Friday, June 6, 2008

Four Days in San Francisco - Part I

On a cool spring morning, just as the sun broke out in the eastern sky, five people and four bags piled themselves in to a large taxi and hurried away to catch a plane. To San Francisco. Chip, his parents and his grandparents. A red backpack, one large bag – the kind you would take for a 2 week trip to India (don’t ask, it was filled with diapers I had no intention of putting on Chip’s butt) and two small strolleys, one of which Chip called the dibs on right away and hauled it to the ticketing counter. Any one would think here was a happy family spending a week or a better part of ten days away vacationing. But no. This happy family was spending a mere 4 days – whole 4 days because of the time difference in what I think is one of the most charming cities ever – San Francisco. Or Frisco. Some one told me, I think it was my father, that San Francisco natives did not like people calling their city Frisco. If anybody can confirm this, please do so.

Six and a half hours, and one mad dash of a connection later we reached Point B. Rental car picked up, the family once more piled themselves in it and drove away. It was only 11:00 am. We were a bit tired but excited. We could not check in until 2:00 pm, so we had a good four hours to kill until then. I turned to my vacation excel sheet. In my uber planning mode I had completely forgotten that we would reach 4 hours before the check in time. My sheet said that we were to check in, eat and go to Fisherman’s Wharf. But with time to kill, we decided to drive around, eat, check-in, nap and then go to Fisherman’s Wharf.

From the list of eateries, DDMom had given me and from some more places I had looked up on tripadvisor, we decided to go to in the Haight-Ashbury district, hoping to also see some hippies colorful people with alternate lifestyles, along with some good desi food. The food was good, the owner over bearing. In the middle of the meal I wished there was some way of telling the owner to just let us eat in peace. We ate and drove to the hotel and napped. By that I mean BigGeek napped, the mother-in-law and father-in-law caught a couple of winks on a cramped sofa, while I suffered Chip. He refused to sleep and in one tired, exasperated moment when I threaten to give him a pop on his behind, he calmly told me, “Aie, I am going to go sleep next to Baba. He has more patience.” And off he went. An hour later, our senses somewhat restored we stepped outside on chilly, breezy afternoon headed towards Fisherman’s Wharf.


This was our second trip to San Francisco. The last time we were able to see the piers of the Golden Gate the first day we saw it. I never knew what a big of a deal that was until my cousin explained to me that he had visited the city a dozen times to find the bridge shrouded by a dense fog. We were lucky this time too. The sky was cloudless and as we walked towards the Fisherman’s wharf, we could see a giant red bridge looming up on the horizon. We went to a small pier to see if we could ride a boat to get nicer views of the bay, the bridge and the Alcatraz. We were lucky here too. It was almost 6:30 pm and the boats were running their last trip of the day. We hurriedly paid and found seats and a minute later, we set sail.


Mark Twain once said that the coldest winter in America was summer in San Francisco. As the little boat sped on the bay, a cold breeze swept our hair up and chilled our noses. Chip, who was wearing a fleece but no wind breaker refused a blanket, pulling it off vehemently every time I tried to cover him in it. But the cold was more than worth the views. The bay, lined with multimillion dollar houses, the Alcatraz on the other side and the most beautiful of it all- the Golden Gate.

When we debarked, we decided to get an ice cream. We walked towards the very crowded Ghirardelli Square and managed to order ice creams and find places for all of us to eat them. BigGeek and me shared a banana split, Chip dug into his vanilla scoop topped with fresh strawberries, father-in-law ate a dark chocolate mint and the mother-in-law enjoyed a bowl of chocolate chip.

The next day we decided to drive to Sonoma. DDMom had told me Napa would be crowded and Sonoma was a better bet. As we headed north across the Golden Gate, the busy streets of the city gave way to gentle plains dotted with vineyards and orchards. Looking at them only added to our excitement. Our first stop was Ravenswood – their zinfandels are a family favorite. Chip was blissfully asleep and I was not about to wake him up, so BigGeek and the in-laws went for a wine tasting. 40 mins later, they returned disappointed. It was too crowded. And chatotic. So much for tasting the nice zins. Our next stop was Sebastiani. Chip was still asleep and I voted to stay back with him while others went. This time everybody was happy. The wines were good and they even bought a bottle to enjoy later with dinner. One thing about the wine business or rather the tasting business is the amount of snobbery that goes around. One vineyard that we stopped at (we had a guide with us and picked this winery just because) was most unfriendly. After BigGeek, my father in law and I waited for about 10 minutes, some one came and asked us if we had reservations. I said no. The ad did not mention that reservations were required, but I did not tell him that. We needed reservations and they only did food and wine pairings. A point they had again missed while putting in their ad in the guide. There was a party of about 10-12 people sitting on a large table in the tasting room. The harried sommelier went back to them and poured wines hurriedly. The people were tense, a bit afraid that in their simplicity, they would fail to appreciate the wine and the food and both.

On the way back from Sonoma, we stopped at Muir Woods to marvel the magnificence of giant costal redwoods. Some over a thousand years old. Wonder how they must feel to stand in one place for so long. Chip enjoyed the trip thoroughly, running to and fro on the tracks not really awed by the trees but by the odd squirrel or the deer he spotted.

Continued...

18 comments:

Mona said...

i think these are the first ever pics of Chip you've put up. he's cute.
sounds like a fun trip. i'm still drooling over the ghirardelli.
:/

Something to Say said...

ah nice!!! luved reading your account .

I love Lucy said...

It felt like deja vu...our SFO trip with my parents was almost similar to yours except for the wine tasting part.
And Chip is soooo cute!!!

Shobana said...

Why did you hide this cute child from us all along Dotmom? Anyhoo, it sounds like a good trip so far.

Poppins said...

Ah nostalgia. Lived there for 5 years and loved it!

Daisy said...

you came here and dint call for a blog meet???????????????????
hmph!

DotThoughts said...

mona: first pics in a looong time :) I barely get time to sit with the comp to download pics and upload them.. text is faster. An I try to paint pictures with my words.. guess a picture is more than a thousand words :)

sts: stay tuned for part 2!!

i love lucy: i think all pateling trip go down the same alley (or state routes as may be the case:) )

shobana: I am lazy with uploading pics!!! Evenings are crazy, weekends crazier. Takes me for ever to the pic thing.

poppins: then stay tuned for part 2. you will like how it ends!

daisy: was patelling yaar. so crunched. But I am coming there, hopefully sometime soon..just need an excuse anyway

K 3 said...

Aww, sometimes it takes visitors to give us a new perceptive! :) The little fells looks so handsome, great genes I presume! ;)

BTW, next time you are here, better have a blog meet, otherwise Katti, katti katti!

DotThoughts said...

k3: I know! I love reading about Wash DC and am often surprised by what people notice! and next time, promise, promise, promise!

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

you took us to SFO, like u always do on your narrations :)
Looking for part II

noon said...

Chip is just as I had imagined him to be...very cute...lovely twinkle in his eyes...
Muir woods - just love that place...

Mystic Margarita said...

Chip is so cute and handsome! Wow! You sure had a wonderful trip - waiting for part II.

ddmom said...

Beautiful update. I second K3. Waiting to hear the end, sounds exciting based on your reply to poppin's comment.

Usha said...

The photos show how much he is enjoying the trip.
He looks so angelic - cant believe that he is capable of all those intense moments and tantrums. But kids, don't we all know them!

dipali said...

Lovely post, great to see young Chip at last! Handsome chap:) Eagerly awaiting the next instalment!

The TAAMommy said...

Francisco Danconi of Danconi copper tells that as well.. he doesnt like the beautiful city called that.

P.S. fictional character out of a A.Rand Novel.. got it ?

Daisy said...

ok good.. come here and lets all meet and watch SATC again- wat say?

Preethi said...

There he is the Chipster... cant believe I missed this post.. :)