From One Bridge to Another: A Week in San Francisco

Ashley Waters

I’ve lived in Boston for the past 13 years and grew up in Philadelphia before that. I’m a true East coaster – through and through. However, when I had the chance to head to San Francisco and work out of the PAN SF office for a week, I leapt at the opportunity. I was lucky enough to be the recipient of the PAN Experience award, which meant I had the opportunity to spend a week visiting a PAN office of my choice. (BTW, PAN Experience is just one of the many cool perks at PAN.) While New York and Orlando are great, San Francisco was a no-brainer for me.

SAN Francisco PAN perk Here are a few of my top tips and lessons learned after seven days on the West Coast.

Check the weather and pack accordingly

Listen, I know its summer, and in Boston we experienced record-breaking heat. And you might think, “Oh, it’s California, it will be hot.” You will be wrong. And you will be cold. Everyone told me to pack layers and prepare to dress warm in California – yet somehow, I still didn’t listen. San Francisco in August gets cold – especially along the water when the wind kicks up, the fog rolls in, and the sun goes down. It’s not cold for summer; it’s just cold. No wonder you see all the tourists walking around in San Francisco hoodies! To my SF-based colleagues who dealt with me complaining about the weather, thanks for listening and sorry I didn’t take your recommendations more seriously.

If possible, work East Coast hours

I realize it sounds insane to be online every day at 5:30am PT, but if you can manage, it’s so worth it. While tired, I was able to log-off around 2:30/3pm PT every day and go exploring! While the San Francisco PAN office is fantastic, I wasn’t there to sit inside all day. By working East Coast hours, I was able to make the most of my time and spend each weekday night exploring new neighborhoods. From strolling down Haight Street and checking out the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square, to grabbing an iconic Irish Coffee at Buena Vista and saying hi to the sea lions at Pier 39, I was able to hit my tourist hot-spots in the middle of the afternoon each day.

Take advantage of the best local offerings

My colleagues in San Francisco were my go-to resource when I wanted to figure out where to eat or what to see each day. My priority was to get as much local, authentic food as possible – and they did not disappoint. From Pacific oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. in the Ferry Building, to a carne asada burrito at Taquería El Farolito in the Mission – I literally ate my way through the city. But while there are plenty of places you can find via Google, your best bet is to ask the people who live there! Just don’t ask the entire office which ice cream place is their favorite  – you are starting a battle. My personal choice? Balsamic strawberry from Bi-Rite Creamery.

Here’s to my next trip out West! Thanks for having me, San Francisco, and thanks for sending me, PAN. One thing I didn’t learn how to do? Slow down my walking pace – blame it on my East Coast ways, but I walk way too fast for that city.

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