In February 2012, I found myself in San Francisco to visit Dylan, a close friend of mine. One of my very favorite things about the city was the public transportation; I took the train (the BART) from the airport to meet Dylan downtown, and from there we rode the bus (the MUNI) to get around the city. The public transportation provided for incredibly inexpensive ways to get around, as well as unique views and perspectives from routes you may not travel normally.

A tip to those visiting San Francisco for the first time: the weather is beautiful, but it can change dramatically from afternoon to sunset. I recommend bringing clothes for easy layering; scarves, gloves, cardigans, hats, etc.

Dylan took me to some of her favorite places. She lived within walking distance to Golden Gate Park, where we checked out the de Young museum. The coolest thing about the museum was the observation tower that allowed us panoramic views of the city.

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If you look closely, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the upper right corner of this photo.

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This is the view of the top of the California Academy of Sciences. We didn’t go inside, but the “Living Roof” is really cool. The sculpture garden in the park is also worth checking out; we got lost in it for at least an hour.

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We also checked out the MOMA downtown, which was filled with priceless art and interactive exhibits.

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The upper levels of the MOMA also had a few patios scattered about that offered views of the city. We also had time to stop for a latte at the café on the very top floor – one of the best I’ve ever had.

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After a picnic in Dolores Park, we spent an entire day walking around the Mission District, weaving in and out of thrift stores and stopping to check out the street art. I found this mural on The Women’s Building, which was a collaboration between over seven women artists, particularly stunning. The website lists many messages for the theme of the mural, but my favorite is “the healing power of women’s wisdom over time.”

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The most memorable part of our adventure in the Mission was our visit to the Clarion Alley Mural Project. It is exactly how it sounds; it is an alley that is covered from top to bottom with murals. We even saw a few artists working on new contributions while we wandered around. Because these pictures are over two years old, and the murals are constantly changing, it is perhaps unlikely that you can view many of these for yourself, but I was able to do some research to find the original artists of these murals to attribute their work.

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Jet Martinez, “Apart From and A Part of the World”
Inside the silhouette of the man is a landscape view of Clarion Alley.

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Crystal Veilu la, “Seeing Light”

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Horea, “V is Not For Vendetta”
Dylan had the pleasure of meeting the artist of this mural. He is a Romanian immigrant who bought a secondhand translation book when he arrived in the states. The “V” page was ripped out, so these are all the words he didn’t know.

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Mary Joy Scott, “Hearts, Skulls, Eyes.”

In summary, my favorite part about San Francisco was how the city openly celebrated art; not just the classic kind for museum viewing, but public pieces done by local artists which beautify the streets. The city is vibrantly colorful and easy to explore via public transportation – really, I cannot recommend the public transportation enough.

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