Gals Time Out… A Quick SF Weekend Blog for Foodies…

I always thought it would be fun to be a travel writer…well I’m not. But here’s a memorable experience during my single days riveted around food that still makes me smile. Perhaps you can save up and enjoy a fun weekend too, or even an evening or day trip and use a couple ideas for food. Foodies of the world never get bored traveling,eh?

“I need a vacation!” my friend declared a number of years ago.
“OK, where do you want to go…and when?” I asked states away.
“San Francisco!” she half-hollered. “Now.” Perfect for me—an hour and a half car drive from home…

Two weeks later I picked her up on a TGIF at the Sacramento airport winging in from Nashville. So far, she had as much fun planning the trip as getting there.
“I googled the nearest route and it’s 113 to Woodland,” she directed me right out the airport exit as I headed my routine left.
“I know how to get to San Francisco.” I wryly stated native born to the Bay Area.
She insisted this was quicker…reluctant, I gave in. “Ok, I’ll try something new.”
Sure enough we hit Woodland and exited at Main Street connecting us with 113 to Davis and shooting out to 80.
We saved time- impressive.
“We have to stop at La Bou! I dream about their almond croissants every time I know I’m coming.” After a quick call, my crestfallen passenger lamented, “There’s no La Bou’s outside of Sacramento in this area.”  Seconds later she popped another request.
“I want to go to In and Out Burger! I’ve never seen them anywhere outside of California.”  Interesting this is my Dad’s favorite “healthy’ fast food

“Wow, really?!” I learned another reason why I love California.

A few new reasons, surfaced beginning with our dinner at The Slanted Door located on Ferry One. It faces the lights of Treasure Island across the Bay offering a spectacular view of the Bay Bridge which grew more beautiful around 5pm, when the sky darkened into the black of night. The lights of the bridge flashed on resembling a swooping garland of lights suspended across the bay.
The dimly lit candlelight restaurant with the black walls and rich wood tables and floors hinted toward Asian design and corresponding cuisine. Since they serve family style ordering different main dishes means more to experience for all.

The scallops melted like butter. The filet mignon was soft and savory with an awesome sauce. The crunchy sensational jicama salad stole our palate; we were amazed to pull off to such a great start in our weekend of planned progressive meals in the City that crossroads all cultures and chefs into one dining dynasty.

We were surprised and delighted. The sauces were out of this world. Awesome sauce.
The pink bulb curled in our tea actually flowered as we waited for the hot water to cool. It was delightful to drink from our fragrant glass—like sipping a garden.

Following dinner our eyes feasted on grace and agility produced by the San Francisco Ballet Company, topped by the rhythmic rhapsody and engaging choreography of Divertimento no 15, truly a beautiful thing.

Saturday morning we bubbled with excitement decking out in our finest clothes for the weekend…at midday. Rumor had it this was a gala affair; it was dress up time. Eagerly we caught our cab and spun our gossamer dreams down to the lower floor of the Ritz. A couple rich paintings that resembled those decorating the walls of museums in Europe begged our attention. Otherwise the room we bequeathed did little to stir our imagination.

The $32 course of the Chef’s best further failed to deliver the dining wonderland we’d anticipated. Other than the sorbet cream desert, from the olive bread to the tasteless salad and the lackluster pumpkin sauce over ahi, we each left the Ritz much like Cinderella fled the ball, losing a slipper and as quickly as we could.

But that night a divine mistake led to a dinner spot as Delfina’s which was next door to Delfina’s Pizzeria (the intended). We encountered an unexpected surprise. I’ve never watched anyone mince garlic with a huge knife so quick and effortless…as their designated human garlic chopper.

Delfina’s delivered. First, the bread was “the best bread I’ve ever had in my whole life.” “Where did it come from?” The bakery on the corner makes it fresh everyday… it’s called the Country Loaf,” our waitress gladly imbibed. We just looked at each other wide-eyed as happy hungry monkeys swinging into a banana plantation. The half carafe’ of fruity banana pineapple and and Gavi di Gavi Villa Sparina 2005 Piemonte created a hearty toast of triumph. Once again we were on a good track…

Tips:

Check for specials. Amazingly, the rates for a hotel in SF can be cheap on the weekends. Our Marriott for 2 queen beds $87. Same with a Hyatt special once for 2 doubles $87.

It’s often cheaper to use hotel parking for $25- $35 for 24 hours… take taxi, bart and walk.

Cabs start at $3.50 in the city ½ mile. (beats looking for parking space and $$ if weekend)
Bring an envelope of dollar bills and fives for the taxi’s, buses and tips,
If you choose Uber download the app and set up your charge card on the smart phone ahead of time.
Travelocity for restaurant reviews.
Trivago works for comparing hotel prices.
Priceline for last minute specials, Hotel Tonight and vrbo.com provide options.

 

Retirement Savings vs Dreams and Youth

                                  

I have mixed feelings listening to financial advisers to young people.

If you want to travel you must make a choice.” At 15 I loved listening to my friend’s mom whose adventures entertained two freckle-faced teenagers.“You either save and use the money to travel or you spend it on your back, clothes and shoes.”

That challenge ignited a dream. I wanted to travel more than a bee wants honey. My first paycheck after college,.I began to save for a trip to Europe. Each meal I didn’t eat out became a meal overseas. Vacation savings grew. My goal allowed one treat to Macdonald’s—once a month.

Stoking my ambition were the patients with dashed retirement dreams who would look up at the young spindly nurse from their beds. “Don’t put off today what you think you want to do tomorrow. You never know what your health will be like when you retire. “Make sure you live your life so you don’t have regrets looking back.” How grateful I am to those people for their perspective and bed of suffering to speak into my youth.

I trekked a backpack trip to Europe that remains a wonderful memory and included seeing relatives who passed soon after.

Saving for retirement and traveling when I could was not always the most prudent thing. Once upon returning to further education I had time but no money. Five weeks of travel in Israel, Greece, Egypt and Rome on plastic took two years to pay off. A poor financial move, but I was young. Egypt was safe at the time. I gladly made the payments later.

True if I had saved more intensely those early years, it would have multiplied for these later years. But there’s a balance in everything.  And now with health limits myself, those travel experience  prove irreplaceable. Those were my International study, poly sci and sociology classes wrapped up in one. I discovered God was as close to me 2000 miles away as at home and the community of believers are all over the world.

By the mid thirties those carefree years were over. Responsibilty ruled and prudence. Time to settle down and save for retirement. A season of life had passed and I knew it.

The advice of my girlfriends mother rang true. Clothes can eat our money. A house or condo can too. It is easy to be a material girl in a material world…but it can rob us. Who can tell if we wear clothes from consignment shops, or garage sales? Or that our furniture is a mixture of new and used?

If we are enjoying the fruits of our labor, God has given us enough to share. Scripture says, “those who gathered more had nothing over and those who gathered little had no lack.” There’s probably enough that we can choose to not add another dress or lamp or book and support a child in another country who has nothing. No shoes. No schoolbooks. Not enough food.

If we have change, a car and food in the refrigerator we are the top 2% of the world.

So let us enjoy what we have been given financially and pursue our dreams with choice and with cost. Hopefully in our financial planning we will include benefitting others to pursue their dreams too, so we may all live together grateful to God for the opportunities he has given us.

“Young man, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do. Take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do…don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator…”  Ecclesiastes 11:9 , 12:1