Summer’s ending and I’ve decided to take a break and close the season by embracing the new way to vacay – yes, amidst the delta variant peak, I’ve put an end to cabin fever, opted to travel and went back to my jet setting self.
That’s way too risky, I hear you say. Yet, 18 months into this pandemic, we’ve come to realize that the virus is here to stay and learning how to cope with the crippling reality safely and responsibly is in our own hands. My partner and I gave this a deep thought and we ended up rationally weighing our options that led to carefully planning our 7-day vacation. If we’d previously spontaneously hop on a plane and enjoy an unplanned adventure, this time we are more intentionally structured – this I believe is the first rule of travel in the current setting.
Safety across all aspects topped our planning priorities. We’ve set our firm personal guidelines – fly only after we’re fully vaccinated, go for a domestic destination, choose a city and state with high vaccination rate and strict mandates for health protocols, mask up in public places even if it’s not required, meet only a few people and exclude seniors even if they are relatives or loved ones, avoid indoor crowded places and stay in a stringent hotel with a good reputation in enforcing pandemic regulations. After ticking all these boxes which seemed like an impossible puzzle, we found ourselves comfortably and confidently navigating our way to San Francisco, California!
It was my second time in the golden city, yet the last time I was there was 14 years ago, so everything seemed fresh. We made sure to visit all our ‘must see’ spots – Golden Gate Bridge, Palace of Fine Arts, Fisherman’s Wharf, Twin Peaks, Dolores Park, Castro District, Japantown, Chinatown and Crookedest; and tick our ‘must do’ activities – ride the cable car, do a city tour through a hop-on hop-off bus, dine in a Michelin star restaurant, eat at Jollibee and In-N-Out, have a hot choco at Ghirardelli and clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf, rent a car and drive to Monterey and Silicon Valley, spend a day at Napa and Sonoma’s vineyards and watch the sea lions at Pier 39.
The week flew by as we enjoyed every second of it. More importantly, we felt safe after experiencing the city’s strict enforcement of health protocols firsthand – mandatory wearing of face covering inflight and indoors, proof of vaccination and ID requirement for indoor dining, practice of physical distancing, encouragement in opting for contactless transactions and closure of some places or not operating in full capacity if deemed as a potential health hazard. Our movement may appear to be very restricted, yet with the rising COVID-19 cases still true here in the US, it is better to embrace these rules as we take the path filled with calculated risks.
I’m sharing this with you to spark a glimmer of hope – regardless of what you see on the horizon, we will overcome this global challenge and shall again enjoy what we’ve loved to do pre-pandemic, including leisure travel. Continue to be faithful in keeping a positive mindset and doing your part to become a bearer of the solution. And keep your head up, our new beginning is now waving!