“Mind the closing doors” is a phrase that commuters are sick to death of hearing. Its also a phrase that most people adhere to, save a few that we immediately roll our eyes and tut at. But that’s because they barge on for themselves, getting their arms or bags caught, just to save an extra few minutes waiting for the next tin can stuffed to the brim. But today, reader, I was that person. Or, rather, someone else was that person for me.
As I approached the platform, through the network of tunnels, I saw the tube waiting, with its doors open. I broke into a half-run, expecting to catch it, but alas, I heard the warning beeps of the closing doors, just as I reached the dreaded yellow line. But then, oh but then. A foot stuck itself out from where the doors slide out, and a kind stranger stopped the door, giving me time to board and promoting the message “please stand clear of the doors”.
Now, I wasn’t too bothered if I missed the train; the bakerloo line runs every couple of minutes so it made no real difference to me. But it was an act of kindness, from a man who owed me nothing, expected nothing in return, and that I would never see again. It’s prompted me to look again at my commute, at every aspect of my life, and think about how I could use small, random acts of kindness, just to keep the cycle of goodwill alive. Giving up my seat without hesitation (come on, you know we all think twice before offering it up); buying a round of coffee in the morning to help the day along for my teammates; smiling at strangers; all small acts that could really go a long way to improving someone’s day.
So, thank you, kind stranger, for keeping that door open for me. Please do mind the closing doors though. The delays can be a real inconvenience…
I recently went to an Indian wedding abroad in the state of California, so there was no way we could pass up a trip to The Bay! But having spent a week at the wedding itself (there’ll be another post all about that don’t you worry), we wanted to make the most out of a very short space of time. And of course, the responsibility of creating an itinerary falls to the eldest, the first-born, the only organised person in the family; me. So without further ado, I give you my Three-Day Itinerary for San Francisco:
No trip to the Bay would be complete without a visit to The Rock, and at just a short mile away, you’d be daft to pass up the trip! But make sure to book in advance – Alcatraz tours sell out months beforehand, and it’s one of the most interesting and eerie places I’ve visited in a long time. The audio-guide is also a must – taking you through the ghost halls and recalling the history of the prison, from back when it was a military fort of strategic value, to the occupation of The Rock by various Native American groups.
View from the Library
Be sure to block out the entire day though – while the ferry trip takes almost no time at all, the exploration of the island can take absolutely hours, and the last thing you should do is rush through it.
2. The Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco’s most iconic landmark. Always best on a sunny day, when the fog and mist can’t obscure the view of such an incredible structure, the Golden Gate Bridge is a true testament to human ingenuity. Suspended entirely over water, carrying thousands of vehicles and people each day, the bridge is a wonder to behold. Built in X by Y, the bridge has stood the test of time, and has been modified as technology advances, to keep it safe and operational on a daily basis. It took my breath away and is one of the reasons I left my heart in San Francisco.
Aside from skyscrapers and financial districts, there is one thing that all major cities have in common – Chinatown. And as an ethic minority myself, nothing brings me greater joy than seeing other minorities band together to create their spaces. Fundamentally, every Chinatown is the same – a range of restaurants, shops and markets, created by and for East Asians. But Chinatown in San Francisco blew me away, because it showcased street art the likes of which I have never seen before; not even in Shoreditch.
4. Fisherman’s Wharf
If you live near a harbour or pier, you might not understand why there’s so much hype surrounding Fisherman’s Wharf, but it really is worth it. With fresh seafood being served on every corner, and various museums and activities placed at the different piers, it’s worth exploring, especially if you’re making the trip to Alcatraz.
Sea lions having a snooze
In particular, be sure to check out Pier 39, which is home to some truly beautiful sea lions. Displaced after a natural disaster, they have made Pier 39 their home, and are well-loved by both tourists and locals.
5. Lombard Street
Perhaps the simplest and yet most stunning site in San Francisco is this small residential street at the top of a hill. Famous for its zig-zag shape, Lombard Street is like something out of a fairytale. The houses stand tall, bright and full of foliage, and the road meanders downhill, showcasing the stunning view of the city below.
The famous San Francisco tram network has a stop right by this popular tourist spot, and I fully recommend taking a trip between Lombard Street and Fisherman’s Wharf via tram. You get to see the whole city and experience the novelty of vintage trams! The best one was Powell and Hyde St, so definitely check that out.
San Francisco is one of the more exciting cities I’ve visited in a long time, and we covered a wide area of the city, hitting all the major landmarks. After living in London and Madrid, my expectations are pretty high, but as a big fan of The Princess Diaries, I had a fantastic time re-living my childhood and pretending to be the Princess of Genovia.
The sky is grey, the rain is threatening, but life is good. Why? Because today I saw a dog on the tube.
Dogs on the tube are the most precious of all dogs. They are well behaved, they are (usually) quite quiet, and all they want is to be friends with everyone. There, on a hot, stuffy tin can jostling through the tube network, was the sweetest creature who just wanted to be petted and loved, and who are we to deny them that?
Of course, not everyone is a dog-person but I’m sure everyone can appreciate how a sweet and fluffy creature can have a calming effect on the road-rage of public transport. The tube network is hot, it’s cramped, it’s loud and uncomfortable, but whenever someone brings a dog on board, I can’t help but smile.
So, an entirely selfish plea to all you dog-owners out there: please bring your dogs on the tube. Take them for walks throughout London’s parks and bring them home on our tube network. Bring a smile to someone’s dull commute.