76-Second Travel Show: ‘Is San Francisco Better than NYC?’

Episode #028
F E A T U R I N G * 7 0 * B O N U S * S E C O N D S

Little known fact: Charlie Dickens was a travel writer. He did a romp across the US and summed up his whining take in a book (I have it, but haven’t read — I only assume he whines) called ‘American Notes.’ But more associate him with the head-rolling ‘A Tale of Two Cities,’ which opens up with Dickens’ own Gettysburg Address-esque sound-byte: ‘Things were pretty good, and at the same time not so good.’ More or less.

The equivalent American two cities, at least on most people’s travel-dream radar, are New York City and San Francisco. Huge draws for visitors, and a less-talked-about bounce between New Yorkers longing for a slower pace, coastal drives, great wine — and some semblance of city life.

The usual routine goes — New Yorker in late 20s, dissastisfied with career, moves to San Francisco, then guts new friends by constantly comparing things to New York. In some ways, the Ugly American gone domestic. ‘This restaurant closes at 9pm — are you serious,’ said with only slight earnestness. ‘This would never happen in New York.’ And it wouldn’t.

Most move back to New York within five to eight years. (I did.)

Sometimes I liken New York to a boss (gets things done, and sends you blissfully reeling when it, on occasion, notices you), while San Francisco is a pizza buddy (comforting, always there, great coffee and burritos, plus a ‘robust’ theatre organ scene featuring the priceless David Hegarty, no real risks — other than grossness of large men at that nude beach beyond Golden Gate Bridge).

So, which is better?

About Robert Reid

Robert Reid is a travel writer (Lonely Planet, New York Times, ESPN), travel expert (Today Show, CNN's Headline News), travel videographer (76-Second Travel Show) and travel artist (don't ask).
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7 Responses to 76-Second Travel Show: ‘Is San Francisco Better than NYC?’

  1. Mike Barish says:

    I have to disagree that NYers enjoy making fun of SF. We much prefer to mock NJ, tease Boston and make fun of South Florida (even though it is – kinda/sorta – the sixth borough). Plus, we discuss Philly’s shortcomings way before SF even comes up in the conversation.

    Besides, ask any of us NYers who have been to SF and we’ll openly admit that Mission burritos make us long for the left coast (well, just for the Mexican food).

  2. Robert Reid says:

    It’s true NY makes more fun of Jersey, but Jersey is not a threat, generally speaking, to NY’s status as ruler of USA Greatness. Nor is Philly or Boston or SloFla. But SF is.

  3. tom caw says:

    Dalby + burrito x Hegarty + organ = Greatness. I like your math in this episode.

  4. T says:

    San Francisco is a THREAT to New York City? Say what? In what sense is a city of 800,000 people 3000 miles away a “threat”? Even the SF vs. LA rivalry is all in San Franciscans’ minds (people in LA could care less), so I don’t see New Yorkers (and no, I’m not one) caring much either way about a distant city that is very pretty and fun to visit but not much on most people’s radar and definitely not a “threat,” even in the broadest hipster-pissing-contest sense of the term.

  5. Robert Reid says:

    On the global TRAVEL scale, there are plenty of travelers that put San Francisco as more of a ‘dream city’ than NYC. ‘Threat’ is a relative term. And when I moved from NYC to San Francisco for five years, I frequently had NY-whine sessions of a fellow NYer or two who made fun of the ‘city that sleeps’ a bit — and in my mind there was a slight bit of defensiveness in it. Unlike a Phoenix or St Paul, SF is a real contender.

    I dunno.

    Musically, it’s no contest: NYC blows out SF. (Sorry Huey Lewis!)

  6. toonhut says:

    Nice one Robert! I’d love to comment on so many more of your videos and posts (44 little travel things) but I’ll start with this.

    I’m so happy you decided to live in the city with the Golden Gate for some years. What I don’t understand is why so many New Yorkers feel compelled to throw quips about all other cities anywhere in the world! OR at least splash unreserved pride (read: conceit) for the beaming NYC. I mean, are they really that insecure.

    I don’t hate NYC and I am not crazy about SF either. I like them both (please don’t shoot me). Each has its own distinct aura. Like Baz Luhrman said: Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.


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