End of a decade travels (part 1: family)


It’s Christmas Eve! For my family, that’s our day to gather. I picked up my mother and we drove out to my brother’s home in the suburbs. There we had breakfast, opened gifts, talked, and played outside with my nieces. (It was almost 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which is unseasonably warm.) Mom and I left around 2:30pm to take her home before I drove to the airport.

As I had experienced the previous day, the service at National Rental Car was friendly and helpful. I was quickly checked out and made my way to the airport shuttle. I was asked to switch seats to the exit row so a family could sit together (yes, of course!) and had an easy flight to San Francisco, where Virginia picked me up. An hour later, we were at her aunt’s house and going to bed.


Christmas morning was very quiet (all adults). We ate and caught up with each other through the morning and early afternoon. After dinner, we watched It’s A Wonderful Life, which I hadn’t seen in years, before calling it a night.


We all had breakfast together before going our separate ways for the day. Virginia’s father really liked my Allbirds Tree Runners and wanted two pairs to take back to Korea. The closest store was in San Francisco, which was over an hour’s drive. Virginia and I offered to do that while her father and aunt spent some time together.

We checked the Allbirds website and timed our travel accordingly. Sadly, the website was wrong and we were an hour early (and weren’t the only ones who did that). So we went for coffee at Reveille Coffee Co. a block away to while away the time. We went back at 11am and picked up the two pairs of shoes, stowing them in the rental car.

Virginia wanted to check out the sale at MM LaFleur so we walked down Market to their showroom. After striking out there, we walked up to Union Square and had lunch at Hops & Hominy (though neither of us had either of those things). We did enjoy our sandwiches, which came out ridiculously quickly. After lunch, we completed our walking circle back to the car and drove back. We took Virginia’s father and aunt out to dinner at Bluefin, a Japanese restaurant nearby.


We were all up early for a quick breakfast. Virginia’s father was flying home that morning and wanted to be at SFO early. We drove him to the airport and Virginia made sure he was checked in and on his way through security to the airport lounge while I put gas in the rental car. I picked up Virginia and we returned the car, prepared for a day at SFO before our flight that afternoon. We decided to start with breakfast at the Grand Hyatt SFO, which had only recently opened. The space is airy and open and the food was quite good (though the coffee wasn’t as good as we’d hoped). After breakfast, we went to our terminal and settled in at the airport lounge for a few hours of work, lunch, and relaxation.

We went to the gate and were surprised to get an upgrade Virginia had requested. We were flying to JFK, so it was very welcome for the long flight. We had an easy, uneventful trip and landing, arriving around midnight EST. We took the AirTrain to Terminal 5 and checked in at the TWA Hotel (more on that in the next installment).

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