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The World In Your Backyard

This world that we live in is such a huge, diverse, wonder-filled place. It can be overwhelming trying see it all, explore it all. For some, just getting a passport can seem daunting. The experiences that are out there though, the food, the drinks, the people, the cultures, they can be fascinating and intimidating. They can also be alluring. Some people just can't travel outside of their city/state/country. This doesn't mean they can't experience some of these exotic worlds.

I just spent a day in San Fransisco, California. As an American, this wasn't overly difficult to get to. My favorite way to experience any city (anywhere in the world) is to just walk and explore. Get lost traversing these new-to-me places. I love the food, drink and culture of new places, but even the architecture of buildings are often unique to certain areas. San Fransisco did not disappoint.

I started down at Fisherman's Wharf. This is a bustling area, with food stands and restaurants, not-so-starving seagulls, and famous clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. If you are on the wharf, this is a must! Creamy, thick soup full of tasty clams and potatoes, in a warm bread bowl that has just the right amount of sourdough punch to compliment the soup perfectly. It is a delicious bite! I went to Sabella & La Torre ( sat at the bar, had great service and wonderful food.

I then went on exploring, and it was like walking through multiple countries.

My wandering led me to "Little Italy." Having just been in Italy a few months ago, this was an easy comparison. There were several similarities. People sitting outside at small patio tables having aperitifs (@calzonesf), beautiful churches ( , small local art galleries (, hat shops (@goorinbros), restaurants that have red and white checkered tablecloths and melting candles in empty chianti bottles ( If you've not had the opportunity to visit Italy in person yet, my mentioning hat shops may sound odd. However, I saw several specialty hat stores when I was in Italy, and thought they were so cool. Sufficed to say, they are alive and well in Little Italy in San Fransisco also, and still so cool! The way you know you are in Little Italy? You need only look at all the light poles, as they all have the Italian flag painted on them. There is plenty to see as you stroll through the neighborhood.

As I continued to meander through, I came to Chinatown. As much as I felt like Little Italy reminded me of actual Italy, Chinatown felt like I had teleported into another country. All of the signs are written in Chinese. The architecture of the buildings and decor changed, the types of stores and business' changed, it was all so...busy. In fairness, I was there right at Chinese New Year, but I'm not sure this is the only reason. I have not been to China to compare, but this feels like what I imagine walking through a market in China is like. There were all kinds of fruits for sale - some familiar and some very unfamiliar. There were fish stores with all kinds of seafood. There were vase shops and dimly lit restaurants, and bright spots where people would get their food and go. I saw older men sitting off the side of some of these stores playing games, with others standing around. There was little to no English being spoken, so many people, and lots of new sights and smells. It was wonderfully intriguing.

As I walked through these neighborhoods, it felt like I was in far away places. There was a strong sense of community in all the neighborhoods I wandered through. It was exciting and stimulating, delightful and fresh. Trying new things, experiencing food and cultures different from what you are used to can be intimidating. It can also be freeing, exhilarating, and enlightening. If you don't have a passport, get one. If you have a passport, use it. If neither of these are an option, look local, because you might surprise yourself at the unknown worlds you can encounter and explore right in your own backyard!

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