Tag Archives: Exploration

Experience Fisherman’s Wharf in Downtown SanFran!

 By: Rohan 

Downtown San Francisco is stunning to say the least. It is filled with iconic landmarks ranging from the Transamerica Pyramid, Alcatraz Island, Pier 39, and the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. There’s so much to do in the Fisherman’s Wharf area that it’s sometimes hard to decide what to see first. Never fear, Paupers Without Travel is here to provide you with the must-do activities and restaurants you simply must see before leaving the harbor.

1. The Ghirardelli Store: Believe it or not, Ghirardelli was founded and established along the pristine waters of the San Francisco Bay in a factory-like building located on Pier 39. The store lights up at night with a giant neon sign overhead and unleashes an aroma of freshly-made chocolate, fudge, and cocoa throughout the wharf. The store is cozy, with plenty of room to sit down and have a bite of something sweet after a delicious dinner at the harbor. Adjacent to the shop is the Fairmont Hotel, a beautiful luxury resort with splendid views of the harbor.

2. See the Sea Lions: Many people miss this attraction in Fisherman’s Wharf because they are too busy to even notice it. As you are walking down Pier 39, you will come across a large rock near the dock. Every day, hundreds of sea lions gather on the boulder to soak in some sun and wave to tourists and residents alike. They are charming, silly, and cute animals just begging for attention. Make sure you have your camera ready! – PS – This year, the Sea Lions seem to have done a disappearing act! http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Famed-sea-lions-vanish-from-Fisherman-s-Wharf-5585563.php 

3. Boudin’s Bakery: Boudin’s is a restaurant off of Fisherman’s Wharf and across the street from Pier 39. It is similar to a Panera but has a unique German and central European flavor to it that is to die for. The bread comes out of the oven fresh and is delivered to your table not by a waiter, but by an elaborate system of baskets hanging from the ceiling that travels from table to table. Boudin’s certainly knows how to make the ordinary, extraordinary.

4. Candy: We mentioned the Ghirardelli store earlier but aside from that chocolate warehouse, Fisherman’s Wharf is littered with candy stores offering fresh taffy and caramel for you to indulge in. It’s all made at the wharf and there’s nothing quite like it.

5. Soak in the Sights: You never know what will happen on Fisherman’s Wharf. Near the carousel, you can usually find a street performer or two; juggling or doing magic tricks. Sometimes, there are spontaneous laser-light shows and fireworks that are completely unplanned and unannounced. Fisherman’s Wharf is vibrant when the sun sets and full of surprises making every day feel like something special.

After a relaxing evening at the Wharf, it’s fun to take a cable car up one of the sloped streets and see the wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the mysterious Alcatraz Island from a birds-eye view. Talk about a way to conclude a fun-filled day in San Francisco!

Be In Awe, Be Present- Using Your Natural Lens

By Siddhi: 

After traveling on eight flights starting in New York and throughout Southeast Asia to reach Siem Reap in Cambodia, aside from a few compulsory family pictures here and there, these are the only photos I took at Banteay Srei in the legendary city of Angkor. Yes, in this widely talked about jewel of classic Khmer art and Cambodian architecture I photographed none of the art or the architecture. And not because I couldn’t. I had my beloved camera, some great lenses, and an iPhone in hand.

Today I was disturbed.

A man, who constantly interchanged a set of high-class lenses with his two Nikons without a pause in his clicks, asked his wife: “So, what happened in this place?” to which she responded, “I think it’s important for Buddha” and then went to pose for a series of photos in front of a stone tower uninterested in any remotely valid answer to the question.  Shockingly, derivatives of this same ignorance manifested themselves throughout the day in Angkor’s most historically critical spots. People were venturing from the opposite site of the world to witness the extraordinary relics of humanity that few are lucky enough to see in their lifetimes, and traded the experience for a full flash card and a superficial (sometimes nonexistent), understanding of where they were. 90% of their time was spent behind a camera screen and not really what they came to see. I felt frustrated for hours. And then it sunk in that the irritation stemmed from the fact that I was one of these people.  Even if I had always researched a destination before arriving, I had never in my life really been present.

I’ve had the tremendous fortune of spending moments in the world’s most enthralling places, but the tremendous, self-imposed misfortune of misspending those moments.  I’ve taken thousands of images, few if any that can’t be Googled, of history’s most magical, humbling, and awe-inspiring gifts to mankind. But I have barely a handful of genuine of moments in my memory bank that evoke magic, humility, and awe within me. Really, all I have are recollections of being in important places. Recollections? What a mediocre and unacceptable celebration of the privilege I’d had to see this incredible world.

As a film student and lover of photography, I’ll be the first to say that taking pictures during travel is a beautiful thing. Good images immortalize fleeting moments, and have been, at least for me, a lasting source of joy over the years.  But as someone who respects the visual medium and the art of travel even more, I have come to realize that I have liberally offended both. I’ve diluted the meaning of moments, insulted the rare opportunity to constantly roam and learn from the world, by allowing a piece of technology and not my flesh and soul to be the carriers of experience.

The Pyramids of Cairo, The Great Wall of China, the Colosseum, the Parthenon, and even the Empire State Building I see daily but barely glance at – all of Earth’s magical sites have become visual trophies on my Facebook profile instead of memories that arouse the emotional and physical meaning of standing on the very geography that wove human history.

While I speak volumes about how travel has shaped me as a person, my words have been hollow, guided from behind a lens and not the enriching quality of presence. So today, I did something I haven’t done in my entire life of travel. My camera, the domineering eyes of my journeys, was tucked away in my backpack for the duration of the day and replaced by my naturally endowed lens.

Today, I decided to travel consciously, with all my senses.

Today, I ran my fingers against 12th century stone and felt, with my 21st century hands, the same exact piece of stone that once built an empire, my handprint perhaps matching one of an ancient soul. Today, with my Japanese running shoes purchased in America, a country that hadn’t even been discovered when this temple was built, I treaded the same grounds as the Thai invaders, my invisible footprints over theirs, painting the paths that once rewrote Khmer history.  Today, I just stood. I stood and let not a highly reviewed monument, not a heritage site, and not a Kodak photo spot define where I was and why I was there. Instead, I saw Angkor as living, breathing time capsule of ancient civilization that science, technology, and human spirit had enabled a 20 year old from modern day New York to enter, interact with, and be awed by. The feeling was just amazing, wholly consuming, so beautiful.

Today I felt humbled and empowered at the same time. Human flesh like mine once forged these magnificent testaments of dreams. Just like mine. If humans can construct such splendor, I’ve accomplished very little thus far in tapping into my own potential.  If humans can construct such splendor, there is nothing in this world I can’t do.  I can only imagine how enriched a person I could have been had I seen the world more genuinely earlier on.

We all travel for different reasons. Some of us really don’t know why we travel, but we like framing the pictures we bring home or making our friends jealous on Instagram. If that achieves personal fulfillment, it’s awesome.

But for true enrichment and true memory, don’t reduce travel to a checklist, don’t reduce travel to pixels. Be eternally in awe. Be eternally present.

(and once in a while a selfie is totally cool.  #YOLO)

Walking the drained beds of the Kaveri River

By Siddhi: 

Hey readers! I’m currently writing from Trichy, an ancient city in the state of Tamil Nadu in India. For the next three months, I will be working on researching and implementing solutions with various grassroots initiatives in rural education reform in Tamil Nadu, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh. To read more about my trip, you can follow my personal blog at www.siddhisundar.com/journal, where I am trying to keep as active a journal as possible throughout the duration of my adventure. I will also be A Global Affair’s official India correspondent (that sounded really cool when I wrote it out!) for the next few months, so I’ll be posting various materials I find interesting.

Yesterday, my equally adventurous uncle and I walked across a drained Kaveri River, a large body of water that flows from the state of Karnataka through the Deccan Plateau, traversing much of South India before pouring into the Bay of Bengal. Once it starts to rain significantly again here in Trichy, the river will once again be brimming with water and life. This was one of those very rare and naturally intriguing circumstances where a combination of geography and timing allowed for a pretty unusual physical experience. We walked from the island of Srirangam to the central areas of Trichy by using the dried beds of the Kaveri River as a linkage. It was certainly a memorable time. Here are some pictures from the walk: