Food and beverage. Bob and I love are foodies! It's no lie and when we travel we are the most dedicated of foodies. A bottle of wine on the side is always a delight, especially when visiting the wine country.
Enjoying food cannot be truly appreciated if feeling guilty for the enjoyment. After 10 miles of pedaling, who has energy for guilt or worry about calories? I say this a little in jest but I've always had to watch my weight but resented not being able to enjoy travel and other good times often associated with the breaking of bread with friends because of the worry about weight gain and the health issues associated with it in my family of origin (high blood pressure and cholesterol). Just lately, my latest blood work indicated that for the first time my cholesterol was a little higher. Not so high that my doctor is concerned, but high for me. It's a family health concern so I watch it but I am convinced that choosing to ride a bike, at home or while on vacation, will help me keep my cholesterol in check.
And there are other rewards, such lovely flowers in planters that buffer alfresco dining from the sidewalk. They surrounded the area in which we ate. Fragrant and so beautiful to look at.
We probably sat at the outdoor cafe for two hours working on our bottle of wine. Our talented waiter was even able to convince us to order a chocolate ganache cake and coffee before we hit the road. With 10 miles to return, including some pretty significant uphill climbs I didn't hesitate to order dessert.
One of the things I really enjoy about getting around by bike is the opportunity to better observe the world from street level and respond spontaneously to what catches my eye. In this case, what caught our eyes was a something we had passed a few days earlier when we had been in a car. Indeed, it was an bocce ball center and restaurant. Family owned it seemed and very charming. We decided to stop and give it a closer look.
The main dining area was inside the center and had several bocce ball courts available for play. Every one was full. The young man behind the order counter said his family has owned the establishment for a number of years and that it is a labor of love. Yes, he said, usually the courts were usually full so it was best to make a reservation.
We ordered a couple of drinks (I had a Riesling) and walked out into the outdoor dining and court area. Except for the courts, the outdoor area was bricked, shaded by canopies, and had fireplaces and pots stocked with flowers. Again, the courts were full and we sat to watch the players, all large family groups it seemed. Despite the fact that it was getting late in the afternoon and we had a long ride back to San Jose, we weren't in any hurry to leave. The setting could not have felt more joyful. Tables laden down with good food and friends and family sharing a friendly drink and a game of bocce ball. This certainly felt like living. I was so glad we stopped because I felt what we were watching affirmed our decision to do the long-ish bike trip. It's the experiences and the people that you're with that really count the most in life. We never would have had stopped and seen the bocce ball center had we made the trip in the car.