello, works his conversational magic and before long the three of us are friends and had organized for that night to meet up to go see the Golden Gate 75th birthday celebrations, sweet! The girl was Chloe (France) and she bought her friend Cameel (France) along too.

For the 75th birthday of the Golden Gate Bridge the city had planned to celebrate with a huge fireworks, sound and light show on the actual bridge itself. I felt pretty damn lucky to just happen to be here the very week this was to be on so I was already really excited for the night, and now with Vincent, Chloe and Cameel with me it really added to the occasion =D

Fireworks launched off the Golden Gate Bridge

My usually superb camera sucks during the night, so what you can't see is the Golden Gate Bridge itself lit up with lights and fireworks. In addition was a whole theatrical performance of music being blasted around the entire bay area, dozens of helicopters and boats zooming around the harbour and I would guess easily over 20,000 people around our immediate area to create a really electric atmosphere!

Me, Chloe and Vincent after the show had finished
Cameel joined us for this next photo, a great way to mark the night
Afterwards Cameel suggested we go out for beers (read my mind!) so we met up with a few others who are also staying at the same hostel as us and went out to a pub. A very killer night indeed!

They were both really cool, but Cameel I'd have to say was easily one of the coolest people I have met on my entire trip so far, she was extremely down to earth, casual and fun to be around. It was a shame that she was to be leaving the following day, but I guess that's travel.

Found this on the way to the pub which I thought looked cool at night
Again there was talk from Vincent of "Ok, when I get back to the hostel tonight I am booking my flight to Denver".

Yeah... I don't believe it until I see it mate ha!

Of course Vincent stuck around for a few more days (how can you leave really?), and I am glad he did else I wouldn't have received a phone call from him a few days later telling me to come hang out with him and his newly acquired friends, Johanna (France) and Luisa (Germany)! Count me in! That night was a really great time of just the 4 of us hanging out by the wharf, sitting down for some nice dinner, and exploring the city at night. San Francisco is just such a great place, and when you have awesome people to share and explore it with it makes it all that more memorable.

We had heard about this really tall tower where you can go to the very top of to see the entire city, so we set out to find it! Our quest came to a stand still however when the girls came across these puppies sitting outside a restaurant with its owner... 15 minutes we were here for! Haha! I am 100% convinced that Vincent and I could have walked away then and there and they wouldn't have been none the wiser.

"Ohhh Emmm Geee look at the puppies!!!"
Luisa was the happiest I had seen her all night I reckon haha!
Johanna contemplating if there is enough space left in her suitcase
It was a great unexpected night, but like all great things they always come to an end.

Luisa, Vincent, Johanna and me
Johanna actually was really incredible, she had such a fiery and free spirit that I really admired and I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent walking through the streets at night trying to find that illusive 'tall tower' that we had been told about, just chatting away the entire time without pause about all the silly things we want to do in life someday. And I remember standing next to her and listening to what she wants to do in life and thinking that it made even my crazy ideas look boring in comparison. It was really inspirational to meet someone with a similar outlook and direction in life, I really hope to see her again someday.

Vincent had now been here for over a week, but eventually he finally did book his flight to Denver and left a day or two later. It was such a killer week, easily one of the best I have had on my entire trip. With Vincent I managed to meet so many people I know I wouldn't have if I wasn't with him, and even on the days when it was just me and him simply playing card games, exploring the city or having a beer, were some really great times. And wow it must have been pretty epic actually because it has now been about 10 days since my parents left and it honestly only feels no more than 4! Time really has flown by in a haze of cool people, unique sights, interesting and fun conversations, and amazing adventures.

It was a hell of a week Vincent, you'll be missed friend. See ya in India perhaps!

Vincent and me. One of the best mates I've made on this whole trip.

And now a new week begins, who knows what it has in store! Although I worry I won't be able to top the last one anytime soon.


Matthew Tanaka said...

Sounds like an incredible time! It's funny how chance happenings can dramatically change an event. Seems like for the better in this case.

Azz said...

Very much so man, having a blast =)

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