SF diaries, #03/2022 – Very Californian! Going to Napa Valley, watching football, and sunsets at the beach

When I started this weekly Expat Diary at the beginning of 2022, I had no idea I would basically spend the first two weeks of the year at home and therefore wouldn’t have anything to talk about. While I have to say I haven’t been as much out and about as I used to be in Singapore ever since we moved to the States, I still had a regular date night with Daniel or a friend; at least once a week. But for some reason, this year has started slower than any other year in the last decade, and I am afraid this might be boring to read. It will get better, I promise.

I wonder if my anti-social behavior, aka staying most at home, has anything to do with the current Covid-19 surge, or if it’s just the January blues that hit me. After all, San Francisco. is known to be pricey, but I had no idea HOW expensive it was. I have to write a dedicated post on that, similar to what I’ve done in Singapore. Or –maybe–better not? I don’t know whether I am ready to see the amount of money we spend on ridiculous things. In that regard, I just had a chat with a fellow German expat who’s been living here for a couple of years already and tried to ship a few boxes from her hometown in Germany to the US. Due to the pandemic, the shortage in labor, shipping, freight, and basically everything, prices have not only doubled, they exploded! For a simple FedEx or DHL package that would usually cost you about 50 euros to ship internationally, there is only “premium service” available at the moment, which is pretty much business class for stuff. Well, great.

It’s the same story with restaurants and bars here in San Francisco, as they all have to cover the increasing prices of food and ingredients, but also need to compensate for staff shortages and health coverage. This means whenever we decide to go out to a restaurant, we’re not only encountering incredible prices for the food (e.g. $25 for a simple noodle dish, plus tax), but there is also the expected 20% tip, plus mandates to help workers with their health insurance, or San Francisco on its recovery after the pandemic (“SF health mandate”, “SF recovery tax”). Which brings your total bill to a sum that no one in this city seriously can be able to spend on a regular basis?! No wonder, there has been a massive expat exodus within the last 20 months. And even we––after just moving to San Francisco in September––are already considering moving out of the city after our lease ends, as it just doesn’t seem to be worth all the money… unfortunately. But well, it’s too early to talk about that and as long as we’re here, we want to explore San Francisco as well as we can, which is why it’s a shame we have spent almost the entire first month of the year at home.

However, that aside, we finally started the week with something fun. Since Monday was a holiday (Martin Luther King Day) here in the States, Daniel was off from work and we spent the day in NorCal’s Wine Country. I wrote a separate Travel Diary post on our first wine tasting experience in Napa Valley. Although even a simple wine tasting comes at its cost––I ranted about it on my Instagram account the other day––we had an exciting day and ended up signing for a wine membership, which means, we might go to Napa more often in the future.

On another positive note, this week, our bed has finally arrived. To give you a heads up, we have ordered this on the 24th of September, picking a color that was supposed to ship immediately e.g. within a week. After a couple of postponed shipment dates, and some further research on other furniture brands, we had no other option but to stick with the bed (#shortage…, you know). Hence, when I received a message at the beginning of the week that I could schedule the delivery day, I couldn’t quite trust my eyes. I actually couldn’t believe it until the second it was delivered AND built up in our bedroom. And now it’s here. With the balcony chairs that I had ordered recently, our apartment is almost complete now. It’s. a great feeling to be surrounded with your own things and actual furniture, I can tell you. To celebrate that, Daniel and I went out for a drink in a bar in our neighborhood that we just discovered the week before. It still amazes me, how we can easily walk into a bar, sit at the counter, check-in with the bartender, and don’t worry about any check-in QR codes, reservations, curfew, blocked seats, or social distancing ambassadors patroling… and I appreciate it so much, since it’s just way easier to get in contact with people or be sociable that way.

I also finally made it to the hairdresser. And while this is usually nothing I would mention in this diary, it was certainly a major milestone to cross for me, since, a. it’s always a challenge to find new places to go to when moving abroad–such as hairdressers, doctors, or any sort of normal things one has to grow on in a familiar environment–and b. because hair salons tend to be very expensive here, such as everything. I was very lucky, though, to find a lovely salon with an apprentice who would take me in as a color model. And while I spent a long time at the salon on Friday, I left it feeling not only very well taken care of, but also finally like myself again.

The weekend ended the week the way I always had imagined life in California to be. Me, myself, and my #californized hair were eager to go out, and while Daniel watched football, I finally got to hang out with my friends again. On Sunday, we went on a hike (they say you’re only considered a Bay Area person when you go hiking all the time), and capped off the weekend with a lovely picnic at the beach, watching the sunset. It was mild all week, and very sunny, and while it certainly got chilly after sunset, I was amazed that we could actually enjoy the beach in January at all. On our way home, Daniel and I both agreed that life in California certainly has a higher quality, than everywhere we have lived before, and we are so excited about what’s next to come in 2022. So here’s to an amazing new year ahead in California. Until next week!


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