Thunkity thunk bang bang CLANK! OK. This is not what you want to hear when your plane is taxi-ing to the runway for takeoff. My flight for San Francisco on Wednesday morning was already running about 1/2 hour late because something-or-other was going on with the fuel people over at the other end of the airfield. I don't even want to know what it was; it might scare me off of future air travel. My 6:45am flight finally got fueled and around 7:15 we headed toward the runway. This is when all the odd noises began. Soooo ... the pilot pulled off the runway and a little cart full of fix-it guys showed up and began looking things over. An announcement was then made to advise us that we would be delayed a bit longer since we needed to go back to the gate so the luggage compartment door could be fixed. I looked out the window to see if there was a trail of luggage scattered about the airfield and, if so, see if I could identify my carry-on with the bright yellow ribbon tied around the handle. This was a small (44 seat) regional jet and even most carry-ons don't fit in the overhead bins, so I opted to make my life easier and use the valet baggage check-in service. This is a very nice service that lets you take your baggage with you to the plane and hand it off to the valet who then immediately stows it in the baggage compartment. Well, I couldn't see any baggage laying about so was hopeful that our bags were still in the belly of the plane and would be travelling with us. Back at the gate I could hear the fix-it guys hammering away on the outside of the plane. While I waited I phoned one of my colleagues to advise him that I might be a teensy bit late for our meeting. Long story short ... the plane took off at about 7:45 and I arrived in San Francisco at 9am, grabbed a cab and made it to the meeting with about 1/2 hour to spare. My trip to San Francisco was looking up.
I was able to grab a cup of Peet's coffee to take with me to the meeting (I'd been up since about 4am) and this made me a very happy woman. The meeting (which was a working meeting) that should have taken all day was over by 1pm and some delicious looking sandwiches and salad were delivered for our lunch enjoyment. These were no ordinary sandwiches (remember, I was in San Francisco). These were smoked turkey with fig spread and swiss cheese on wonderful crusty french loaves. Mmmmm. Oh yeah, and they were paid for by the big boss. Smile.
Well, I found myself free at 1:30 with nothing to do for the rest of the day. So I headed over to my hotel and checked in. My hotel was near Union Square. For those who have never been to San Francisco, the area around Union Square is shopping and eating heaven. I had a nice 4 block walk to this shopping mecca and, well, started shopping! I wandered in and out of stores like Tiffaney's, Neiman Marcus, Ghirardelli and a host of others I was unfamiliar with; then browsed a few art galleries, stopped for a latte at a sidewalk cafe, and people watched. Before going back to my hotel to get ready for dinner I had to visit the seven story Macy's. Macy's has a presence in So-Cal, but it is nothing compared to the Macy's stores in New York City and San Francisco. I ended up in purse nirvana and decided that I absolutely MUST take home a beautiful ivory pebbled leather purse with tan saddle leather trim and strap (and no, it is not a Dooney & Bourke). I was astonished that the price tag on this purse didn't indicate that it would damage my personal funds too much. Ahhh ... what could be better than a free lunch, an unexpected day of shopping in San Francisco and a gorgeous new purse? How about dinner in San Francisco!
I met up with my colleagues at our hotel for dinner a few blocks away at E&O Trading Company. The best way to describe the food is to call it Asian Fusion or Southeast Asian cuisine. It is a blend of Indonesian, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, and East Indian. I think I'm in love with the chef. We started with a tableful of appetizers including: sweet potato naan, lettuce cups with curried chicken, and corn fritters. The various main dishes ordered were: gingered pork tenderloin, tandoori chicken, mushroom noodle soup, pad thai, and grilled salmon with an eggplant paste. They were all delicious, but I thought the pad thai and the grilled salmon were beyond excellent. Most pad thai dishes are tasty but lack any delineation of flavors. The pad thai at E&O was clearly full of the flavors of lime, peanuts, and mint blended expertly. As I mentioned, the grilled salmon was served with an eggplant paste. Now, I don't like eggplant but whatever the chef did to turn that vegetable into a heavenly paste that enhanced the grilled salmon should win him or her an award. Several awards. How about angel wings. OK, you get the picture ... the food was beyond fabulous. Again, what could be better than all of this bacchanalia? The big boss pulled out his credit card and paid for the whole thing. At this point I didn't think my happiness meter could go any higher.
Well, this wonderful and unexpected day of San Francisco shopping and food carried me through my all day meeting the following day and my race to the airport to catch a plane home that evening. So what can top such a blend of business and pleasure? What can make that happiness meter go off the chart? Arriving at my home airport and seeing my husband walking toward me with a smile on his face.