I woke in an airport hotel in Miami this morning a little dazed and confused after an exhausting day travelling back across the US exasperated by a 4-hour flight delay and a further wait whilst San Francisco airport ‘re-opened’ after a visit from Air Force One.
I sat next to an Aussie on the way back who lives in Miami but commutes to work in San Francisco, I’m not sure I could do that, it must play havoc with your sleep patterns.
The west coast trip from a work perspective was excellent and following a lot of planning and discussion, I really think we pulled it off and the whole visit was very satisfying.
The day in Napa Valley raised the bar for a ‘corporate bonding day.’ Our wheels was a pimped up converted school bus, which was quite an experience. The 25-year old Gilig school bus was a cross between a camper van and a motel. For convenience sake our driver and guide had overstocked it with ‘refreshments’ and the bus boasted an impressive stereo system.
Out first stop at Napa was Silver Oak, a most delightful Cab, you won’t ever meet. Our guide Thomas was a superstar and regaled us with stories and one-liners. We did the full tour and I took the prize (that wasn’t on offer) for spilling the first drop of wine in the spotlessly clean production room after I swirled my tasting glass a little too vigourously. Those that know me will not be surprised.
We were at Silver Oak for a good couple of hours and they were very generous with their tasting pours. Lunch was at the Carneros Inn, where it got competitive over games of bocce as the wine continued to flow.
Our next planned stop was Cuvaison, but we rolled up late and despite having a bus full of hardened negotiators, they wouldn’t allow us on the tour because “we were late and everyone had gone home.” More likely I would suggest that the sight of 12 people pouring out of bright yellow school bus, with the music blaring, carrying Mason jam jar’s of red wine, was a little bit intimidating!
On the way back one of the guys wanted to take us to the vineyard where he got married and to my delight it was the boutique producer of Gundlach Bundschu, one of mine and the other half’s favourite places when we last went together to Sonoma.
This was my fifth visit to the great city of San Francisco, and I had yet to see the full beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge because of the continual fog that engulfs it. However driving back on the bus we lucked out and got to see it’s beauty in full technicolour.
The Golden Gate Bridge has to be up there as one of the most inspirational and grandiose sights on the planet and judging by the excitement on our bus to witness it, including those that have lived in San Fran all their lives, plus the amount of cars and coaches that had pulled over to take a photo, it was a rare sighting.
We finished the day off with some cleansing ales in the cool area of The Marina, shared with a couple of old mates from Chicago, who now live nearby, followed by copious amounts of Chinese food.
San Francisco is one of America’s great places. Sensational to visit, hugely liveable, if not hideously expensive. I was sad to leave.