Last weekend I traveled to California. Yes, you read that right. I spent over 17 hours flying 6,000 miles just to spend 1.5 days in my home state.
Now that you know you read that right, you may be wondering why I did it. No, I wasn’t making a mileage run (it’s too early in the year for that!). I don’t get a thrill from jet lag. And while I do enjoy airline lounges and I was able to use some upgrades to travel business class, there are easier ways to get good Champagne and there are more comfortable beds than the not-so-lie-flat ones on airplanes.
The reason I flew all the way from London to San Francisco just for the weekend was to attend the wedding of a close friend from childhood. Exogenous factors prevented me from being away from the UK for more than two days, but—Brits, brace yourselves for my earnest inner-American—she has been such a good friend that I wouldn’t have let anything in the world make me miss her wedding.
The fact that she had impeccable taste in both venue and style made it even more exciting to share in her big day. In classic California fashion, hers was a Sonoma wine country wedding, complete with a stunning backdrop of verdant vineyards and high, dry hills.
I arrived in Sonoma a bit early to do some wine tasting before the wedding. My mother and I stopped at nearby winery called B.R. Cohn to sample their selection (incidentally, I later found out that another friend had had a wine country wedding of her own there a couple of years ago). The 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was a winner, and we bought a bottle before driving down the road to the wedding at the St. Francis Winery in Sonoma.
Anyone that has been to a summertime wine country wedding in California knows that the weather can be hot. Swelteringly so. Which is why my friend was so smart to start her ceremony at 6pm. The weather was perfectly pleasant by that hour, and as she walked down the aisle with the vines in the background, I couldn’t help but think that she had planned the perfect wedding.
Throughout the evening, I caught up with old friends, made new ones, and marveled at how beautiful a bride my friend was. After it was over, I succumbed to jet lag while my mother drove us back to my apartment in San Francisco.
Speaking of which, despite my short time in California, I managed to see a bit of the city while I was home. Jet lag didn’t just make me sleep at odd hours; it also made me wake up at 4am every day. Rather than see that as a bad thing, I took advantage of my early rising and spent my mornings on the roof deck of my building watching the Golden Gate Bridge and the Palace of Fine Arts in the first light of dawn.
When the rest of the world woke up, I walked along the beach at Crissy Field, ran errands on Chestnut and Union Streets in the Marina and Cow Hollow, and did some mandatory shopping for things I can’t get—or rather, never bothered to learn how to find—in London.
The fact that the weather was ridiculously warm didn’t hurt, either. For those that have never been to San Francisco in the summer, believe me when I say that the climate is usually more dismal than it is in the UK. Seriously. There’s a reason someone once said that the coldest winter they ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.
When I wasn’t running around my neighborhood basking in the rare summer sun, I was partaking in my favorite San Francisco pastime: eating.
I had my ahi poke wasabi bowl from Pacific Catch on Chestnut Street, my beloved California Pinot Noir from Nectar on Steiner Street, my Blue Bottle Coffee latte from Blue Fog Market on Green Street, my Mighty Leaf tea from La Boulange on Union Street, and my huevos rancheros from Balboa Cafe on Fillmore Street. I even indulged in a dark chocolate fleur de sel treat from Kara’s Cupcakes on Scott Street.
When my weekend in California was over, my mother drove me to the airport and I waved good-bye to both her and the city. It was tough to leave my home state after such a short time, but jet lag is worth it for friends, family, and—I’m not afraid to say it—saturated fat and good tannins. It has to be. I’m doing it again next month for a weekend wedding in San Diego.