California Dreaming

I was 7 years old when the school secretary pulled me out of the lunch line and said I should go out front of the school, because my parents were there. I panicked a little, but when I got there, it was nothing to panic about. My dad's cousin, who'd emigrated to the US when he was a wee boy, had come to Scotland for a visit with his wife, looked us up and popped in to say hi. They only had a day because they were off to do some golf sightseeing, but I'll never forget the hour we spent sitting in the back of the car in the school car park. They promised they'd take my sister and I to Disneyland if we ever made it over to California, and a seed was sown. Sadly, they passed away several years ago without my sister or I having made it to the US, never mind to California, and it's one of my biggest regrets. I don't remember what age I was when I saw Tales of the City on TV, but it must have been when I was around 16 (I got my first telly when I passed my exams at 15) and it made an incredible impression on me. It was at that point that my vague "California" wanderlust settled firmly in San Francisco.

A few years on and I've discovered wine and am well on my way to becoming a potential "wine ponce". I've also had good friends telling me tales of Sonoma County and Napa Valley wineries and how much fun (and good food and drink) they've had. Throw in a bit of Sideways and Oz and James and my San Francisco wanderlust has expanded to cover Wine Country too.

So, with the background set, you can imagine how excited I was when HFBB phoned me this morning to say that he'd booked flights for us to go to San Francisco, leaving on the 1st of July and coming back on the 17th.

Reader, I may have shed a tear.

My California dream is coming true.

In three weeks time I'll be in my seat on the plane, somewhere over the East Coast of the US on the way to the one place in the world I've always wanted to go. I was beyond excited when I went to Austin for SXSW two years ago, but this has caused my excitement levels to go stratospheric.

Currently we plan to spend a few days in San Francisco when we arrive, then take off for a wee bit of a tour round Wine Country (maybe even in a convertible!) and then back to San Francisco for the last couple of days before we come home.

Thanks to twitter I've had some great recommendations already. I especially have to give a massive shout out to Jason Reed who has gone above and beyond the call of duty for recommendations. He is a total legend.

That said, I'm still open to recommendations. So, is there anywhere in SF/the Bay Area/Wine Country that I'd be a complete fool not to visit?