Tag Archives: San Francisco

A Scotland Adventure – Part 11, The journey home


Hello, and welcome back to your annual story time of Ben and Sarah’s international adventures! Keeping with the tradition of the last few years, Sarah and I visited with her family, this year going back to Scotland.


Saturday, 04-Jan-2020


The end of the adventure went a bit more smoothly than the start, though not quite as easily as we would have hoped… But that’s okay.  Sometimes a bit of a challenge comes up at the last minute – but that doesn’t undo all of the good that happened before.

We left Aberdeen bright and early on Saturday.  Or, early on Saturday, at least… it wasn’t quite late enough in the day for it to be bright out.  One of the downsides of life way up in the North of Scotland.  The weather was lovely though, and Bill and Greta had coffee and snacks waiting for us as soon as we came downstairs.  Not a bad morning, not a bad morning at all.

Our first few flights were easy; no worries and no hassles at all, except for what amazing meal to request, or what weird movie to check out.  It was nice, and gloriously relaxing.

Unfortunately, the flight from San Francisco out to Portland ran into a bit of a challenge – or more accurately, we ran into a challenge getting to the flight.  Getting into the EU from the States is beautifully simple; you walk through the gate, an automated kiosk checks you in, bing bang boom.  Getting back INTO the States, though… that’s a bit different story.

Our flight had landed a little bit later than planned, if I recall correctly, and that little bit was just enough to push it over the edge.  When Customs and Border security was slower than normal, that was the nail in the coffin, and our flight took off with us still trying to get checked back in.  Fortunately there were two more flights to Portland leaving SFO that same evening… unfortunately, they weren’t leaving for almost eight more hours.

So we waited for eight hours, then flew home.

We were excited to see our own bed by that point, I tell you what.  But you know what?  A little challenge at the end of a trip doesn’t make it any less of an excellent trip.  The good experiences we had, and the amazing photos that we took home with us more than make up for any delays in flights or airline battles.


A Scotland Adventure – Part 2, the flights out


Hello, and welcome back to your annual story time of Ben and Sarah’s international adventures! Keeping with the tradition of the last few years, Sarah and I visited with her family, this year going back to Scotland.


Saturday, 21-Dec-2019 through Monday, 23-Dec-2019


I think those dates are correct… right?  Probably?

Traveling days are strange.  I doubt I’m the first one to say it, but it absolutely bears repeating – Travel days are strange, and time doesn’t quite seem to flow normally.

That was especially true for this trip, because our flights didn’t quite go as planned…


I thought I was being smart.  I forced myself to stay up late Friday evening, putting myself a bit to the East in terms of time zone… which should have helped me adjust to Scotland time, in my mind.  However, when our flight our of San Francisco was delayed, it meant that I wasn’t what you would call “awake and aware”… much less feeling ready to battle with the airlines and their confusing rerouting plans.

We worked through it though, and were able to get new flights scheduled – direct from San Francisco, this time, which we figured would be a nice bonus.  Long flight, lots of things to work on… good deal, right?


Our original plan was to fly to San Francisco, then on to Dallas, then Heathrow, and then to our destination in Aberdeen.  We ended up flying to San Francisco, staying overnight, then flying straight to Heathrow and then on to Aberdeen.  Not a huge difference, and it did give us a chance to walk around the city a bit, and even see my cousin Emma!


I’m jumping all over the place on this blog… But bear with me.  So we flew to SFO, then got delayed.  We made a few phone calls, rebooked our flights, and then tracked down a place to stay.  We could have stayed with friends or family, but in all respect to us… we were a mess at that point.  All we wanted was a soft bed, some food, and not having to think about anything at all.

The airport hotel did perfectly for all of those needs.  We did price-check, of course, and it was roughly the same price as the “preferred budget options” that the Airline told us about, so good deal, right?



We got there, checked in, rested for a bit, and then headed downstairs for some much-needed food.  I’ll admit that the trip back down from the hotel room was much more difficult than it had any right to be, most likely due to a combination of being tired and hotel beds being strangely magnetic… but we did make it down, finally.

Was it worth it?

I don’t think I can say “yes” emphatically enough.

The Grand Hyatt is a lovely hotel, and that’s cool and all, but the restaurant is where it’s at.  The food was glorious, and the waiter was quite possibly the best that I’ve had, ever.  He was friendly, accommodating, and very relaxingly positive.  The menu looked awesome, but I just wanted a comfort-food hamburger… so he asked the chef, and they brought out the best (yet most chill) burger ever.  THEN, on top of it all, he brought out glorious desserts, compliments of the house.

Yeah, it was pretty good.

Anyways, enough chanting the praises of the food – it was a good way to end a rough day, and we slept like logs afterward.



The next day, we had some time before we’d even be let back into the terminal – so we explored San Francisco a bit more!  Nothing exceptional, but we kept quite well to the theme of relaxed chill times… we had a nice cup of coffee at the hotel, then had an early lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in the city (Kiki’s Japanese), walked around Golden Gate Park, and then got the chance to visit with my cousin Emma for a few quick hours before heading back to the hotel to get our bags, and then mosey onward to the terminal, and Scotland!

The flights across the pond were quick and simple in comparison to the start of the adventure, and we landed in Aberdeen without too much challenge.  The only touch and go part was in Heathrow, trying to find out information about our checked baggage… but I’ll leave the whole checked bags story for another time.

For now, all we need say is that the flights were beautiful and that first-class is an amazing experience that I’m hugely thankful for!

04 & 05-Feb, Visit to San Francisco

04 & 05-Feb, Visit to San Francisco

Visit to San Francisco… Because why not, right?

Saturday and Sunday, 04 & 05 Feb, 2017

Sometimes, you have to just get out of town. Especially when “town” is defined as “a frozen wasteland full of ice and snow and cold and ice”. Sarah and I needed to get out of town. Hood River had gotten old, and the constant snow storms were getting a bit ridiculous.

Where to go, though? We didn’t want to pay a lot for a flight, or have a long flight to sit through. And we didn’t want to have to plan something big and in-depth out. San Francisco ticked all of those boxes – doubly so, since we’d been talking about going for ages.

We booked tickets, booked a few days at doggy camp for Ollie, and drove to the airport.

One night, two days. Flying out of Portland on a Saturday morning, and flying home on a Sunday evening. Staying at a random hotel that my Mom recommended… mostly because it was easy to book, but definitely also because it was cheap.

Plans? Meh. No real plans. Hang out with my cousin and her newborn baby. Eat at a cool restaurant that Sarah’s family loves. Aside from that… nothing, except for enjoy the weather and lay low for a weekend.

And we ticked off all our goals!

Saturday, we landed, dropped our bags at the hotel, and immediately started walking. Lunch was imperative, and Sarah hadn’t ever been to Kiki’s, so we started our adventures there. Fuel is important, don’t you know.

Walks, the De Young museum, and Golden Gate Park were a good follow up for us… It’s strange, but I’ve been to the observation tower at the De Young a few times, but I’d never been inside before. I think fate was having me save that experience for a time I could go with Sarah, because having her with me made the whole experience so much better than it ever would have been if I was alone…

It’s something I’ve learned, but I just miss like 70% of the content of an art gallery. Nothing against me, it’s just that I’ve never made art like that, so I don’t know to look for certain things. Sarah points them out to me, and the context generally sheds a whole new dimension to the piece in question. And at a museum like the De Young, that’s a huge component!

So we walked. I enjoyed, and Sarah explained. I learned, and asked questions that made her question more, which gave us an even cooler understanding of the space and pieces. It was awesome.

Visiting Emma and Matt can be described pretty handily as “Meeting the baby!”… but we did get more time with them than I’d expected, which was really awesome. I always want more time though, and we didn’t get to spend nearly as much time catching up with them and my Mom as we could have. But it just means Sarah and I will have to fly back to Boston again soon, so we can spend some more time hanging out and chatting, right?

And I’ll be honest – meeting the Baby was really cool. His stare… I’ve never (as far as I remember) played with a baby as young as he was, so I don’t really have anything to compare it to. But the stare was draining! I loved playing and making him laugh, but I felt so intensely tired afterward, it was really surprising.

What else… not that much, really. We visited. Caught up, Emma and Matt met Sarah. Sarah met Emma and Matt. We ate tacos. Drank wine. Had to leave far too early. But that wasn’t a bad thing, because I think we were passed out within 20min of getting back to the hotel.

I mean, we did go to a dessert place first though. We’re not barbarians.

Sunday was our food day. I mean, the whole trip would probably have been categorized as a food trip by anyone listening to our conversations… Thinking about it, I know exactly why our dog is food focused. It’s because we’re food focused, and basically plan our whole lives around what we’re going to eat. You think we climb Mt. Hood to summit? No way… we climb it so that our dinner tastes that much better.

Anyways, we walked. We walked to a place called Henry’s Hunan – a restaurant that Sarah had grown up eating at, and that was called “the best Chinese in the world” by some guy back a really long time ago. At least according to the menu.

I’d agree with that menu; it was delicious. I can totally see why it was so imperative that we go there (and it wasn’t easy… we had to walk 3.5 miles, then an extra .6 miles when the one we were aiming for was closed). Everything was solid, and the food was just spicy enough that you could notice it.

Then more walking, this time toward Pier 39, mini donuts, and (unexpectedly) a new engineering notebook, when we stopped into a random Moleskin shop. We did look at jewelry for a little bit too (Valentine’s day, remember, is coming up!), but didn’t find anything that caught Sarah’s eye enough to shell out San Francisco prices for it.

What else… really, not that much. Our Sunday was spent walking, chatting, and enjoying the architecture of the city. It was extremely nice – Just Sarah and myself, no goals, no real timetables, and nothing pulling at our minds. A good mini vacation.