Tag Archives: How To’s

Walking the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco; A Photoessay

She is an undisputed beauty, one that has been a constant presence in welcoming me with her outstretched arms from up in the air and down on land, during my many visits to San Francisco.  So, it was just a matter of time before I showed my respect and gratitude by arriving at her doorstep.

With family ensconsed in the area and more frequent visits, it was time to propel this iconic visit to the top of my bucket list.  So on a beautiful August morning, armed with just the right amount of Golden Gate Bridge tips, we ubered it over to the South End of the bridge.

She is a beauty up close for sure.  Yes, all those jaw dropping pictures of her, omnipresent across social media are real! And she is indeed proof of being one of those perfect places where the marvels of engineering meet the gifts of nature.

The books and websites caution you to keep aside several hours to traverse her length and to turn back halfway if you don’t have enough time.  My personal take? Please don’t turn around.  Please take the time to walk the entire length of the Golden Gate bridge.  As you can see from the pictures below, this is “THE” way in which you can marvel at the wonder and beauty created by the juxtaposition of one of the most beautiful man-made objects set against the jaw dropping beauty of the city of San Francisco.  There are some beautiful pictures to capture here, but if you are not carrying a spare battery for your phone, you may want to space your picture-taking along the walk.

We took our time, pausing to admire the views, staring intently at the power of the cables holding the bridge and of course soaking in the conversations and energy from families, intense joggers and laid back bikers sharing our walk.  It was a beautiful experience, almost surreal, and I hope I was able to transmit the feelings of contentment and gratitude to the icon who has been a constant on my visits to the area.

We’d love to hear about your most memorable bridge crossings on foot, bike and beyond!

How to do a weekend trip to Basel and Lucerne on a budget

By Rohan:

When my friend from the Syracuse University London program pitched the idea of meeting up in Switzerland, my eyes instantly lit up. The Swiss Alps have always been a dream destination for me. I was simultaneously enchanted by their beauty and spooked by their mythical tales. I booked my flight with trepidation, knowing that the country is notorious for being expensive. Needless to say, I’m so glad I went.

We flew into Basel, an intriguing town on the Rhine River that straddles three countries: Switzerland, France, and Germany. Flights were reasonable (via EasyJet) and we were able to secure a budget hotel (Ibis) near Basel’s main railway station. The city instantly won me over with its mobility ticket- a free public transportation pass you receive should you stay at one of its many hotels. Trams frequently departed from our hotel to the train station, the Marktplatz, and other idyllic locations on the Rhine. It was perfect for two college students on a budget. We spent our first evening exploring charming old Basel. The Rathaus dominates the main square, boasting an illustrious facade made of stunning red sandstone. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore and finding a cheap bar on the Rhine to end the night was definitely a plus.

From the beginning, we knew we wanted to see the Alps. After seeing them from afar during my last trip to Munich and seeing them from the sky as we approached Basel, not going would be such a letdown. Trains run frequently from Basel to the picturesque town of Lucerne, but they do cost a pretty penny. Thankfully, they are convenient and comfortable enough to justify the price tag (and it would be the only way we would get to see Switzerland’s famous mountains). In just over an hour, our train pulled into Lucerne’s main station, a modern building that stands out from the medieval architecture along the lakefront. Lucerne was an instant hit. The city’s historical center hugs the water and the Chapel Bridge looks straight out of a fairytale. We caught the cheap bus from the station to the village of Kriens, where our journey to the top of Mount Pilatus was to begin.

Mount Pilatus is one of Lucerne’s most impressive features. Little red cable cars ascend the mountain for thirty-minute scenic trips. From the top, you feel like you’re on another planet. There are very few places in the world where you can look down at clouds. Just being there, I was in awe that the land we were standing on was created by nature. It’s one thing to see Manhattan from the top of the Empire State or Puget Sound from the top of the Space Needle, it’s another to see one of the most famous mountain ranges from one of its many majestic peaks. It literally and metaphorically took my breath away. I encourage anyone in Europe to make a voyage to the Alps. Their grandeur and fascinating mythology is enough to justify how much it costs to get up there. It is often said that travel is the only thing that makes you richer. As college students on a budget, we couldn’t agree more.

First Impressions of Madrid: Europe’s Hidden Gem

By Rohan:

From Gaudi-filled Barcelona to festive Ibiza, Spain appears to be the king of European coastlines. I remember falling in love with Barceloneta beach, its sunny shores the perfect complement to a fruity Tinto de Verano. It is hard not to fall in love with the Spanish people. I know I did, and that’s why I decided to spend my semester abroad in Madrid. Spain’s capital is completely landlocked, and most of its other cities are on its perimeter, making it not as frequented by tourists as some of Catalonian cousins. That being said, it took less than 24 hours to fall in love with it. Madrid is livable, lovable, and filled to the brim with life and excitement.

There are few cities in the world that make the kind of first impression that Madrid does. Whether you arrive into the stunning international terminal at Barajas Airport or the garden-filled paradise that is Atocha Station, Madrid delights the visitor from the start. The city has one of the best collections of art anywhere. The Thyssen, Reina Sofia, and Prado museums form a triangle of culture that is only rivaled by Paris, New York, and London. Many of the city’s main squares are within easy walking distance of one another, and feature amazing tapas, refreshing sangria, and picturesque architecture. As a college student living in the city, I could not be happier with how many free attractions Madrid has to offer. The Templo de Debod, an Egyptian temple donated to the Spanish government, is situated in a park on the west side of the city, and from here, watching the sunset is the perfect way to end the day. Just across Madrid’s old square (the Plaza Mayor) is the Mercado de San Miguel, a 19th century market with plenty of cheap eats. And of course, Retiro Park is a people-watcher’s paradise. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, an ice cream and a grassy spot in the shade can be a perfect way to spend a few hours.

That being said, Madrid is one of the most livable cities in Europe. The government has clearly put a lot of effort in maintaining its historical charm, meaning that the city is clean, safe, and accommodating to tourists. Madrid also has one of the best public transportation systems anywhere, and I was pleasantly surprised at how efficient the Metro is when it comes to getting around town. Madrid combines the best of its European neighbors. It is a melting pot of Rome’s regal streets, London’s hip nightlife, and Paris’ trendy fashion scene. It combines old world charm with modern and efficient transportation. It is the perfect place to spend a few months. I’ve barely scratched the surface but Madrid, you’ve got me hooked.