A perfect day in Berkeley, Sonoma, Napa and San Francisco

The day started relatively early. I decided to run from the Four Points Sheraton in Emeryville to Sanjana’s apartment, wake her up, have coffee with her, and run back. It would be a run between 5.5 and 6 miles; slightly uphill on my way there, and slightly downhill on my way back. I txt’d her before I left and didn’t hear back. The run there was comfortable with temperatures in the mid-50s with overcast skies. You’d think that I would be cold, but the slight cool breeze felt good.

I got there in about 24 minutes and rang Sanjana’s apartment. Crickets. I patiently waited for a few minutes, rang her apartment again. Crickets again! I ran back a bit faster (downhill).

We relaxed for a bit and then decided to go to Sonoma. The plan was to drive to Sonoma, hang out there, eat lunch at The Girl and the Fig, hang some more and then come back to town. Last summer, Binita went to France with the Whoopie Babes and the chef/owner of The Girl and the Fig (Sandra Bernstein). We were hoping that Sandra would be at the restaurant and would give us a nice table and treat us like VIPs.

The drive to Sonoma was uneventful and smooth, albeit full of traffic. As you drive into Sonoma valley, you see vineyards on both sides. I have never spent any time in Europe, but this part of California must look like the vineyards of Italy and France. It is gorgeous. As we drove through the vineyards, my shoulders relaxed and the tension from the back of my neck released. No wonder Binita wants to buy a villa here!

We parked near Sonoma square, walked a bit and went to the restaurant. We could see that there was a long wait for a table. It was noon. I went inside and here is roughly how the conversation went with the hostess:

Me: Hi, I’d like a table for 5.
Hostess: Excellent. It will be about 90 minutes. We can seat you at around 1:30.
Me: Oh! What if my wife knows Sandra Bernstein?
Hostess: <Smirk> (thinking, ya right)
Me: What if my wife went to France with Sandra? Is she here?
Hostess: <Smiling> Yes, there she is, at the end of the bar!
Me: <Turning around towards Sanjana> Where’s Binita?

What transpired next was a sight to behold. Sandra saw Binita; Binita saw Sandra and there was a tight hug! Needless to say, we were seated in about 5 minutes at the best table on the back patio. The food, service and ambiance were exceptional. Here are a few pictures from our superb lunch!

Binita sampling wine

Binita with the chef, Sandra Bernstein

Sanjana and Sheelben loving life

Next, we drove to Napa and stopped at Opus One. We are coming back to Napa in October for B’s 30th birthday (remember, 50 is the new 30). We are staying in a villa right next to Opus One.

Binita giving expert grape commentary at Opus One

The grapes are almost ready to harvest, and we sampled a few of them. I think they were Cabernet grapes. It was a perfectly gorgeous day with temperatures in the mid-70s as we explored and walked through the vineyards.

Sanjana having fun in Napa

On our way back, we stopped in Yountville near a shopping center. People were huddled in cafes and random singers were singing Don MacLean tunes. I had chai as we walked around and admired the artwork. It couldn’t get much better. I was with family with not a care in the world, and we were in Napa!

In the evening, we drove to San Francisco and met Sachi at The Slanted Door, a Vietnamese restaurant with modern cuisine. Sachi has grown to be a beautiful, mature girl who is travelling all over the world now. She lived in London for a while and is in San Francisco now for about a year.

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was around midnight. It has been a perfect day! I will savor it for a long long time!

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