Sunday, June 11, 2006

a sausalito getaway

or: how to throw a surprise birthday getaway on short notice

Paul's note: Scott returns this week with a plan for a perfect night in Sausalito. Previously, Scott has written about Set, and his wife Julie (the suprisee below) has written about adventure games. Both Scott and Julie are big movie buffs, so look for future posts on that topic. Scott writes:

It was nearing the Big Day, and the plans were still tumbling in my mind. The greater features were coming together, but the details were not quite settled out. A weekend away would have been ideal. But what to do with the kids? So how about a single night instead?

But I was down to 5 days, and nothing worth visiting on the weekend wasn't already booked solid. I knew this without even checking. Ok, it had to be a single weekday evening. Bonus points for taking time away from work.

It was mid April. The six solid weeks of rain were predicted to be soon a thing of the past. The ark was beginning to show signs of descent. So we had to maximize the promised good weather. This meant coastal, or, if nothing else, a place to aimlessly mill about in the prodigal sun.

Names appeared in my head. Carmel - weather would be perfect; too far away. Half moon bay - quaint, but a little too quiet; and hellish-weekday 92 traffic. Napa, Sonoma - been there too recently; a bit of a drive. Always: The City - so much to see and do, but not maximizing the weather factor. Then it became obvious - Sausalito. Just close enough so we wouldn't be worn down by weekday traffic before we check in. Just far enough to still be a getaway.

So I made the calls. Again, the answer became obvious after one or two conversations: the Inn Above Tide. Outstanding location. Best views in Marin. A bit pricy, yes, and I'm cheap, yes, but it was just for a night.

Where to dine? So many choices in the City; could stop on the way up. But best for one-stop shopping, not to mention best to avoid parking in the City. So one call to our local blog host and another to Sushi Ran and we're set. No more planning required.

The day arrives. Still details on how to spring the surprise. Couldn't hold the suspense for long once I came home around 4 to shuttle the kids to grandma's house. "Thought we'd go out for dinner." Only surprise left was ruined when she realized her toothbrush was missing (already packed in the trunk with next day's clothes). "Ok, got me." But at least the destination was still unknown.

The forgotten sun shined on us as we drove up North, across the Golden Gate. Perfect views were confirmed as we parked at the Inn. We were greeted by excellent wine and outstanding cheeses, but we just want to stare at the profile of the city, and took the glasses out on the deck.
The staff at the Inn were impeccable. They treated us like we were the only ones there, and every single member was knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and courteous.

The room was modest, perhaps small to the wallet-mindful eye. But the view from the balcony was unbeatable. It beckoned and delayed us from our dinner reservation. Should have pushed dinner time past sunset. Mental note.

The Ran was a short walk away, in the northern half of the shopping area. As with any walk around Sausalito, we were treated to magnificent hillside vistas of charming villas clinging (tenuously, in all that rain?) to steep bluffs.

Ran is a bustling restaurant with two dining rooms and a busy sushi bar. The menu offered lots of choices, beyond the standard Maguro, Saba, etc.

Of course we had to try the Miso-glazed Black Cod. It wasn't quite Nobu, but close enough to be unimpeachable. We wished we could eat this every night. Only the wide variety of the menu kept us from ordering a second one to share. All of the sushi was super-fresh. We sampled many varieties of fresh cuts, and each were equally remarkable.

Afterwards we hit the local Aquarius-like theater down the street to take advantage of a rare movie night. By the time that was over, the sleepy village was down for the count. The Marina serenaded us for the walk back to the Inn, but little else was seen or heard.

Breakfast was an excellent collection of fruit, juices, pastries, breads, cereals and yogurt, perfectly portable back to our balcony for the best dining room with a view we could ask for. We soaked up the sun and the panorama, relaxing with the paper.

It was hard to pack up to go back to work, so we lingered a little longer than planned. We spent a few hours nosing around the quaint little shops along Bridgeway, and made sure we brought a reminder home, as is our custom. Little Freya was found in a quaint French-village-style consignment shop, and she happily joined Wilbur (San Francisco) and Pudgie (Half Moon Bay) when we all arrived home.

Less than 24 hours later, I returned to work, and Julie returned to the girls. But for those brief hours, it was wonderful to revisit one of the many diverse destinations that this wonderful Area has to offer.

Inn Above Tide: 30 El Portal, Sausalito, CA (415) 332-9535
Sushi Ran: 107 Caledonia St, Sausalito, CA (415) 332-3620