yours, tiramisu

takeaways from visiting sf in aug 2022

Though I've visited San Francisco a few times before, I've only ever stayed in hotels. I rented an Airbnb for the past ten days—longer than I ever have stayed in SF—and in doing so learned a lot more about the city.

SF's extensive recycling and composting program was the first thing that stood out to me. I never noticed it when I stayed at hotels, but couldn't avoid it when sharing a home via Airbnb. (Discovering small things like these about how locals live in a city is the main reason why I prefer Airbnbs to hotels.) Not only did the home where I stayed have a dedicated compost bin along with their landfill and recycling bins, but they also had a thorough guide about what goes in which bin. Where I currently live, we don't even have a composting program, and our recycling program is weak at best. I cannot even tell you which items are actually recyclable. I was shocked to see that in SF, the recycling bin is the biggest of the three bins and that the bin for composting is just as large as the one for landfill. It was eye-opening to see just how much of what I throw away is compostable—it significantly reduces the volume of waste I discard to landfills. I'm curious to see how much environmental impact this actually has, though. Where does all this compostable material go to get composted? And what is it used for?

Along these lines, SF's sense of community is heartwarmingly strong. In the Bernal Heights neighborhood where we stayed I discovered a slide called the Esmeralda Slide. From what I could gather from the flyers posted around, the local community pitches in to maintain the slide and the stairs near it, trimming vegetation and cleaning the area. My favorite part was all the used cardboard boxes that people had generously donated for visitors to use as seats on the metal slide. This pride in your community is a sight to behold and a joy to live in.

Finally, I loved experiencing SF's walkability firsthand. The public transit's combination of BART metro lines and MUNI buses got me everywhere I needed to go. I'm fairly confident I could have gotten anywhere within downtown San Francisco within an hour using my feet and public transit. I even got to visit one of the surrounding suburbs with only BART and walking. After spending a week in Los Angeles, SF's public transit was heaven on earth.

I've always balked at the high price tag of living in SF, but I'm starting to see that it comes with some great benefits.

#cities #english #travel