memories

The Why of Buenos Aires

BA was so incredible to me for 2 reasons: first, the city itself; second, the people I met there.

The city is beautiful. It’s Paris and New York City combined, with classic mid-rise buildings on tree-lined streets, shops and cafes along the ground level, and sculptures, fountains and parks around every corner. Graffiti is also around every corner, but in an artful not harmful way. Every neighborhood has its own feel and just walking the streets is an activity worthy of your time. People are active everywhere, from rollerblading in the park to running along Puerto Madero. And the food – incredible. Not just the delicious steaks but I had great salads, crepes, pulled pork and cheesesteak sandwiches, tacos (actually spicy ones!), and desserts. Then there’s the nightlife. Everything you’ve heard about BA nightlife is true and it still doesn’t prepare you for it. Live performances, DJ dance clubs, or chill local bars, it has something for everyone every night of the week.

BA has an energy and it is addictive. It’s not surprising that so many people visit and don’t leave. It has everything you could want in a city, but it’s more than what it can offer that makes it so special, it’s just the atmosphere. The kind of thing you have to experience to get. So go, experience it, and you’ll see what I mean.

The people I met in BA. Where to start? After being on the road for 3 months I was missing some normalcy in my interactions – having conversations that went beyond where you’re from and where you’re going, being able to message a friend to see what they’re up to today and create a spur of the moment plan, and just generally having people around who you’re comfortable with, who you can actually do nothing but sit on a couch with and still have a good time. I found these people in BA.

This group of solo travelers had all met at different points in their journies and I was lucky enough to be welcomed into their family. Travel times ranged from a few weeks to over a year, so somehow the timing just worked out that everyone was in BA staying at America del Sur. I haven’t ever so quickly felt so at home with a group of people before. We spent hours lounging together in the basement, cooked dinners together, had some crazy fun nights out, hung out in parks, explored the city, and experienced BA with each other.

My first night in BA I had one of the hardest moments of my trip so far: I was missing a close friend’s wedding. My friends and I came up with a plan to FaceTime the night of the rehearsal dinner so I could say hi to all of them together. I was at Alex’s apartment and these people I had just met made sure I had the wifi password, enough time before we went out, and a quiet place to talk. They saw it was important to me and helped me make it work. And then they helped cheer me up since of course I was sad I was missing this big event. I couldn’t have been in a better place for that weekend. That set the stage for the next 2 weeks of good times. When I left for Uruguay I was sad to go, but when I got back it was like I’d never left. I was greeted with big hugs and my plans for the weekend. That was the first night I had to go back to my hostel in Palermo instead of staying at America del Sur. When it was time to leave I said I had to go home. Tom responded, “You are home.” That’s how I felt. For 10 days, I had a home in this year of homelessness.

Goodbyes can be hard, and leaving BA was my hardest goodbye so far. Could it possibly have been even harder than leaving the US? 10 days in this amazing city felt as important to me as a year. When I left, I felt satisfied as a tourist, like I had seen and done all I wanted to, but sad just in life. Couldn’t that perfect combination of city and people last forever? My only comfort was that everyone had either left or was planning on leaving 3 days later. It was over for all of us. But these people will forever mean a lot to me. Thank you for being such a big part of making BA as special as it was.

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One Day I Will Have a Lake House

Life on the Amazon is lived on boats. We took a boat to get everywhere, to fish, and even just to jump off of in the middle of the river for a refreshing swim. Everyone who took us out was so skilled at navigating through the water using motors and paddles. I had forgotten how much I like being on boats like this. Not big cruise ship boats or high powered speedboats, but small motorboats.

My grandfather in Austria lived on a lake, the Woerthersee. When we used to visit every summer, we would spend a lot of our time reading on the dock or cooling off in the clear water (so much clearer than the Amazon, where I couldn’t even see my own feet let alone anything else that was in there with me).

He had a rowboat and a small motorboat. Taking the motorboat out around the lake was always something I enjoyed. We didn’t usually dock anywhere and I never did fish there, but just being out on the water was all I needed. I didn’t even realize I missed this until I spent 6 days using boats as my main form of transportation. Maybe this is why I always liked Venice so much.

So one day, when I finally decided to calm down on traveling for a bit (which is looking further and further away the longer I do this), I hope to have a house on a lake with a dock to jump off of and a small motorboat to wander around in.

Bucket List Results

I know you’ve all been dying to know how I did on my San Francisco bucket list, or #brodgesbucketlist as it’s now known. Below is the entire list – maroon text is completed, black text I didn’t get to do. What do you think?

The Bucket List

The Bucket List

I think I did well! 34 out of 40. There are a few missing, unfortunately, but for all the ones missing and more I did plenty of #unofficialversion bucket list items. Plus there are a few that I did part of – my last weekend I did make it to Bootie and then Aces, we just happened to nap during what was supposed to be the EndUp time so I didn’t count it. And then there are a few that I admit are a bit of a stretch – I did go climbing at Dogpatch Boulders when I stopped by my friends’ climbing competition, and we did have a growler from Magnolia at their apartment after, so technically that counts right?

In the end I am just so happy that I was able to do as much as I did, and I’m even happier that so many people joined me for the fun!

I’ve posted some highlights already, but really everything I did could have had its own post. I had the best time exploring all the city has to offer. My last months in SF could have been filled with sadness about my upcoming departure, but instead they were a celebration of the wonderfulness of the city and all my friends.

There are still plenty of activities to do and places to visit in San Francisco, so when I return one day I hope more of you will join me again for my #brodgeisback list.

 

3 Year One Way Anniversary

NY to SF 3 Years Ago

NY to SF 3 Years Ago

Today is my 3 year anniversary of moving to San Francisco. Which means it’s also the anniversary of the first one way ticket I ever bought.

Traveling one way felt so final. Until that point I’d had round trip journeys – college was limited to 4 years from the start, my flight to study abroad in Germany was 5 months before my return but still round trip, and while living in New York City was a move I always knew I wouldn’t be there forever. The move to San Francisco was the first big decision I made that felt so profoundly life-changing.

Now, on my 3 year anniversary of this first one way adventure, I find myself in a place where I have purchased 7 one way tickets in the past month. SEVEN.

I’m going to take a second and let that sink in. Because that is sort of insane…

 

I remember moving to San Francisco like it was only 3 days ago. While I could write a whole separate blog full of anecdotes about my love for this place and all the people I know here, what stands out for this blog is what that move meant to me in relation to this trip.

After graduating college I landed in NYC more by convenience than desire. Graduating with no job and in the middle of a recession, I applied to internships in the closest metropolis I could, which, being from New Jersey, is NYC. After my internship turned into a full time job I moved into the city. I’m happy I did, I always liked the city and had thought about living there so I wanted to try it out, but it was never meant to be final. I had a plan – NYC for 3 years, travel for a year, then move to SF.

See, San Francisco was my end goal. I had visited family in SF many times growing up and fell in love with it. I knew one day I would be here, and everyone who knew me knew that was my goal. So when I was offered a job for an amazing architecture firm in my dream city, I couldn’t turn it down, it was too good to be true. It was also too early. It meant I had to adjust my plan and move to my dream city before doing my trip.

I viewed this is as a delay, not a cancellation, of the trip. And when I moved out here, instead of thinking I ended up at my destination too soon, I saw it as a sign that I could follow through on my convictions. I had talked about moving to San Francisco for so long and I finally did it. I left behind my comfortable East Coast life (grew up in NJ, college in upstate NY, apartment in NYC) and most of my close friends and immediate family and set off to live a dream.

It has been the best decision I ever made for so many reasons, not the least of which was proving to myself that one day I would have the courage to make the same decision to take off on my trip.

Now that I’ve made this next decision, I am as excited and nervous as I was then, which actually gives me some comfort. If I was right with that risk, I’m sure I’ll be right with this one. So while it’s a little odd to celebrate an anniversary of somewhere I’m about to move out of, it is also a celebration of the confirmation of how right that one way flight can be.

And besides that, my 3 years here are completely worth celebrating. They’ve been some of the best years of my life and I love this city. One day I hope to return and stay for good. Assuming, that is, that after this trip I’ll ever be able to stay in one place for good.

Going to See the Elephant at Anchor Brewing Company

IMG_3669One of the activities on my bucket list was to go on a tour of the Anchor Brewery. I’ve grown to love the Anchor beers (personal favorites: California Lager and Zymaster) and just love brewery tours in general, so this was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Unfortunately the only time to do these tours is a weekday and you have to book a while in advance. A little hard when I’m still working.

Then the Bold Italic emailed about a competition to win two tickets to Anchor’s SF Beer Week kick-off party to release their new IPA. I entered, as I do with fun sounding local events, not expecting to hear anything. Then one day I got an email with the subject: YOU WON! This is how my brewery tour bucket list activity changed to a brewery party instead.

All we knew was that they were going to release their IPA and the theme was to See the Elephant. This vague invitation was enough to convince me and friend to go, and it ended up being an awesome event that is definitely a bucket list highlight.

To “See the Elephant” is a 19th-century metaphor for the hopeful but risky pursuit of happiness, adventure, and fortune. From the Anchor Brewing Website:

The expression to “see the elephant” originates from a tale that predates the California Gold Rush.

There once lived a farmer who had heard of elephants but had never seen one. He longed for the day when he might catch a glimpse of this rare, exotic creature. When the circus came to town, he loaded his wagon with fresh produce and headed to the market. On the way, just as he’d hoped, he came across the circus parade, nobly led by an enormous elephant. The farmer was ecstatic, but his horses were terrified. They reared and bucked, overturning his wagon and scattering its precious contents in the road. “I don’t give a hoot,” exclaimed the farmer. “I have seen the elephant!”

The elephant became the universal symbol of the Gold Rush, as evidenced by the journals, letters, and sketchbooks of the forty-niners.

So to recap: I was now at a party at Anchor Brewing Company that was focused on pursuing your hopes and dreams. I couldn’t have imagined a better theme. It was a convergence of this major life decision I’d made to take a break from my every day life and pursue my travel dreams with a bucket list activity of beer tasting.

IMG_3671This party was designed to be an adventure through the brewery. Each of us was given a map and a passport; stamp every destination in your passport and you got a goodie bag when you left. At each passport stamp location you could learn something – about IPA’s, elephants, or other participants’ ambitions. During this entire event, the tap room was open with unlimited pours of whatever they had on tap, with a few stations scattered throughout the floor serving the IPA and California Lager, as well as some food stands. Not only were we inside the brewery for a release party of a new beer, but we got to wander around at our leisure, participate in activities, learn about beer, and taste their beers! You can understand our excitement.

Second only to Brews on the Bay (a personal favorite San Francisco event), this was an amazingly fun and well-executed brewery party. The staff was engaging, we learned a lot, and who doesn’t love beer tasting. By the end we had stamped all our passport locations and took home some fun Anchor Brewing Company swag.

At one of the passport stamp locations, there was a board where we had to write down what our version of Seeing the Elephant was. “To See the Elephant is to…” This was a no brainer for me. Without hesitation, I picked up my chalk and wrote down “finally go on my Round the World adventure.” To me, this trip is my pursuit of happiness, adventure and fortune.

Thanks Anchor Brewing Company (and Bold Italic) for an awesome night, fantastic beer, and another reminder about pursuing what really matters.

A few more pictures from the night.

IMG_3675

Signs directing us from England to San Francisco and India

The board where we wrote down what Seeing the Elephant is to us (and my friend pointing out what to do)

IMG_3678

We made it to India

Making progress on the SF Bucket List

I figure it’s about time I post an update about my progress on my San Francisco Bucket List.

I think I’ve done pretty well so far! Thanks to some awesome companions I have been regularly checking off bucket list items since I first sent it out to friends less than 2 months ago. I’ve seen a variety of shows at a variety of venues, eaten wings from Hayes Valley to the Richmond, played at the Exploratorium and the Seward Street Slides, and tasted my fair share of cocktails everywhere from new bars in the TL to Anchor Steam’s IPA Release Party (thank you Bold Italic for that one!).

Each of these activities could take a whole post, but thanks to social media and my tagging them with #brodgesbucketlist it’s pretty easy to find them all through my personal instagram (the one connected with my blog won’t start until the trip starts). So instead I will post highlights here of some exceptionally awesome places to play in SF.

I’ll start with where my bucket list started. The first adventure.

The first bucket list adventure I went on happened to also be a friend’s last week in SF. She was up for anything before she took off, so we borrowed a car and went down to the Castro. Unsure what we were about to get into, we grabbed our cardboard and gloves and approached the Seward Street Slides.

(Why gloves you ask? If you’ve ever slid down a concrete slide before you will know how destroyed your hands can get holding onto your cardboard around turns, bumping into harsh concrete. I had the unfortunate experience of ripping up my hands on a different concrete slide during softball season last year. I was prepared this time.)

The Seward Street Slides were constructed over 30 years ago in the hills above the Castro. After the neighborhood successfully saved the park from development, they held a “Design the Park” competition. 14-year-old Kim Clark won with a design for curving concrete slides, based on a slide that used to be at Playland Amusement Park at Ocean Beach. (more at Curbed SF). This is what you see today.

Intrigued, we climbed the stairs, skeptically eyeing the slides next to us. Since there are two slides next to each other, we decided to go together. We bravely inched our way along the slide on our pieces of cardboard. We did not know what we were getting into.

These slides are FAST. They start innocently enough, then all hell breaks loose as they shoot you down a steep incline and around a sharp curve before spitting you out a longer than it should be drop to the ground. There is no way to land gracefully. We laughed a lot at how ridiculous the ride was and our astonishment that these are there for kids to play on. While my friend refused to go again, I was determined to document this crazy, random, slightly dangerous San Francisco oddity.

So I went again while she recorded it. At the risk of complete embarrassment, here is the video of my second ride. Just know that this was not the worst landing we saw that day.