Archives for posts with tag: travel

The weekends I love living in SF the most are the laziest ones. Other busy weekends, when you can’t find a parking spot / wait 45 minutes for a donut / get ignored by a salesperson / attempt to look hip at a party you’re way to old at (heard it from a friend) / navigate the treachery that is the maze into Oakland, the “charms” of San Francisco are lost on me. One look at my monthly rent, and I wonder why I haven’t split for the ‘burbs or East Bay yet.

This weekend was without agenda, and as a result showcased everything wonderful about living in this city, including a concert, a culinary adventure, and a lazy sunday with a climb. Also was tranquil, and calm, and lovely. Until I got stuck behind a Segway Tour.

Fun fact: every time I see a Segway Tour here in SF, I nearly scream at them. Perched on their awkward chariots, the grampa-helmet-wearing participant peer down on us makeup-free masses with amusement. Avec bright neon reflective vests and steely visages, these groups invade the various side streets with cocky swagger cum sheer boredom. They point, as if we could not possibly see them pointing, as they are on segways. Look, Mom, a hipster who probably had one too many cocktails at Romolo last night, as this gaggle of not-so-street-legal motorized contraptions block an entire lane of traffic on Stockton with, hemled by tourists without their sea legs stretching to take a picture of Coit Tower with iPads.

Now before you scream at me for being a tourist snob, I’m going to metaphorically stop you right there. Let me get this straight: I love tourists, of all shapes and sizes, and I hate the tourist vs. traveler debate. One of my favorite parts of living in North Beach is being approached by anyone who needs a tip, or directions. I proudly point them on their way, suggest a good watering hole and provide a smiling face. I know that that interaction could make their day, or at least make them feel slightly more comfortable in a strange place. I take hosting VERY seriously, as a Calgarian who firmly believes in the white hat, and it is an absolute pleasure to help a stranger get to know the city that I love.

The damn Segways, on the other hand, completely remove said traveler from their surroundings. Ta-nehisi Coates posits an “asshole rule” in the Atlantic: a person who demands that all social interaction happen on their terms. Since a segway is not a car, nor a bicycle, nor a form of walking, a group of them occupies a vehicular role and takes up an entire lane, while each individual rider demands the freedom and slow speed of walking. As a result, these groups are not walking tours, nor bus tours (both forms of tourism I am perfectly OK with) and instead slowly creep around North Beach, causing congestion and general grumpiness in me (and remember, it’s all about me).

If only that group could disembark, partake in one of San Francisco’s excellent City Guides walking tours with the hills beneath their feet (feel the burn!). Heck, I would even be, for some ungodly reason, more OK with Riding the Ducks, a semiaquatic, hopped-up bus tour that  heeds both nautical and vehicular parameters (also, have you SEEN them jammin’ on that tour? I’m this close to taking it myself fo funzies. Also, kazoos.)

I don’t like to judge other folks’ travel preferences, really I don’t. But when I get stuck behind one of these tours, or get cut off by them when I’m in a cross walk near Washington Square Park, it takes every ounce of my being to not scream “DID YOU KNOW THAT SAN FRANCISCO IS THE MOST WALKABLE CITY IN THE WORLD?”. I want to shake them, make them look around, take them for a beer and show them the best places to explore.

But then I snap out of it, and continue on my Saturday.

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I’m going to go out on a limb and posit something rather controversial (stay with me now) – weekend getaways are the absolute best, and it’s important to go on them as often as you can, and Napa is Disneyland for grown-ups (I warned you you’d be shocked – shocked!)

It’s a pretty common topic amongst travel writers (and SEOers) – 3 days at, 24 hours in, where to go in Napa when you only have half a tank of gas and a prayer, that sort of thing. We realized it was our anniversary late in the week (and by we, I mean me – Ben had already started planning this all), and Ben was able to secure one night at the Cottages at Napa Valley (quite possibly the most underrated and excellent accommodation in Wine Country, hands down). We woke up Saturday morning, hastily packed a bag – I still think I’m 0 for a million for remembering toothpaste – strapped the bikes on the back of the car and drove over the newly-staff-free Golden Gate Bridge towards my own personal heaven, racing the threatening rain to ensure we’d get a ride in before dinner.

So it has to be said – what the crap can anyone, at all, say about Napa that hasn’t already been written? I know it’s a writing cliche to write about writing cliches, BUT COME ON. Everything was magical. It smelled amazing, the scent of eucalyptus wind blocks on the vineyards intermingling with the heavy humidity and bustling kitchens of Yountville. Our forty-miler up 29, cutting across at Calistoga and down the Silverado Trail, was the kind of “thing to do” that whole entire guidebooks are dedicated to: flat, speedy, and absa-freaking-lutely amazing. The weather held up until the bitter end, with hot sun and scattered cloud giving way to a warm and welcomed shower and rainbow (I MAY have heard someone shout “what does it mean“, like for reals.)

I mean, how can anyone ever say anything original about how freaking awesome your bed and breakfast was? About how the second we checked in, muddy and sweaty from the last 30 minutes of the ride, resembling starving hipster drowned rats in local beer jerseys, the fabulous staff at the Cottages welcomes us with hot towels and a bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc? About how I may have drained out the entirety of Hetch Hetchy having bath after wonderful, nearly-scalding bath in our obscenely large tub, regaining the sanity and strength left un-tapped after 4 years of a bathless abode? About how ever single detail in the cottage was mindful, how the robes were perferctly comfy and warm, how the cheerful staff drove us to dinner and politely laughed at the amateur-hour banter emanating from our seat (thank you, don’t forget to tip your waitress.)

I MEAN COME ON, who the eff wants to read about how the clerk at the wine store in V Marketplace was able to find us a great cigar and bottle of bubbles for $20 to take home? About how we naturally found ourselves at the bar at our favorite Yountville standard Bistro Jeanty, sipping Lillet cocktails evoking our time in France while people-watching locals? How our amazing B+B picked us up and drove us back, so we could sit on our comically oversized bed and catch up on Game of Thrones? SERIOUSLY. Who wants to read that when you can just curse at someone’s oversharing Foursquare feed (“OMG THIS PLACE IS AMAAAAAAZING”) and feel superior to unnecessarily-filtered travel snapshots on Instagram? 

Why? BECAUSE WE NEEDED TO and we had an amazing time and so I’m writing about it. Because sometimes you spend a little bit of extra money to play tourist in one of the most popular destinations in California. Because it meant something to cruise down the valley on a speedy bike, stopping in fancy tasting rooms along the way and tracking in hard-earned mud. Because it’s important to invest the time to get away, turn off your work email, and enjoy traditionally enjoyable places (there’s a reason they’re super popular.) Not because you’re first, not because you’re seeing what someone else told you to, not because it gives your some kind of moral-superiority about doing something “no one else” does. Because YOU like it, because it takes you away, and because it makes you happy. Because that’s what travel freaking does.

Oh, and we found the absolutely most fabulous roadside beer bar ever in the history of the world on a detour, but that’s for another seo-friendly “off-the-beaten-path” post.

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