travel

The thing about layovers

On our way to and from Calí, Colombia, one of our layovers was in Panama City. They call themselves the gateway to the Americas, as the airport is a major hub.

I always get a tinge of sadness whenever I have a mere layover in a new city, especially when it it’s in country I’ve never been to.

You don’t have time to leave the airport because you only have a few hours. You get to know that city’s airport’s bathrooms and gate waiting areas. You learn where to find the cheapest meal in said airport. You learn if the airport has good or spotty WiFi.

What cities have I wanted to visit after having a quick airport layover?

When going to New York City during spring break with two of my girlfriends our junior year of college, we had a layover at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. It wasn’t until five years later that I got to visit the windy city. It was to run the Chicago Marathon, so naturally the whole thing was a blur. I really should properly visit Chicago again so I can actually enjoy the city — and remember what I saw!

When I was in elementary school, my mom and younger brother and I had an overnight layover in Seoul, Korea on our way to Japan. We pretty much always fly directly from Seattle to Japan when visiting relatives so this was a new experience. We spent just one night in a nearby hotel and all I remember was that my brother was probably 4 or 5 and fell asleep on the bus ride to the hotel and forgot his backpack on the bus. My mom didn’t realize until the bus had left and she frantically somehow tracked it down. I love Korean food. I think I would like Korea and would love to make more memories of it other than my brother almost losing a backpack.

I have also been to the Amsterdam airport a handful of times to and from various destinations in Europe. I’d like to actually visit Amsterdam and explore it one day. (I mean, their airport is great so I bet the outside is even better!)

It was the same thing with Panama City. Panama would be a neat place to visit, right?

Are layover cities layovers for that reason? They could be fun or interesting to visit but you are always going to visit somewhere else that is just a little bit more fun or interesting?

I’ll keep you posted.

travel

San Francisco: A quick layover story

Dolores Mission Park
Dolores Mission Park

I’m currently sitting in the SFO airport as I wait for our second flight (out of four flights to Colombia). It seems like an appropriate time to get some blogging done.

When family heard that Bryce and I planned to go into the city during our eight-hour layover in San Francisco, we received a lot of  questions like, “Are you going to have enough time?” and “Doesn’t the BART take forever?”

And now since our layover would be a little shorter due to a cancelled flight, we were even more determined to make it happen, and make the most out of our time in San Francisco. Besides, who wants to wait in a crowded, chaotic airport for six or eight hours when you could … just not?

As we exited the San Francisco airport, I noticed a really long security line of departing passengers. Even the TSA Pre-check line was pretty long.

“This makes me nervous,” I said to Bryce as I pointed to the crowds. “We’re going to have to wait in that when we come back to the airport.”

“It’s OK. We have plenty of time. And, we’ll be at a different terminal,” he replied.

We took the BART into the city and got off in The Mission where my one mission was to get bubble tea from Boba Guys. (Look them up if you have not heard of them! And, visit one of the many SF locations next time you’re here!)

It was sunny and cool, maybe in the mid 50s — perfect weather for walking around. We first walked to Dolores Mission Park because Boba Guys wasn’t opened yet. Spent some time there and then headed for Boba Guys. I love matcha and decided to switch up my order and tried their strawberry matcha milk tea with boba. (Also, I say this as if I am a frequent customer but I have only been twice … twice in the same weekend trip!) I wish we had better bubble tea options in Seattle — where the tea is made from real tea and not the powder! — but those thoughts are for another time!

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Strawberry matcha milk tea from Boba Guys

After feeling content and happy with my boba drink, we ate lunch at a chic-hipster-like restaurant where Bryce had a Cuban and I had a veggie rice bowl. (They had bananas as wallpaper in their cute bathroom so I’m pretty sure that’s considered a hipster establishment, right?) It was around the corner from Boba Guys so we went for convenience’s sake, but the food was good!

We didn’t want to risk being late for our second flight so we headed back to SFO via the BART after lunch. There was a Latin band playing “Oye Como Va” as a crowd gathered and watched across the street from a farmer’s market by the BART station. It was so lively, I wished we had more time but then reminded myself that this is just a layover.

As we rode the BART back to the airport, I told Bryce I was going to “give a little prayer to Buddha” so that we’d have a non-stressful experience through the security screening at the airport. I really did not want to spend an hour waiting in line.

It was the total opposite.

From the first checkpoint where the agent checks your ticket to make sure you have TSA Pre-check (which we do,) to going through the X-ray machine and getting our carry-on bags back, it was a total of two minutes — or even less! t was such a pleasant surprise. Maybe two other passengers were around.

My prayer to Buddha worked! Or, it may just be that no one flies Southwest because this terminal we are at is only for Southwest flights.

Either way, I’d say this was a very successful San Francisco layover!