Thursday, May 19, 2011

San Francisco Trip - Part 2

This one shouldn't be as long as yesterday's post, but I will load it up with more photos then the last one....

Saturday morning we were up early and met up with Alex and Dr. Lim for breakfast, and then off to Napa Valley for a day of wine tasting. The day before I had dropped the three of them off from the rental car at the hotel and headed out to gas up the car, but what they didn't know is that I had returned the rental and Tina had rented a limo to drive us around for the day. When they came back down after breakfast and we were standing outside by the limo their look of confusion and surprise was better then we could have hoped for.
We left earlier then originally planned so that we could first swing by the Golden Gate bridge and get some photos, since they weren't sure when they would get a chance in the final two days of their trip.
Once done with that we headed up to the wonderful wineries of Napa Valley, stopping first at Robert Craig to start the day with a tasting.
From there a quick stop at a supermarket so that we could pick up food for a picnic which we enjoyed with a bottle from the Clos Du Val winery.
After lunch we went over to Rubicon Estate, the Niebaum-Coppola winery for a tasting and a tour of the Chateau, some of the property, the wine caves, and the history of how Coppola found himself in the wine business.
That's a long day of enjoying a limo, good picnic food, and some outstanding wines...
So we headed back via the Bay Bridge with a stop to get some nice photos of San Francisco, finally returning to the hotel after a quick stop at the top of Lombard Street.
A few minutes to get freshened up in the hotel and we were off to dinner at Spruce. Spruce had come recommended, and with quite a wait list for reservations, and it did not disappoint. Easily one of the best meals that Tina and I have had in years, and we had the impression that our guests enjoyed it too...

And then that was it, our quick two day trip was over. We got up early the next morning so that we could catch a flight back to Chicago, and Alex and Dr. Lim had a final day, which they finally managed to get some shopping done, before heading back to Malaysia.

They came down in the morning to see us off, and presented us with a travel lunchbox of morning snacks and coffee that we had the fun of figuring out how to finish during a 10 minute ride to the airport.

It was a perfect weekend, and really great to see them again, and as a final bonus they did promise that one of their next international trips they would make it all they way over to Chicago to visit us...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Before our next trip, we tell you about our last one..

Ok, so we are leaving for holiday this Friday to spend a week off enjoying the fun of this world, and I'm thinking that following that we will go back into some sort of regular posting. Only time will tell...

So with that bit out of the way - on with a long post of what we did just about three weeks ago. As most of you who have been following our blog may already know - while we were in China we became close friends with a family out of Malaysia. We met two sisters of the family in Xiamen and then the rest of the family down in Ipoh on the first of what would turn out to be several trips down to Malaysia to visit them.

We stopped back down to Ipoh over Thanksgiving last year during our short 10 day 5 country trip. While we were there we learned that Alex and his friend Dr. Lim would be traveling over to the United States this year for their vacation, and we knew that we owed them a first hand view of the States for all of the accommodation and touring that they had previously planned on our many trips to Ipoh. Sadly, when we discussed their trip with them they would not have time to make it out to Chicago so that we could give them our version of a local red carpet tour...

Well that seemed sad to us, and there was no way that we weren't going to meet up with them. Therefore on the last Thursday in April we took a late night flight on Thursday out to San Francisco so we could meet them on the tail end of their holiday, and hopefully show them a little of California that they would not have planned to see if they were on tour by themselves.

First thing Friday morning I left the hotel and rented a car, and as soon as they finished breakfast we met up with our friends and started their tour.
The weather turned out perfectly, without a cloud in the sky and a temperature a comfortable 20oC. As we got caught up on the LA, Las Vegas, and Grand Canyon section of their trip we drove over to the ocean for a nice coastal drive down the 1 highway. We along enjoying the scenery and making a stop along the way to enjoy the cliffs and one of California's old lighthouse's before finally pulling into the quaint storybook town of Carmel-by-the-sea.
We enjoyed a great lunch at a small little restaurant in the center of town and then wandered about for a while taking in the beach and perusing the many knick-knack stores that make up the town.

From there we drove a few more miles south of town before turning around and heading back to San Francisco so we could head out to dinner. They had flown in to San Francisco a few days before us and had already toured the main touristy sites, which allowed us to pick some restaurants that they normally wouldn't have gone to. Friday night we had booked a reservation at a nice seafood restaurant, only to have them inform us in the car that they had been having seafood the last several nights and that they were kind of finished with it….

Oh well, that's too bad for them since a few hours aren't enough time to change reservations to another restaurant in the city, and off we went to Farallon for dinner. Turns out that they were just eating average seafood and that's what they were tired of eating, since everyone devoured the scallops, oysters, lobster, and everything else we ordered. Tina did most of the ordering of the food, and in a return to the Chinese style of dining, we had them bring us out small plates so that we could each share a portion of the meals that we ordered. It worked out perfectly, other then the point where Dr. Lim excused himself to the bathroom and decided to take it upon himself to pay the bill…

Seeing as we found that unacceptable we ignored their pleas to head back to the hotel after the long day and instead we went over to a small jazz bistro to enjoy a few drinks and some enjoyable conservation before calling it a night and finally heading back to the hotel and to bed.

The second day of our quick weekend tomorrow, or when I get around to writing about it.

The plan is to have it finished before we leave on Friday, but I do also know that I've a lot that needs to be packed up tomorrow night, so I will not be making any promises...