The Epic Adventures Come To An End.
02.12.2008 - 07.12.2008 14 °C
Having left the beauty of Colorado and the Rocky Mountains behind us we were truly on the last leg of our 'Epic Adventures' as we set down in San Francisco for a 2 night stopover before looping back to LA for 3 days, and then finally home.
As anybody else who has travelled will know, the last few days of a trip are when you discover just how far every dollar has to stretch, how much free stuff there is to do in a city, and just how boring eating pasta every night can get!
San Francisco is an iconic city for many reasons, the Golden Gate bridge, Alcatraz, the steep hills that evoke images of 70's cop shows! But it is the general liberal/artistic/relaxed atmosphere that you find walking around and in the cafes/bars of the city that is infectious. We walked and walked and walked the streets of San Fran for our 2 days here, and man it is exhausting going up and down those hills!
The hills of San Fran at night
Iconic Trams by Union Square Downtown San Fran
It is a beautiful city in many places and a city you feel you could live quite happily in. There is however an underside to it as well and we saw more homeless people here than we had in most of the other destinations we had been to so far on this trip which did surprise us. What also surprised us was our accommodation! We have stayed in jungle camps and beach huts in Asia swamped by mosquitos, in cheap hostels in downtown areas of large cities frequented by questionable clientele, but it was in a hotel in San Francisco 5 days from the end of our trip that we first experienced bed bugs! I was eaten alive. It was pretty horrible, we could practically see the sheets moving on closer inspection! Suffice to say we got the room changed and slept in our clothes the next 2 nights!
We left San Fran for LA from the central bus station on board the famed Greyhound bus service, where we met a few 'characters', and were dropped off on Hollywood Boulevard. Already fairly tired and bag-laden, we had to try get public transport across the city back to Venice Beach where we were going to stay in the same hostel as the previous week. This proved a bit of an adventure in itself! We have since heard that the bus service in LA isn't particularly renowned for its efficiency, but with the city so large we would have to change over to different routes.
An hour or so into the next bus trip we were officially lost. It was most likely our small Irish town naivety but the area we were in looked remarkably similar to some 'gansta' rap videos! We had no idea where we were, and as all backbackers know walking around aimlessly with a map in hand and backpacks hanging off you is when you feel at your most vulnerable....you're so obviously lost! We were in fact even further away from our destination, and had to stump up for a taxi. 50 dollars later and we were back in Venice beach in one piece.
It was a calm, uneventful and poverty stricken last few days in LA. We spent the time strolling to Santa Monica again, watching the crazy antics on the Venice Boulevard and reminiscing about the times we had had over the past few months and the changes our travels had had upon us.
Back on Venice Beach
Then without further ado it was home time, a flight back to Dublin on Lorraines birthday and the welcome sight of family and friends we hadn't seen for many months.
Looking back on it all now its hard not to be moved by the experience and how it has changed us. Travel is a strange thing really, you travel to different places and experience cultures and events that you never could have imagined before. Sure you see things on tv but they never seem 'real', not until you can touch the buildings, smell the atmosphere, hear the sounds, sense the changes and soak them in. Not until you can really feel it!
The experiences that can differ so much from what you are used to at home can seemlessly alter your views and philosophys. Suddenly things appear differently to you, your values and perspectives have changed. What you thought you wanted and the ways in which you thought you wanted to live your life are all questioned. They say that 'travel broadens the mind', and it really is true if you're willing to allow it to. If you're willing to embrace the new and the unknown, you will be the better person for it (well most of the time!).
It is an amazing experience to have the privilege to travel. Forging friendships with strangers from around the world based on that common bond that you too are willing to explore and learn and experience new things! Its a great community to be a part of, and to this day myself and Lorraine can still talk about the places we went and the people we met with a fondness that hasn't been blunted.
As of last week we were back from this trip for 4 years! Its taken that long to post this last entry. But the bug hasnt left us. There have been many other trips that are yet to be posted! The travel lust is well and truely engrained in us. We are travellers, it is a huge part of our life, and there will always be one more place we just have to go and see......