Tips to Avoid the Tourist Track
I love San Francisco, but I often meet people who hate it – and I can totally understand why. This city is definitely not for everyone. I don’t want to be biased and talk about how awesome San Francisco is all the time, without mentioning the fact that it has all these problems too. So here you go: six reasons why you might hate San Francisco.
1. It’s crowded.
This city is only 7 miles wide and 7 miles long, but over 800,000 people are crammed into it. This makes for intense traffic jams, lots of noise, and having to push through crowds of people all the time to get where you need to go.
2. It’s expensive.
The average rent for a (small, dingy, cramped) one-bedroom apartment has skyrocketed to $2,400 in recent years. Tourists don’t have to worry about rent, but other prices have shot up too. You may find yourself paying $3 for a coffee, $6 for a beer, and $15 for a good burger.
However: although average prices may be high, you can ALWAYS find cheap food, coffee, and beer in our city. You just have to do some searching and asking around. For example, this place serves big banh mi sandwiches for $3.75. And this place has $1 beers on Tuesdays.
3. You have to wear a sweater in July.
Because San Francisco is surrounded by the ocean, we have a very strange weather schedule. From June to August, while the rest of California enjoys the sun, our city is foggy and cool. Then in September, we have what we like to call our “Indian Summer” – the warmest, sunniest month in San Francisco. Please don’t be one of those tourists who practically freezes to death because he comes here in July with a suitcase full of shorts and T-shirts. Pack some layers, or better yet, come in September.
4. There are a lot of homeless people.
San Francisco has a lot of soup kitchens and shelter programs to help homeless people, and therefore, our city attracts a large amount of them. You will regularly be hit up on the street for change, especially in the Civic Center/Downtown area, which is right by Union Square.
5. It smells like pee.
We have all these homeless people, and hey, they have to pee somewhere, right? Unfortunately, this makes certain neighborhoods smell strongly of pee. Especially the Tenderloin.
6. We have a really complicated bus system.
I can see how some people could really hate MUNI (our bus system). It’s really hard to figure out – there are a ton of different bus lines, all crisscrossing each other and going different directions. You often have to take 2 or 3 different buses to get from one side of the city to the other. It took me a good year to really get the hang of it, so tourists have little hope. Check out this map of the MUNI lines to see what I mean.
I think that people sometimes come to San Francisco expecting fancy hotels and five-star restaurants, without realizing how gritty the city can be. So consider yourself warned, and if this list doesn’t scare you off, come on down!
Muni Map photo courtesy of http://www.sfmta.com/maps/muni-system-map