Just back from 5 nights in SF and fell in love with the city, I definitely want to return someday. For the record, I am early 20s female and this is both my first solo trip and also the furthest I have ever traveled. This is my first trip report so I hope I do good at it!! I will post each day in the comments.
Day 1 - travel day
I had to take a bus to the airport at 3am so decided to pull an all-nighter and try to adjust to the new time zone I would be in. I had 18 hours of travel time ahead of me once I boarded my first flight at 8.40am (12.40am SF time) and the plan was to sleep through the first 9 hour flight then stay awake until I got to San Francisco.
I got to the airport with plenty of time but the guy checking my bags told me to be at US customs at 5.50am, which gave me about 10 minutes to get there. I raced to the escalators and seen a large sign, "US Customs will open at 6.50am"...hmm perhaps the agent had been confused about the clocks changing 1 hour a couple of weeks ago? I was slightly disappointed because I was very anxious about this aspect of the trip, having read they really grill solo travelers, and this meant I had an extra hour to wait and overthink the whole thing!
Got talking to a guy from Kansas in the waiting area, turns out our favorite band is the same which was awesome considering they aren't well known! He had actually gone to their concert while in Dublin. After talking for a while time passed quickly and it was soon time to go through US security. I took a deep breath and reminded myself thousands of people do this every day.
I was second to be called, and perhaps I just got lucky, but the security agent was really friendly! He was full of smiles, we talked about my trip and he recommended clubs/places for me to visit on the second part of my trip (Las Vegas) as he took my finger prints. Within minutes he said to me "You are good to go! Get ready for the time of your life, welcome to the USA". That was a breeze! Made my way to my gate and got talking to a guy from San Diego before boarding the flight. I was hoping everyone in the United States would be this friendly!
Boarded my flight. I paid an extra €55 for economy comfort with Delta, but the plane was old and I didn't really feel that it was worth it. I had booked it only for the "comfort" aspect since I wasn't going to be drinking alcohol on the flight the free unlimited spirits wasn't a selling point to me. I wish they would at least give an extra pillow for under your bottom as those seats start to get uncomfortable a couple of hours into the flight!
Took 2 sleeping pills shortly after takeoff, put on my sleeping mask and relaxed. I slept on-and-off for around 3.5 hours then stayed awake for the rest of the flight. It passed quicker than I expected and before I knew it, we were landing in Atlanta. Atlanta airport was a breeze to navigate through. The flight from ATL-SFO felt like it would never end! But thankfully I was seated next to (another!) very friendly American, who by the end of the flight had invited me to come spend Thanksgiving with her family. She also gave me her name, her phone number and her husbands number, because I was travelling alone and she was worried about me! What a sweet lady! Before getting off the plane the guy who was seated on the aisle seat of our row told me he overheard our conversation and would recommend Millenium restaurant for vegetarian food. I hadn't even got to SF yet and every single person I encountered from the United States had been so friendly and helpful.
After landing in SF I collected my baggage and followed the signs for shuttle buses. I didn't reserve in advance but found the SuperShuttle stop and gave them the address and took a seat. I asked how much it would be and he said " I don't know, just ask the driver" which I thought was kind of rude. A rough guide price would have been nice. About 2 mins later the driver came, quicker than I expected, and he had broken English and didn't understand what I was saying when I asked what the cost would be. I was tired and just wanted to get there so hopped in the van.
It took a while to get into the city, there was a lot of traffic as you would expect at 6pm! I enjoyed the view of the city all lit up as we came closer, it filled me with excitement and I realized that I was really here, after all of this planning... I was finally in San Francisco.
The shuttle driver dropped me off first, i'm not sure why but I was so thankful. Although if I was another passenger who had been in the shuttle longer I wouldn't be too happy! :) It was $17 and I gave him a $3 tip. I hope that was enough, I was still trying to get used to the idea of tipping which isn't common where I live.
Got to my rental apartment in the Mission district and it looked exactly like the pictures. I freshened up then checked on Yelp for somewhere nearby to grab a quick dinner. Taqueria Cancun was tonights place of choice and it only took about 3 mins to walk there, along 19th st. I didn't feel uncomfortable at all until I got to Mission St, and there was a group of men staring at me and trying to get my attention. I just ignored it and went inside. I ordered the vegetarian burrito to go, which came to less than $6 including tax. Got back to the apartment and seen the size of the burrito (along with the free chips & salsa!) ...even though I had barely eaten all day, there was no way I could eat all of that food! Had about half of it then put the leftovers in the fridge for the next day. Still couldn't believe I had gotten two dinners for under $6, I loved this place already!
Got into bed around 9pm and slept until 4.45am.