A Weekend in San Francisco
If you've been following me on Instagram, you'll know that last week I got to spend a few days in sunny San Francisco. I was invited there by issuu, the website which we use to host Atlas on. We've been using issuu since the beginning of Atlas, and they've not only been huge supporters of us since the beginning, they're now also great friends. Probably the best part of it all was that I got to be reunited with Megan, one of my best friends and my business partner. Despite being in business together for four years already, this was only the second time we met in person, so it was huge for us. We're so grateful to issuu for the opportunity!
I arrived in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon, and after roughly 24h of travel (I left Cornwall on Tuesday night on the sleeper train), its safe to say I was exhausted. I dragged my far to big bag up to my hotel room, The Chancellor Hotel, dumped it on the floor and looked at my watch. Only 5pm. Definitely too early to go to bed (my brain was screaming at me - it was 3 am in the UK)! I've never been someone to stay up late, so jet lag to the USA is always tricky. I went for a little walk around the area in an attempt to get to grips with where I was, and force myself to stay awake as long as possible. By 8pm, I had caved and was fast asleep in my enormous hotel bed.
When I woke up at 6am on Thursday morning, I was super excited for the day ahead. issuu's "Generator Camp" didn't begin until the next day, so I had a full day to myself. I'm not going to lie, I spent the first half of it shopping on Union Square. It was so much fun! The warm weather was like a breath of fresh air, and my body was so happy to receive the Vitamin D after months of wintery rain in the UK. In the afternoon, I headed down to Fisherman's Wharf. I jumped on a cable car just outside my hotel (very convenient) and rode all the way there. Funny enough, that ride was free. I got on, and no one ever asked me for any money! Maybe I was supposed to offer it to someone, but I never saw anyone... so yay for me! I found it really nice to hear that San Fran locals also still use the cable cars themselves. One lady in particular said it was really practical for her, and she liked it because of the openness of them, and she got to chat to the tourists, who she said were always full of stories.
I walked along Fisherman's Wharf in the sun, trying to hold my breath as I couldn't really stand the smell of the sweet shops that adorn the streets. It's a very touristy area of San Francisco, but it is extremely charming. I can't lie, what I enjoyed the most was the sun and the warmth on my skin. Wearing a summer dress at the end of February made me so happy! I won't pretend I didn't fake tan before going though. My legs haven't seen the light of day in 6 months! No one wants to see that without a little extra help.
I walked up to Pier 39, had a look at the fat, sunbathing seals, and laughed at their noises. It was fun to watch the other tourists as they walked along the pier, taking photos, telling stories and making memories. I walked through the pier's shops, and made a mental note to get Tom a "California" sweatshirt before leaving. They actually looked pretty cool!
I was starting to get tired, but more than anything I was finally starting to feel a bit hungry. I don't know if this is a common symptom of jet lag, but I had no appetite at all! I found a little Italian restaurant along the front which offered gluten free pasta, and ordered a meal. I ate half of it (American portion sizes though) and asked for the bill. To my horror, in the USA they charge extra for gluten free pasta. Why should I be charged for having a health issue? Thanks very much!... not. Either way, the food was good, and I went back to the hotel and got into bed, my feet sore from all the walking I had done.
Friday came around fast, and it was the first official day of the issuu Generators Camp. Megan's flight arrived in at 10:30 am, so I left my hotel and headed down to the house we would all be staying at in The Mission. I knew I had arrived when I saw a red haired girl wearing all black stepping out of a taxi; it was Megan! I got out, payed the taxi driver (who gave himself a hefty tip without really asking!) and made many attempts to cross the street to give Megan a hug... but traffic is a thing. Eventually I crossed over, and we gave each other a big hug. People might think this is weird, but despite Megan and I only ever having met twice in person, you would never know it. We're so close, we talk every single day without fail, and when we're together it's as if it's been that way forever.
The house we were staying in was incredible. A bohemian dream! Just the living wall on the outside was indication enough that it was going to be "majorly grammable." We walked in and were welcomed by Lisie, the lovely Marketing Associate of issuu, and the person who had organised most of the weekend ahead. We dumped our bags in our super cool room, and went exploring. Megan really wanted to go to Fisherman's wharf, and I was more than happy to get back into that sun, so we went looking for a taxi. Uber was not an option with its enormous 1.6% surge prices, and we were quickly told by two local guys that "we would never find a taxi here" so Megan rang one.
Saturday was "the big day" with issuu. The whole reason for going to San Francisco was for issuu to gather together some of their best publishers for a conference and a series of talks. We were extremely flattered to be there! You can read about the day in detail over at Atlas, so I'll spare you that, but overall it was fascinating. We learnt about new products issuu are launching, heard industry professionals talk, and even made an attempt to create a brand new publication entirely from scratch in 2 hours!
Megan and I escaped for a few hours in the evening to get a bit of work done. All the work we do for Atlas is always done remotely. She is in New York, and I'm in the UK, so when we get a chance to do things one on one, we take it. We worked for about 2 hours, discussing ideas, choosing images and making cover decisions at lightning speed. Things go so much faster when you're not having to constantly reconnect to Skype!
Before we knew it, the day was over and we were heading to bed. I couldn't believe that the weekend had gone by so fast. Sunday morning arrived and I packed up my bad, as did Megan. Her flight was at 3pm, so she would have to leave quite a few hours before me. We left the house for a little while before she had to leave so that she could get herself one last taco from The Little Chihuahua on Valencia (she was obsessed). The time flew by, and before I could blink we were hugging goodbye and I waved her off as her taxi left. We must have looked sad, because her taxi driver asked her is I was her girlfriend!
I walked all the way up Valencia, a very cool, slightly hipster street full of independent boutiques and made the most of the warm weather while I still had it. Taking my time, I eventually headed back to the house, got my things and called a taxi. I had another long day and a half of travel ahead of me.
I can't begin to thank issuu enough for flying me all the way out to San Francisco, for the opportunity to learn more about the exciting industry we're in, but most of all for the chance to be reunited with my friend. It's a weekend I won't forget anytime soon, and I really hope to go back!