The last stops on our epic adventure were San Francisco and Sonoma. Crucially it meant that we could break up the very long flight home and also edge a little closer to the U.K. time zone. Looking back, breaking up our flights was a definite win, but it didn’t make that much difference on the time zone … well not as much as I had hoped! The jet lag from that 8 hour skip forward in time from California to London was still very hard on us all. I think it took us over a week to fully recover. Jet lag is tough but a baby with jet lag is even tougher.
Anyway… we spent one night in San Francisco near the airport. In years gone by we would never have stopped at an airport hotel. We would simply travel to our destination (even if it meant arriving in the early hours) so that we could make the most of the following day and if we had to stop somewhere for one night, we try to opt for a little luxury to make it worthwhile. But things are different now we have Rishi. We knew that the late afternoon flight added with the shift in time by a couple of hours would mean landing at roughly 8pm. So we chose something which made our lives simpler and less stressful. So we stopped off at a big-standard airport hotel, put him to sleep ASAP, and tried to get up early the next morning. Getting Rishi to sleep 8 hours + is the new luxury element for us!
We wanted to get out of the city early the next day as we have both spent time in San Francisco before and so didn’t need or want to hit all the tourist sites. I think the natural choice would be to go to Napa or Yosemite but having been fortunate enough to visit both places before, we decided to go to the smaller, but perfectly formed, Sonoma.
This element of the trip was meant to be about relaxing in a nice spa. In our minds any wine tasting was a bonus. We stayed at the Fairmont Mission Inn Spa, which is one of the only hotels with natural thermal spas in the country and we later found out that they hosted daily in-house wine tastings from local Sonoma wineries. This was music to my ears…
When we arrived, we arrived in perfect time for a wine tasting. What was perfect about this hotel was that it was pretty swish but also relaxed, which meant taking Rishi down to the restaurants and wine tastings was encouraged and he got loads of attention.
We ventured into Sonoma on one of our three days there. They are very proud of their plaza which is a bevy of excitement including boutique shops, restaurants, ice cream parlours and wineries. We didn’t have a reservation at any of the many wineries but had a recommendation from a local. I’m all for organising beforehand but my husband is a fan of local recommendations and being more spontaneous (as much as you can be with a baby) but what I really love about this way of holidaying is that I feel like we are really seeing those places you’re meant to, not just the ones that has been recommended in the guidebook. It just seems a little bit more of an adventure doing it this way. We headed to Panglass Wine Cellars and chose one of the food and wine tastings.
One of the luxuries of travelling with a baby of Rishi’s age is that he naps twice a day, so plan your day right and you can get to enjoy some adult activities while he’s getting his much needed sleep. Obviously, it’s not always like that and sometimes we had epic fails and commotion but on this day, it happened…So while we enjoying the delights of Sonoma wine, rishi napped and it was pretty perfect.
I think another adjustment to travelling with a baby is how you do the activities. We had booked a spa hotel as we wanted to enjoy the outdoor pools and massages and pre Rishi we would have been all over it. Quite rightly children and babies aren’t allowed in the spa pools. We did have a spa day, but we opted for breaking it up. So no romantic time in the pool or cuddling up in the jacuzzi (we are that couple and I make no apologies), I enjoyed a spa morning and Krishna had the afternoon. I really enjoyed my massage and my pool time, but this was one of the hardest days for me of the trip. The trip was about our family and as it was coming to an end I wanted us all to be together and to savour every minute. So our split spa day was good but I missed my boys.
We also took Rishi to a Michelin star restaurant. Now, I don’t want to be one of those parents that ruins the experience of a posh restaurant for everyone else but I do want to share great food and the excitement of eating out with my family. I hope that if we expose him to this kind of thing, he might love it when he grows up?! Who am I kidding, he will love KFC, just like his Dad! He’s been out to eat lots with us on this trip and he’s always been a pleasure if we go and share eating with him so this has meant us eating a little earlier than we normally would but actually it’s been fun doing it as a family. I’m pleased we opted for baby led weaning, even though it’s not always been an easy journey. There have been times when I have spent hours cooking up a storm for Rishi to just throw it on the floor but here he was tucking in and enjoying the food too.
After filling up on nice wines, foods and cheeses we were off to spend our last night in San Francisco.
For me, this was the kind of night you were expecting on a honeymoon. We were booked into the passion suite (like something out of fifty shades) and it was pure indulgence. Mix in champagne, a pedicure and some shopping and I was in seventh heaven. But what was the icing on the cake, was seeing Rishi roaming around the living room floor and just playing with his Daddy on the morning we left because quite simply, it’s those bonding moments that make it all worth it, that make all the memories.
We were blessed with a month travelling and 5 weeks of family time together when Rishi has been such a fun little boy. To say it was the best month of my life, is maybe even an understatement. It was just what my little family needed and I feel closer than ever to both of my boys.