Wow! That is my first reaction as I look back on the 10 days I just spent in SF area with my partners in travel Melanie, Betty, and Edith. We were staying with Edith’s son Barry and his partner, Llorente, at their lovely cottage in Sunset Beach. Let me say from the get-go that they are amazing hosts in every way. I adore them and I am so grateful for them!
We spent the first 3 days and the following Monday and Tuesday touring the city- just being tourists, enjoying the beautiful sites, eating, drinking and laughing our way through San Francisco. Some of the highlights included our first view of the Golden Gate Bridge and walking along the bay, taking in all the beauty and life in and around SF bay. We enjoyed all the flowers and gardens-especially Golden Gate Park and getting to visit with recent tally expat Marina. A highlight for me was a boat ride under the Golden Gate Bridge- just experiencing the views, the wind and the water from the bay. I especially loved seeing the bridge from below and watching the wind-surfers on that wild daunting water. We walked down Lombard St and saw the city from Coit Tower. We toured the deYoung Museum and experienced an earthquake in the Academy of Science. We visited the Painted Ladies and the Japanese Tea Gardens. We walked a LOT of hills, we ate a LOT of really good food, we had a LOT of really delicious cocktails and we had a LOT of fun!
By far the highlight of our time in SF was our Bastille Day celebration at Restaurant Jeanne d’Arc. We were all in shock because of the horrible events that had just occurred in Nice, and we weren’t sure how people were going to feel or even if the restaurant would be open but we were so lucky to experience what felt like a large family gathering! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience ! The setting was a wonderful replica of an old french restaurant underground with stone walls and a slightly shabby elegance. We entered to slight chaos as first seating was leaving but we were immediately directed to a lounge area and served champagne and even serenaded while we waited. It is a french family restaurant with many ethnic groups working there as one big family having fun and working together.
After we were seated and given menus and songbooks ( yes, as it turns out we were expected to sing) I began to really start to absorb all that I was witnessing. Everyone was singing and celebrating, everyone was hugging and kissing, and enjoying the delicious food. We savoured each course and listened to music from a group that included a violin, an accordian and operatic quality singers performing french ballads and classics. Sometimes the diners joined in the singing or spontaneously broke into a dance. The owner was a lovely older french gentleman who welcomed everyone with open arms and a kiss on each cheek. More than half of the patrons were french expats, but everyone there was celebrating and sometimes crying together as one.
In the midst of all the revelry I kept flashing to all of France and the knowledge that it was the middle of the night there. The fact that many were unaware of the events in Nice and would soon be waking up to this awful news just stabbed at my heart and there remained a layer of poignancy throughout the evening that added a sense of tenderness to all the singing and camaraderie. At one point the owner asked the crowd for a moment of silence to honor France and Nice. We all stood and sang La Marseille and the Star Spangled Banner. Afterward, we all stood cheering and laughing and crying. We did what people all over the world have done for centuries in times of sadness and in times of celebration.
As a group we all chose love and joy to heal the wounds of the world.
May we all choose love and joy!
Lift your face, Cindy