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THE HIDDEN BEAUTY OF SAN FRANCSICO Print E-mail
by Sandra Lewis    Wed, Mar 8, 2006, 02:21 AM

On Monday I felt lucky to land a window seat on standby status returning home one flight early from nine days in California – San Diego, Costa Mesa, and San Francisco for business, and then three days of pleasure in Healdsburg for the weekend wine barrel tasting event.

Somewhere over the Nevada desert I caught site of another jet flying some distance below and in the opposite direction; another jet just like mine filled with people either going to or returning from somewhere.

I wondered about the anonymous jet and its passengers. What was its final destination, who was on board and why? I’ll never know.

American Airlines claims to know why we fly and built a recent advertising campaign around this theme; mostly it’s a personal list – golf, Labor Day weekend, clean sheets, because kids won’t be kids forever, the list goes on.

Yeah, right.

That’s not the reason why in the first couple of months of 2006 I’ve made it halfway to Gold and a quarter of the way to Platinum status where the real perks start.

Travel means business. And mostly that means I travel alone.

Single-handedly I can tote my backpack, computer bag, and suitcase, navigate unknown airports and cities, manage Southern California traffic, and maneuver all the one-way streets of San Francisco.

I am woman, hear my roar.

Yeah, right.

Not at dinner time. I hate dining out alone.

But I deplore even more the thought of eating marginal room service or lukewarm food from a to-go container so I am forced to flee my hotel room.

I set out one evening this past week in San Francisco feeling apprehensive, uncertain of how my evening would unfold, good book in hand for comfort.

 I’m very glad I did.

Just a few doors down and across the street from the Prescott Hotel, I spotted Farallon with its elegant, jellyfish-looking lights hanging from the ceiling in the bar. The menu far exceeded what my company expense limits would allow, but I stopped in for a glass of wine simply because from the street it looked inviting.

I took the first empty chair I spotted at the bar, and over a glass of Pinot Noir I met and chatted with longtime friends and locals sitting to my right, Mike and Michael.

We laughed about the disappointing photography exhibit they had just browsed. Mike said he was glad to have gotten the intrigue of it out of his system. I learned that Mike is godfather to one of Michael’s daughters. And they both explained why they loved the city by the bay and I shared why I have a Texas-shaped heart.

Mike insisted I try the food at Farallon and left his tab open with instructions to the bartender to close it out after I had dined. A prior commitment prevented either from joining me for dinner.

So I enjoyed a luscious meal and even though I dined alone I didn’t feel alone.

I had made a chance connection with two delightful people who previous to that moment had been complete strangers to me. I ventured out and they opened their lives to me for the hour or so we chatted at the bar with the seaweed columns, the generous dinner offer totally unexpected.

I’ve reflected on that nameless jet that passed by a couple of days ago.  So close yet a safe distance away. That could easily be me, jetting in, around, and out of a beautiful city keeping my distance, succumbing to a hermit-like life in my hotel room.

I’m glad it wasn’t.

I took flight and came in for a landing in San Francisco all at once which was a thing of beauty.

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