We typically make a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area each year to visit with friends and drink lots of wine. The last time we were there was in the Fall of 2019. Then COVID hit and we obviously weren’t able to make our annual journey for a couple of years.
Usually our trips to San Francisco were just 3 or 4 days. To make up for missing out on the past couple of years, this time we were there for 10 days. This extra time gave us the opportunity to visit with our friends in Sacramento, along with spending time with our Tiburon friends.
You can check out some pictures of our trip HERE in my web album. And I’ve done a summary of our trip below – which I will be updating as we go.
Day 1 – Early Morning Flight to San Francisco
We were flying on a non-stop flight to San Francisco from Edmonton, leaving at 7:00am. Air Canada had re-started this non-stop flight only a couple of days before we left. We had purchased business class tickets as it was only about $700CAD each when we booked it. I had previously reviewed this same flight to San Francisco in 2018, but since this was a morning flight this time, I’ll comment on the breakfast service.
We arrived at the airport at 5:30am. We stopped by the Air Canada concierge office to say hi to Colleen. She confirmed our documents and negative COVID test results and gave us a bag of ketchup chips to pass along to Yuki – the concierge in San Francisco (who loves ketchup chips).
We then continued to security, and then U.S. customs to our departure gate. Before we even got into the security area, Randy was pulled aside for a random secondary search. I continued on into security. I guess the went through all of Randy’s things, and even made him take his iPad out of its case. The Pre-Chek line wasn’t open (probably because there was only one flight the U.S. departures area at this time). Only one lane was open, but when I went through there was only one person ahead of me.
I went through security with no problem, but had to wait for Randy. When he went through, one of his bags was pulled aside to swab his contacts solution container (even though it had already been checked/swabbed in the original secondary search). He was not impressed.
We continued on through U.S. security. Again, the Nexus line wasn’t open, but there was no line-up at all, and about 6 customs agent sitting there waiting. Our agent asked us a couple of questions and we were through in about a minute.
Once a the gates, we went to Starbucks to get some breakfast. There was only one guy working there, so he had to take the orders and make the drinks. He was fairly quick, so it didn’t take too long. We had our breakfast, and then it was time to board the plane.
Once in the air, the flight attendant came around with a bag of almonds and drinks. I ordered a coke as I hadn’t had much sleep (when I have an early morning flight, I always wake up a lot, because I’m worried I’ll oversleep). A while later, they came around with breakfast. There were the following options:
I’m not a big fan of pancakes, so I went with Air Canada’s standard breakfast meal of the omelette. The meal came with a fruit salad, however, there wasn’t a yoghurt or croissant.
After breakfast, I sat back and watched the movie “Marry Me” with Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson. It was your typical rom-com. After that, I started watching “The Lost City” with Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum. I wasn’t able to finish the movie before landing, so I’ll catch the rest on the way home. I must say that Channing Tatum does do a dumb jock role very well.
After landing, we headed to the rental car centre, got in our car and headed to Sacramento. Traffic wasn’t too bad, and we arrived at our friend Jenn’s house at about 11:20am.
It had been quite some time since we had really good Mexican food, so the 3 of us went out to Zocala for lunch. It was a beautiful day to sit out on the patio. I ordered the Baja fish tacos, and Randy ordered a burrito. There was a lot of food there – and neither of us could finish off our plates. It was so good!
After lunch, we dropped Jenn off at her house, and then we went to check in at the Residence Inn Downtown. The rooms at this hotel are actually like a little apartment, with a living room/kitchen and a separate bedroom. Since we were both tired from the early morning (and full from lunch), we lay down for a nap. Later, when we woke up, we wandered down the street to Golden Road Brewing. We decided to share a flight of beer to try a few out. We both liked the Mango cart beer, so then we both got a glass of beer of that. It was a beautiful night, so it was nice to just sit and chill and drink beer.
After we got our buzz on at Golden Road, we wandered back to our hotel. We were still quite full from lunch, but felt like having something to eat. So, we went across the street to Cafeteria 15L. We ordered some appetizers to share – truffle tater tots, cheeseburger sliders and crispy brussels sprouts. The food came out amazingly fast (less than 5 minutes). It was very tasty, but there was a lot of food and we couldn’t finish it all.
After that, we went back to the hotel. By this time I was very tired, and went to bed about 8:00pm (and was asleep shortly after).
Day 2 – Happy Birthday to Janet
Woke up at about 6:30am (after going to bed so early). Showered up and walked to a nearby Starbucks for my free birthday drink. On the way back, we stopped at the State Capital Rose Garden to finish our drinks in the sunshine. While we were there, we got a message from Jenn asking if we wanted to meet her and Kevin at Bacon and Butter for breakfast. We were like – Sure! So, we arranged to meet up with them at 8:45am.
This is a very popular restaurant, so we had to wait for about half an hour. But it was a nice morning, so we just sat outside and visited while until our table was ready. For breakfast, I ordered the biscuit, gravy and bacon. Randy got the breakfast burrito. Both were oh so good, but it was a LOT of food. (seems to be a theme of our trip so far). Again, we couldn’t finish our meals. Might have to start sharing an order going forward!
After breakfast, we headed off to Total Wines to peruse the selection of wines. Thought we would check out some wines that we can’t get at home. We picked up a few bottles for the upcoming days and headed back to our hotel. Randy lay down for a nap, while I worked on the journal.
Later on, Randy wanted to check out an art supplies store called Blick (to see if there was anything different than what he could get at home). Then he took me for a drive through East Sacramento, where there were some nice older (and big) houses.
After we got back to the hotel, we decided to go for a walk around the downtown area. When we started walking in the direction of the Rose Garden, we noticed a huge crowd of people. It turned out to be prom night and there were high school kids all dressed up and getting their photos taken in the garden and the rest of the park.
Once back in the room, we got ready for supper and then walked a few blocks to Frog and Slim, where we met up with Jenn and Kevin again. I was still a little full from breakfast, so I ordered the Wagyu Steak Salad. I’m not a blue cheese fan, so the waiter was able to substitute a Caesar dressing for me. Randy ordered the King salmon. Kevin and I shared the deviled eggs as an appetizer (Randy and Jenn don’t like deviled eggs). They were very good. And so were all the rest of the meals. For dessert, we ordered the chocolate truffles for dessert. There were 4 of them, so it was a perfect little bite of chocolate to end the meal.
It was a nice leisurely meal, and after we were done, we said goodbye to Jenn and Kevin and walked back to our hotel. After splitting a bottle of wine with Randy, I was sleepy and went to bed early. All in all, a very nice birthday.
Day 3 – Mother’s Day in Tiburon
We woke up fairly early (6:30am), and just chilled in the room for a bit (I caught up on the journal). Eventually we wandered over to Starbucks for breakfast. Good thing we took our time, because the Starbucks didn’t open until 8:00am (it was about 7:55) when we arrived. We had our drinks and snack (chocolate croissant for me and sausage sandwich for Randy), then walked back to the hotel. We showered and packed up our stuff and hit the road to visit our friends Georgeann and Desmond in Tiburon.
First, we decided to fill the car up with gas. We went to Costco, and it was already a zoo at the gas station. Unfortunately, we picked a line where there were 2 gals that apparently had never filled up a car before. Their gas cap was on the other side of the vehicle from the pump, and they would pull the hose over and put it into the car. I don’t know what was going on (we were 4 cars back), but they would both look at the gas nozzle and then take it back to the pump. Then they would pull it over again and do the same thing. They did this at least 3 or 4 times. I have no idea what the problem was. Finally, they must have figured it out and they got in their car and drove away.
We filled up our tank and finally got on the road. The traffic to Tiburon was quite slow – a lot of stop and go. We got to Tiburon about half an hour later than what Google Maps said it would take.
Once at our friends’ place, we sat around and visited for a bit. Then around 3:00pm, we headed over to our friends Rich and Alice’s place, as they were hosting a Mother’s Day meal. Their place has an amazing view of downtown San Francisco and the San Francisco bay.
The gals sat around having some snacks and champagne, while the guys got the steaks and salmon prepped.
Rich is a master griller and so the steaks and salmon turned out awesome. For dessert, there were macarons, chocolates and strawberries. Since it was my birthday the day before, they brought out a plate for me with a candle stuck in a macaron! So sweet!
Around 9:00pm, we headed back to Georgeann and Desmond’s. We sat around and visited some more (we had 2 years’ worth of stuff to catch up on). At 11:00pm, we were tired, so hit the sack.
Day 4 – Off to Napa
This morning we took our time getting up. The plan today was to head to Napa and do a wine tasting at Domaine Carneros. Georgeann and Desmond had some errands they wanted to run, so we agreed to drive up separately and meet at their place up there. So, once we were showered and packed, we hit the road to Napa.
Before meeting up, we stopped at the Napa Premium Outlet shops to check out if there were any good deals. We went into the Coach store, as I have found good deals on purses here in the past. However, there wasn’t anything that jumped out at me. We also checked out the Lucky Jeans store, but the prices there were pretty much what we would pay at home.
We continued on to Georgeann and Desmond’s house – arriving just a few minutes after them. We snacked on some cherries we had picked up from a roadside stand, and then headed out to our 2:00pm reservation at Domain Carneros.
When we arrived, they were able to seat us in their glassed-in atrium area, which was very pleasant.
For the tasting, Randy got a flight of pinot noir, and I got a flight of sparkling wine. We also got a cheese plate and smoked salmon to go with it. The amount of wine that they provided was actually quite generous compared to other wineries.
After our wine tasting, we headed back to the house and just hung out. Randy lay down for a little nap. For supper, we ordered takeout from Napa Noodles. Randy had the Japanese curry and I had the teriyaki chicken. Both were delicious.
We got into some more wine, and around 9:00pm, I was tired and headed to bed. I’m not sure what time Randy came to bed – because I fell asleep quite quickly.
Day 5 – Frank Family Winery
Had a great sleep and didn’t get up until 8:30am. Had a very relaxing morning – just hanging out with our friends at their house. The weather was overcast, cool and windy. Randy tried to go out for a walk, but it started to rain on him, so he wasn’t gone very long.
We had reservations for a wine tasting at Frank Family Vineyards at 3:00pm. Georgeann had reserved an outdoor tasting, so we bundled up to sit outside (it was only about 10 degrees Celcius). It was about a 40-minute drive to the winery, and we actually drove through some heavy rain and hail on the way there. There was also a lot of thunder and lightning, which apparently is very rare here.
When we arrived, we checked in for our reservation. The reservation was originally for this lovely patio area.
However, since it was cold and rainy, they had moved us to this porch area that had screens pulled down and overhead heaters. It was quite cozy in there. They seated us in a corner with some couches and some hanging chairs. Randy and I took the hanging chairs and they were very comfortable. It was tempting to take a nap in them.
The wine tasting was very nice. The host would come by, pour a wine and give us a little history of each wine. Then he would go away for a while. The tastings were of reserve wines that you could only get at the winery. The tasting included a sparkling wine, a chardonnay, a zinfandel and a cabernet sauvignon. They were all tasty, but my favourite was the chardonnay. I have bought their regular chardonnay at home, and it is really nice, but this one was even better. So, we ended up buying 2 bottles of the reserve chardonnay to bring home. Georgeann and Desmond also bought a few bottles, and the host was nice enough to waive the tasting fees for us (which is not normally the case).
It was after 5:00pm when we finally left the winery (they had turned off the overhead heaters, which was a sign they wanted us to go). On the way back, we stopped by Walmart to pick up some groceries that Georgeann had pre-ordered. So, all we had to do was park in a curbside pickup spot and let them know we were there. Someone came out with the groceries in less than a minute.
For supper we had salad, burgers and chips. The burgers were frozen wagyu burgers from Costco. They were quite delicious – so we’ll have to see if we can find these at home. We had more wine, and by 9:00pm we were tired and went to bed. (all that drinking wears a person out)
Day 6 – Miner Winery and Jam Cellars
Today we woke up to sunny skies and warmer weather. For a late breakfast, Randy and I whipped up some steak and eggs (leftover steak from the Mother’s Day meal). Today we had a 1:00pm reservation at Miner Winery. It was only 3 of us today as Desmond had a luncheon with his Chevron retirees group.
Georgeann and Desmond are club members at the winery, so our tastings were complimentary. They even customize the wine tasting menu for the club member.
Along with the above wines, our server also gave us tastes of a Merlot and the Emily’s Cabernet Sauvignon. The weather was much nicer than the day before, but a person still needed a light jacket to sit outside.
After the tasting, we just went back to the house. Randy and I sat out on the deck for a bit, enjoying the sun. For supper, we had a 5:00pm reservation at Eiko’s Napa. We were there for Happy Hour, so we ordered a bunch of food to share. We were eating outside, so we were all bundled up. They had patio heaters, but every once in a while, a cold wind would blow through.
Once we were done at Eiko’s we then had a 6:30pm reservation at Jam Cellars, which was just a block away from the restauant. We could’ve done a wine tasting, but by this time, we’ve had a lot of wine. So, instead, we each just ordered a glass of wine. Because Georgeann and Desmond have a residence in Napa, we were also given a little snack tray for free as well. Even though I was already quite full, it didn’t stop me from nibbling on the snacks.
Last time I was here in 2019, I really enjoyed their buttery chardonnay. However, this time after having the amazing chardonnay at Frank Family, I wasn’t as enamored with their chardonnay this time.
After we were done at Jam Cellars, we went back to the house. Eating some of the snacks at Jam Cellars had pushed me over the edge of being full, and now my stomach hurt. So, I decided to just go lie down for a bit. I didn’t plan to fall asleep, but at 9:30, I woke up and decided to just slide under the covers and go to sleep for the night. I’m such a party animal!
Day 7 – Picnic at V. Sattui Winery
Woke up to sunny weather again today. Today Desmond was touring around some friends from Cambridge and so it was going to just be the 3 of us again. Desmond was planning to take his friends to V. Sattui Winery for a picnic, so we thought we would meet up with them then. Desmond left earlier in the morning to do some wine tasting with his friends, while we just hung out at the house.
Around noon, we decided to head over to V. Sattui. This winery has a large picnic area and a really nice deli to buy food from. When we arrived, there were a number of people milling about the deli area, so we took a number and perused some of the cheeses they had. Georgeann noticed that they weren’t calling out numbers and that they were just helping whoever was next in line. So, we had to go back to the end of the line-up. But it didn’t take too long. There must have been a tour group ahead of us, because by the time we got to the counter, there was no one behind us.
While Georgeann and I were ordering our food, Randy went over to the wine counter to pick a wine to go with our meal. Once we got the food, we joined him. Randy had asked an employee for wine suggestions, and he started giving Randy a mini tasting. We had some sips as well. We settled on the chardonnay, paid for our stuff, and then headed out to a picnic table.
We ended up getting 2 types of prawns (herb & garlic and mustard), mushroom brie and crackers, button mushrooms and olives. Randy and I also split a short rib panini. It was all delicious.
We were just finishing off our meal when Desmond and his friends arrived. They went inside and picked a few more deli items and shared the rest of our food and wine with us. While we were sitting there, the Napa Wine Train went by (see video I took in the photo album). Then later on, a shorter one came by and actually stopped to let people off.
After lunch, we went back to the house. It was actually quite nice out, so Randy went for a walk, while Georgeann and I just sat on the deck and enjoyed the sun.
When Desmond was finished touring his friends around, he brought them back to the house and we had a drink with them. Then he drove them back to their hotel in downtown Napa. We ordered some takeout from Gott’s Roadside for him to pick up on the way back. Randy ordered the ahi tuna sandwich, and I got the mahi mahi tacos. Both were yummy.
We had some more wine, and I managed to stay up until after 9:00pm before going to bed.
Day 8 – Back to Tiburon
Woke up to warmer weather today (finally). We took our time getting ready and packing up, as we were heading back to Tiburon today. Around noon, Randy and I decided to head into downtown Napa to wander around for a bit. It was getting quite warm out, so Randy and I got a cool drink from Starbucks to sip as we walked around the downtown area.
We then stopped to fill the car up with gas and then made our way to Tiburon. We stopped at Rich and Alice’s place to help prepare for Georgeann’s birthday party on Saturday. The plan was to have the party outdoors, and so we went to help Rich move tables and chairs from his garage down to his lower patio where the party was to be held. Once we were done there, we continued on to Georgeann and Desmond’s place.
We had a bit of a snack, and then around 5:30pm, we all headed over to Sausalito to Georgeann’s mom’s place. Georgeann was told that we were going to order some Chinese food and hang out with her 2 brothers that were in town. But what she didn’t know is that her sister had also flown in from Washington, D.C., so it was going to be a surprise family get together. We left the siblings to catch up, while ourselves and Desmond went to Bar Bocce to have drinks and supper. This is a nice restaurant right on the water that is completely outdoors.
They don’t take reservations, so when we got there, it was a 30-minute wait for a table. However, they do allow you to order drinks from the bar and take them down to the “beach” where there are some benches. I decided to have a raspberry bellini and Randy had a beer.
Our table was ready in less than half an hour, so we settled in to have some food and drinks. For appetizers, we ordered sourdough breadsticks and spicy prawns. (I forgot to take a photo of the spicy prawns). Both appetizers were very good, but I really liked the breadsticks. We also ordered a half litre of pinot noir. Surprisingly, if you ordered two half litres, it was a dollar cheaper than ordering a full litre.
Once we were done our appetizers, we ordered some pizza. We went with a pear pizza and a prosciutto pizza. Both were delicious.
Just as we were finishing our food, Elliot and his girlfriend joined us (they had driven in from San Francisco). We ordered another half litre of the pinot to share with them. Once we were done, we all headed back to Georgeann’s mom’s, where we visited a bit with her family before heading back to the house.
We then sat around visiting some more. Desmond brought out some Zaya rum (because we hadn’t had enough drinks already). I managed to stay awake until 11:00pm, but finally had to call it and went to bed.
Day 9 – Georgeann’s Birthday Party
Today was the birthday party for Georgeann. Elliot and Nicole went out to get sourdough bread buns for the party, and also picked up some donuts for breakfast. Yum!
Desmond, Elliot and Nicole headed over to Rich and Alice’s place at 12:30pm to help with the setup up. We headed over with Georgeann around 1:30pm (the party started at 2:00pm). Alice and Rich had done an amazing job setting up for the party. There was a drinks table with champagne, red wine and soft drinks. The table set up was gorgeous. The champagne glasses had wine charms with your name on it, and they even handed out scarves/wraps to everyone in case it got cold out.
It was a gorgeous day, and it was almost too hot to be out in the sun for too long. But, drinking lots of champagne helped to keep a person cool. Randy and I helped prep some of the food and run stuff between the kitchen and the backyard. Randy also was helping to pour champagne for everyone.
For the meal, Rich had prepared pork tenderloin, beef tenderloin and salmon. There was rice, green beans, a salad and the sourdough buns to go with it.
After dinner, there was birthday cake, and then Georgeann opened presents.
Most everyone had left by 10:00pm. We helped to clean up a bit, and then headed back to the house. We stayed up and visited for a bit, and then went to bed.
Day 10 – Flying Home
Today we slept in and took our time having breakfast. Then, Randy went over to Rich and Alice’s to help with putting stuff away from the party, while I got things all packed up. Georgeann and Desmond were meeting Georgeann’s family for lunch at the Boudin Bakery in Corte Madera. So, we joined them. I had a chicken salad sandwich and Randy had a beef dip (both on sourdough bread). We also picked up a loaf of sourdough bread to take home with us.
Once we were done lunch, we stopped by Georgeann and Desmond’s place to check that we had everything packed, then headed off to the airport. Because there was the Bay to Breakers race happening, Google Maps told us to go through the middle of San Francisco (e.g. Japantown) to get to the airport. The route took us through some areas we hadn’t been to in a number of years. So, it was like we did a bit of sightseeing along the way.
There is a Costco close to the SFO Car Rental Centre, so we stopped there to fill up. Even though there was quite a long line, it didn’t take long for us to fill up and get going (it seems that the people here had a better understanding of how to fill up a car than in Sacramento). We dropped our rental car off, and then took the airtrain to the terminal.
Air Canada used to fly into the International Terminal at SFO (that’s where we arrived at), but as of May 10th, they had moved to Terminal 2. I guess they are also building an Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge there that will be open sometime later this year. Luckily the concierge had sent a note to Randy letting him know of the terminal change. Terminal 2 only has a few airlines that leave from there, so it wasn’t overly busy. When we arrived at the Air Canada check-in, there was no line-up (we were checking our bags because we were bringing wine home).
Randy recognized the check-in agent (Natalie) from when he used to fly to San Francisco for work. So, we had a little chat with her. Then, as we were walking to security, we ran into Augusta (an Air Canada supervisor) and had another chat with her.
There was no line at security, so we were through right away. It is so nice to use the TSA PreCheck lane – a person just puts their bags through the x-ray and walk through. Don’t have to take out liquids or laptops or take off shoes.
We went to check out where our gate was. Randy wanted to get our water bottles filled with ice and water, so he wandered to the nearest United lounge to get it, while I hung out with our backpacks. He also brought back some chocolate chip cookies.
Not long after, it was time to board the flight. As we got on the plane, we noticed that the galley area was a little different than the plane we had flown down on. I also noticed that there was no in-flight entertainment in the seats! WTF? It was the same type of plane (CRJ-900), but the interior didn’t have the same colour scheme as normal AC flights. It almost looked like they had leased it from someone else (even though the exterior was painted with the AC colours). According to the Air Canada website, their CRJ-900 planes are all supposed to have the entertainment TVs.
There was a power outlet at the seat, but it either wasn’t turned on, or didn’t work. There was no Wi-Fi access or streaming entertainment like they have on Rouge flights. Which was annoying, because if we had known, we would’ve downloaded some Netflix movies to watch.
As we were waiting to board, the 2 flight attendants seemed to be looking for something and couldn’t figure out where it was. This went on for about 15 minutes with them looking in various spots. They did finally find whatever they were looking for, but they seemed highly disorganized.
After we took off, the flight attendant came by with some almonds and offered drinks. I just got a Coke. Shortly afterwards, she came back to ask our dinner order. According to the Air Canada website, the choices were as follows:
We were not given menus – just asked if we wanted chicken or tortellini (not lasagna as indicated above). I decided to go with the chicken. However, when the food came out, my meal was the tortellini instead of the chicken. There seemed to be a lot of confusion with who was supposed to get what, so I just stuck with the tortellini. It was okay. They did bring around a warm bun, which was nice.
After the dinner service, they came around with a basket of snacks. I took a KitKat. For the rest of the flight, I just read a book I had on my iPad.
When we arrived in Edmonton, we had to show our ArriveCan approval before they let us into the Customs Hall. The Nexus machines were open, so we used those. Then we had to wait a few minutes for the bags to start coming out. Luckily, ours were one of the first ones out. We went outside and were picked up by Randy’s parents.
We had a great time with all our friends. Going for a week really gave us the opportunity to just relax and take it easy (which we both needed). Looking forward to the next time we can do this again!