For decades, I hear people saying, it’s their dream to go to USA. But honestly speaking, it was not my dream to visit the United States of America. Instead, it was rendering in my mind somewhere, that one day I’ll be touring the country that has influenced the whole world in many ways. Whether it be technology, films or wars, United States of America has been involved in almost every matter of the world (at least since I’m here in the world). Apart from doing adventures outside the US, Americans have also built their country in a way people dream to visit it once in their life. And thus, I arrived in the United States on 23 June in 2016 at San Francisco International Airport. How did I get the US visa in Pakistan is explained in the link, and what’s Administrative processing for US visa is in the link too.
How I did I plan my 15 days US tour?
I always try to make a complete plan before I go for any short or long tour, but very honestly speaking, for this US tour, I didn’t make any special plans. Apart from the basic planning, such as booking a hotel room and flight ticket etc, I didn’t take any special measures into consideration. I thought, let’s do it on a day to day basis. My main purpose of this tour was to attend the 2 days Udemy Live Conference (25-26 June 2016).
How did I started the US tour?
I arrived in San Francisco on 23 June 2016 at 14:00 after taking a 16 hours long flight from Dubai, San Francisco is the IT hub in California state, Silicon Valley is also located here, most of the popular startups such as Google, Facebook, Udemy etc came into being here in San Francisco.
I didn’t sleep well during my flight, so wanted to go to my hotel as soon as possible. I first thought to find Bus or Train from the airport to my hotel which was located in Downtown San Francisco, but since I was feeling very tired, and I had luggage as well, so I traveled to my hotel in a Taxi. The Taxi cost me $50 dollars from Airport to Hotel, it was almost 30 to 40 minutes drive from Airport to hotel. I easily checked in to my hotel (Aida Hotel on Market Street in San Francisco) and without wasting time, went to bed.
I woke up at 9pm at night, I logged into my Facebook account, one friend had messaged me who lives in San Francisco, he wanted to meet me. We decided to meet at 11:00pm, my friend brought me some Pakistani home made food for which I thanked him because that taste was awesome. We met and walked at night, it was very cold even in June, I didn’t expect this kind of weather as I had left a hotter Karachi.
The next day in the morning, I went out to explore some parts of San Francisco, and I wanted to use my selfie stick which I purchased for $10 in Karachi. I walked on the streets of San Francisco, and took help of Google map to reach Union Square which was few miles away from my hotel, I took some pictures and came back to prepare myself for attending Udemy welcome reception
Udemy Live Conference
On 24 June at 5pm, we all participants of the Udemy Live Conference were given a warm welcome reception at Udemy Headquarters which is located on the same Market street a few miles away from my hotel. Udemy stuff greeted us, guided us for next day conference, I met fellow instructors and engaged with them. I was really excited to meet all the online people in person and there was arrangements for Delicious foods as well by Udemy.
The next two days (25-26 June), I attended Udemy Live Conference in the Luxury Palace Hotel in San Francisco, I attended many sessions of my interest, met with fellow instructors from around the world and also met Udemy founder and CEO. At Udemy live, breakfast, lunch and dinner were served. To be honest, in the first 3 days of my stay in San Francisco, I didn’t spend too much money except the SIM CARD I purchased for $72 dollars having Local calls, text and internet package and the taxi fare from Airport to Hotel (Hotel expenses will be explained later in the accommodation part of this article). The Luxury Palace Hotel is one of the famous 4 stars hotels (May be 5 stars) in the heart of San Francisco.
Bye Bye San Francisco & Welcome San Jose
On 26 June after attending the Udemy conference, I came out of the hotel, and saw the LGBT Pride Parade on Market Street in San Francisco, and I first time came to know that LGBT = Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgenders has a very large community in the United States of America. After waiting for almost 30 minutes, I hired a taxi from San Francisco to Mountain View and it became a nightmare for me, as the Taxi cost me $150 for a 40 minutes drive to Mountain View and Palo Alto. Hotel I booked in Palo Alto also cost $150, and it all was just for the sake of visiting Google Headquarters in Mountain View as well Facebook headquarters.
Anyways, the next day (27 June), I went to San Jose city station to catch my bus to Los Angeles, the bus ticket I booked online only for $33 bucks from San Jose to Los Angles (8 hours journey by road within California). The taxi from Palo Alto to San Jose again cost me $80 (One more nightmare :-P).
The bus journey from San Jose to Los Angeles was one of the best experiences I ever had. The bus driver was an amazing person who alone took care of everything, he guided passengers, did commentary on the way, and drove the bus. And he also provided useful instructions along the way. The bus seating was very comfortable, one could easily sleep in that, WiFi was fast and great. Air Conditioning was on all the way. And last but not the least, it had plug-in for charging laptops and mobiles. And yeah, it had toilet as well which I saw for the first time in my life, I mean toilet in a bus 😀 You can find that bus online by searching on Google “Greyhound Bus”.
The Beautiful Los Angeles
I arrived in Los Angeles at night probably 10PM, came outside the station and took a Taxi to my hotel which was located in the Down Town of Los Angeles. The taxi cost $20 here, because the station was not very far from the hotel. But hotel cost me $140 for two nights, it was not a hotel but a motel, and it had very basic services, even WiFi was not working properly.
Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the US after New York, and it’s the most famous city in the world because of the famous Hollywood, the fashion, the colorful life and everything what you name it. I really liked and explored the city of Los Angeles even within very short time. My 2 days stay in Los Angeles cost me around $200 dollars including the hotel room, city tour I took ($40) and a ride in the local train (great train service in LA). And yeah, how can I forget my friend “Huzaifa Ali” who meet me in Los Angeles, he served me Karahi which is a famous Dish in Pakistan/India/Afghanistan.
I met Huzaifa for the third time, and the amazing fact about our friendship is that we first met in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in 2014, our second meeting was in Karachi Pakistan in 2015, and our third meeting was in Los Angeles exactly after one year in 2016. How cool :).
Note: this is the first part of my US tou, you should come back to see the last part of this complete story. In the first part, I’ve covered San Francisco to Los Angeles. And in the last part, Washingon DC, Virginia and New York will be covered. Also remember, that videos are not yet uploaded to YouTube, so as soon as I upload the videos, that will also be attached with this post and with the next one.
Summary and Expenses
In the first part of my US tour, I visited San Francisco to attend Udemy conference, and then I visited San Jose, Palo Alto and Mountain View to visit Google’s Headquarters. My last station in California was Los Angeles. In the next part, you’ll see each activity of New York, Washington DC And Virginia.
Expenses so far:
- US Visa Fee: $160 Dollars
- Return Ticket: $980 Dollars (Emirates Airline)
- Udemy Live Conference Ticket: $150
- Hotel Cost so far: $620 Dollars (6 Nights)
- Taxi & other transportation: $400
- Food & Tourism & Sim Card: $150
Total: $2450 Dollars
But you must wait for the next post (Part 2) of this tour in order to get complete A to Z expenses idea from my personal experience. I actually want to tell you each and everything about this tour, so that you can have knowledge/information before going to the United States of America.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience to visit USA, I was amazed to see the rules, fashion, people, places, history, infrastructure and so many other things that I can’t cover up in few words. But I’ll try to give as much details as possible in my next post. What I want to say here is just one sentence.
Unless you try, it will not happen.