2nd May, Tuesday
I meet Katherine at the Hong Kong airport where I transit (Kat lives in HK) - we're on the same flight to San Francisco.
7.00pm: Arrive at San Francisco 1/2 hr ahead of schedule. Amazing number of Asians here! Practically all the Immigration officers are Chinese. I get Ma and Kat gets Wong! As usual, with the American immigration procedures, I get my fingerprints scanned and get my photo taken with a little webcam.
8.00pm: Kat's friend, Elroy picks us up. He's very kindly offered to put us up at his Berkeley apartment. Elroy is American and works in Taiwan running an entertainment biz (i.e. throwing big parties with guest DJs, what a cool job!) but is coincidentally back in the US on a visit. As he's a big Laker's fan, he absolutely MUST see the big game that night so we drive over to a sport's bar called Jillian's in the city. Unfortunately the Lakers lose, and 20+ points at that! We bump into Gavin, Elroy's friend who's in on business from NY. Later we go for drinks at the Thirsty Bear pub - where we polish off a pitcher (they don't call them jugs) of Sangria.
3rd May, Wednesday
11.00am: We're off to visit the Napa Valley wineries today - I'm reminded of Mr Big from Sex & the City who runs off to Napa after claiming he's gotten sick fo the city ("if you're tired, you take a nappa..you don't go to Napa!")
We want to get Jack in the Box but keep missing all the stops....and end up in a Taco Bell for lunch. I generally don't like Mexican food, but I'm willing to try the original Taco Bell! Despite my expression, I actually found my food - soft tacos - to be not bad at all.
Wineries - We go to a bunch, I can't remember all their names but here's the first one we visit, Robert Mondavi I didn't even know it was a famous winery until later, when YJ and Kisu told me. When I returned to Sing, I saw bottles of their stuff at Cold Storage, so I was more convinced then, heh!
Look at all those grapes! The winery grounds are just breathtaking...
This is us at the end of the winemaking tour at the CakeBread winery (it started out as a bakery, hence the name. I'm not really sure how that happened..I kind of spaced out at this point in the tour when the guide was giving us a background of the winery).
1 barrel makes 25 cases. 1 case has 12 bottles....etc etc. Hmm. so that's a lot of wine there behind us, eh?
The last winery we visit is V. Sattui - it's huge and got some nice picnic grounds. So we pick up bagette, cream cheese, pate and proscuitto from the little deli inside and have ourselves a little picnic! Very nice....
We get back in and crash...some of the jetlag sets in. Dinner is quiet - we walk to Korean food at a small place near the apartment called Berkel-Berkel. Kat and I have a craving for ice cream, so Elroy brings us to get some frozen yoghurt for dessert! We both order a Mini cup (the smallest size), but it was definitely not mini!
4th May, Thursday
We wake up late and go for lunch at Chez Panisse. We walk there, cutting through the UCLA Berkeley campus. I get approached by a student to support "Human Rights in China" - stunned, I wave him away - none of of us even look like students - we're not carrying huge backpacks like the rest of the college going crowd. Great, now he probably thinks I'm some heartless creature who's forgotten about home after making it out of China.
1.15pm: Chez Panisse - it's quite popular and supposed to be real chi chi - serves Californian cuisine - I'm not really sure what that is, though. Can you actually define Californian cuisine? I get a grilled chicken with homemade herb sausage...Kat & Elroy both get the grilled Halibut with asparagus. The food as I see seems like that of any other hip modern cafe.
After lunch, we drive out to the city - Yun-jo is arriving at 6 and we're supposed to check in and meet her at our hotel at Union Square.
We stay at the Westin St Francis - great location right in the heart of shopping. It's at a great price and we get a room upgrade with Kat's Preferred guest card!
7.30pm: YJ makes it in about an hour late...we've got some time to dinner with Matt, so we head off to the nearest Crate & Barrel (where Matt is registered) to pick up his wedding gift. Since there are 4 of us sharing, we pick up a pretty large gift - it's a set of frying pans & saucepans. Kat & YJ then say we need to wrap it. I'm like, why? After all Crate & Barrel have already put it in a nice box and everything.. But they think we need wrapping since it's a wedding gift. OK..so where's the nearest place to pick up wrapping paper? Walgreens...and there's no time to go back to the hotel to wrap it..so we make do and use a counter in the Walgreen's store. Thank goodness no one drove us away!
Ta Dah!! OK lah, it looks quite nice with all that wrapping and the silver bow. I guess all that pain & effort was worth it!
We dump the gift on Matt when he picks us up! As in, straight into his boot/trunk. Not even the congratulatory handshake and passing over of the gift.
5th May, Friday
10.00am: We have pancakes at Sears Fine Foods nearby our hotel...it's a place that Matt recommended. It's good but (or therefore) crowded!
We do a quick shop run and then Elroy drives us down to meet Kisu at the airport. Yun-jo and I go pick up our rental car. This is a monumental moment for all of us, entrusting our lives into YJ's hands...because this is the first time she's driving since she got her license, really!
We have little choice because
1. I have no US/International driving license.
2. Kisu's US license has expired.
3. Kat's US license has expired, but even if it hadn't, we'd be in the same situation because Kat doesn't drive either!
We start our drive into Healdsburg, 90 mins away from SF city, which is where Matt & Kumi are going to be married. Here we are driving across the Golden Gate bridge.
Finally, finally manage to make a stop at an In N Out burger! Yums..this is positively the best fast food burger! Everything is fresh - no frozen meat! If you're a fan of the OC, you'll recall that the bunch (esp. Seth & Summer) favour In N Out - recognise the little palm tree covered cups?
We make it to Healdsburg, finally (YJ's driving was pretty good! Kat & I actually fell asleep on the journey) It is teeny-TINY...there's a square with some shops and cafes and that's about it.
We have dinner at the Hotel Healdsburg which is right on the square - it's small, very boutique like. Matt has arranged dinner for all the out of town folks - a very interesting bunch from Singapore, HK, Sweden, Tokyo, London...Our dinner is in a barn like looking place. Just one long table and two couches by the side. But I just LOVE the colour scheme they used..this fresh green, with light pine coloured wood and dusky pink roses for the flower displays. Lovely place...
6th May, Saturday
We have breakfast and walk around Healdsburg square, which takes us all of 10 minutes.
We have time to kill before the wedding which is at 5pm, so we hit the wineries (this time in Sonoma Valley) again.
Here we are at the Rochioli winery, where we do the picnic thing again.
5.00pm: We arrive at St Paul's Episcopalian church - which is just walking distance from our B&B (the Midnight Inn). The church, like the town of Healdsburg (or what Kisu refers to as Heelyberryburg) is TINY. It is a snug fit for 70 people. The bride's side of the family arrives in kimonos...very cute! Although I was expecting something more spectacular ..guess it was because of my recent viewing of Memoirs.
5.45pm: A coach arrives to take us to the Michel Schlumberger Winery, which is a private winery where the dinner reception is. The reception is beautiful! Very Martha Stewart like - you know those articles where they dissect a wedding and give you a photomontage of the flowers, cake, food, menu, gown etc? Yup, I felt this wedding would be a worthy candidate. The dinner is in the Spanish courtyard of the winery, which was built 30 years ago by a Frenchman. There are fairy lights in the courtyard and we sit close to a rectangular central pond/ fountain thinggie. Made the jetlag and short trip worth it!
We finish up with drinks at the Hotel Healdsburg - I think this is like the only decent nightspot in town, say our goodbyes to the newly Mr & Mrs Matthew Clark and head back to our final night at the Midnight Inn.
7th May, Sunday
9.30am: We checkout and have breakfast before driving back into the city. Seems like we can't escape the touristy thing - we end up walking around Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39 and looking at the stinky sealions.
4.00pm: After doing a spot of shopping at Union Square - hurray for uncensored DVDs galore at Virgin megastore - we're stumped for things to do. A quick call to Elroy and he suggests Golden Gate Park. I'm not really one for gardens, but not much choice at this point and the weather is definitely more conducive to walks in the park than in Singapore. So we visit the Japanese garden, the Botanic garden and Shakespeare Garden (which is really just a snall patch of land with a bust of Shakespeare)
6.30pm: Drop by Chinatown, because again, nothing else to do. A quick walk around just to kill time.
8.15pm: Dinner at Luna park. Recommended by Kenny, Kat's friend, we arrive at a distinctly more ghetto area than usual. Erm....hope we're not getting ourselves into something more than we can handle! We need a place that we can hang out until around 11pm as our flight is at 1.25am. Luckily, the place is actually pretty decent - it's this dim, hip looking place. I think I got the best food of the night, their pork cutlets with mash. Kenny and his friend David joins us for a few drinks before we're dropped off at the airport.