By Marguerite Richards
You don’t have to be home for the holidays to feel the love this time of year. As anyone who’s ever spent Thanksgiving on the road, Christmas with strangers, or New Year’s Eve in a foreign land can attest, it’s often the people you’re with who make the season bright. And when you spend a holiday in a hostel, you may just find yourself forming a spontaneous family with whoever’s around, celebrating and laughing with new friends you’ve never met.
At HI USA, we firmly believe that travel has the power to transform. Meeting new friends from other cultures, participating in the customs of an unfamiliar country or city, and integrating ourselves into the local community are irreplaceable experiences, and ones that help us to better understand the world around us. And the most rewarding travel experiences of all are those that allow us to affect the communities we visit just as positively as they do us.
We've all heard that there's no place like home for the holidays. But at HI USA, we believe there's a hidden meaning behind the old adage: sometimes, spending the holidays far from your comfort zone can be a great thing! Just ask any traveler who's ever shared a holiday meal with a group of new friends, or anyone who's unwittingly arrived in a foreign country at the start of an exotic holiday season.
A caffeine fix, a break from the go-go-go lifestyle of backpacking, a ringside look at the local culture – there are so many reasons we love stopping into neighborhood cafés wherever our travels take us. And here in Northern California, there are endless ways to make a run-of-the-mill refueling stop into a one-of-a-kind experience: from no-frills cups of Joe at corner mainstays, to sweet concoctions in exotic neighborhoods, to artful pours of espresso at high-class hideaways, here a few of our favorites spots for coffee and culture.
Ever hear the old saying that life's about the journey, not a destination? Out here in Northern California, we tend to take it a step further: Here, sometimes the journey is the destination. Transit time in our lovely region isn't just a way of getting from Point A to Point B – it's an eye-opener in and of itself. Just ask anyone who's ever taken a bicycle tour, big or small, around our neck of the woods!