San Francisco – America’s European City

The city is one of many dreams fulfilled, which is something that seems to be apparent as you walk down the street and see the beaming expressions on faces left and right. Like any city, San Francisco also has its grit, but where elegance, good taste and class are concerned, the city has been called more than once by people who know, “European”. Why do they say this about San Francisco? Well, there are a dozen and more reasons, but the binding factor is that San Francisco is politically divergent.

Or, it might be the coffee. It might be the café au lait that you can sit to in any number of chic, outdoor bistros, heated in the colder months. This is not to say that other American cities don’t also dabble in the typical European, or more precisely, French, pastime of sitting to a drink and patiently playing observer to the world, but it is to say that there are more instances of it.

San Francisco is a clean city. This has a lot to do with its progressive politics, which have been likened to those of some of the more ecologically-minded Scandinavian countries. In San Francisco, you will see categorical recyclables bins beside the trash, beside the compost, beside the paper-only. You’ll see parking spaces with weird electrical terminals, and maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of an electrical car stationed there. Surely you’ll see Segways zooming about under the slight weight adjustments of their drivers. In restaurants you’ll find biodegradable utensils and plates, and most shoppers in the big markets will have their own canvas bags or rollers in tow.

The city steeps comfortably in the quintessentially laid-back urban atmosphere, where alternative is in and retro is now. Of all American cities, it’s probably in San Francisco where you’ll see the latest trends of European capitals find expression—whether we’re talking about fashion, film or food is anyone’s guess.

San Francisco is home to the best public university in the country, UC Berkeley. As such a hub of higher education, the city of Berkeley and of San Fran itself is graced with the presence of stout minds and intriguing debate. On any day, in any venue, you can find a good conversation. This isn’t to say that intellect is something unique to European scenes, but what you find in San Francisco is akin to what you find in Brussels—San Franciscans are direct, prudent and unafraid of variable discourse.

Berkeley was the center of focus during the protests which began in ’68 and created of the next decade a generation to remember—the hippies. Those days of sexual liberation, peace, political freedom and civil rights rallies have gone away, but the traditions and lifestyles remain. Every once in a while a protest will form up, and for a visitor it is always interesting to see (if it remains peaceful), but the reflection of the city’s past is best observed through the experience of its music venues, its festivals and its everyday candid approach to urban living.

The last snippet might not have much to do with Europe, but for some reason folks tend to equate it with that continent. Otherwise, the other facts and presentations here should give you a decent idea of what makes San Francisco so intriguing to outsiders, who come to America and expect something gruffer. If you spend enough time in a San Francisco hostel (can be booked using HostelBookers), exploring the city, you’ll soon see it more as the perfect hybrid of American and European influences, an urban scape cross-section whereby you can delve into the differences and similarities of cultures.

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