A weekend of surprises

I’ve known for a month that Dan has had this past weekend planned with lots of surprises. But remember, I’m not very good with surprises. Staying true to form, I annoyingly asked day after day, “What do I need to wear?” “How far are we driving?” “Have I been there before?” “Have you been there before?” “Are you sure I’m going to like it?” Sometimes I can get Dan to crack, but this time he stayed pretty quiet. And so I relaxed…a little.

We woke up Saturday morning and got dressed for a hot day. Predicted weather for where we were going was in the 90’s, ugh. So we slathered on the sunscreen and off we went.

When I saw Dan take the exit from 580 toward Lake Merritt, I knew he had planned well. Why? Because Oakland is a beautiful, diverse city filled with so many fun and unique things to do. It also happens to be my hometown and a place I’m happy to say I was raised in.

Dan and I often walk around the lake and although we have our favorite places to eat, the Terrace Room in the Lake Merritt Hotel was always a place I had wanted to try. The architecture is beautiful and the views from the outside look spectacular. Apparently Dan was listening to me because that is where we began our day.


Floor to ceiling windows line the restaurant so you have almost a full view of the lake. We sat at one of the tables on the stage.

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We started out with these mini muffins and strawberry jam. I would go back just for these muffins alone. They were so soft and delectable.


And then we had our main courses. Dan had the Monte Cristo and I had the baked quinoa with fried eggs. Both were delicious and very reasonably priced. We will definitely be going back there.


At the end of breakfast I got to find out what was next on our agenda. I was so surprised and excited to hear that we would be going on a gondola ride! So we paid the check and headed to the Lake Chalet.

We were greeted by our gondelier, Alessandro, who is actually from Venice. He prepped the gondola making it all pretty with fresh flowers, champagne, and an assortment of cheese.


Although it was hot, the ride was very comfortable. The peaceful sounds of the water combined with Alessandro’s enchanted singing created such a relaxing time. The prosecco certainly helped with that as well, and the cheese was delicious.

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To get an idea of what the ride was like, check out this video.

When we docked we got to sit at our own little table on the pier and finish the prosecco (didn’t want to waste anything of course). It was so so nice.


If you’re in the SF Bay Area I would highly recommend checking out Gondola Servizio. Our next gondola ride will be at night, when the lake is all lit up. I think it would be so pretty.

Next up on the list of surprises was a movie at the Solano Drive Inn. The last time I had been to a drive in movie was when I was a little kid. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize how popular Saturday night would be with Monsters U playing and the line stretched back to the freeway. Assuming we wouldn’t be able to get it, we opted to get some frozen yogurt and take a dip in Dans parents pool. It was still in the 80’s at 10 pm. We will just have to go to the drive in another day.

Sunday morning we woke up early for another day of adventure. This was the only activity that I actually did know about ahead of time due to a minor glitch. An email popped up when we were FaceTiming my brother that said “iFly”. Oops. But yay! Indoor sky diving is the closet I’ll ever get to real sky diving so I was excited.

When we got to iFly in Union City I must admit, I was nervous. They make you get there an hour early but your class doesn’t actually start until 20 minutes before “flight” time. So the whole time you’re just waiting and watching everyone else fly up and down and all around with wind gushing at their faces. It looked so fun but it made me a little anxious at the same time.

Once our class started all my nerves subsided and I was excited…like all the little kids next to me.  Class was a whopping 5 minutes and then we suited up and put on our goggles, helmet, and ear plugs. And then…it was Dans turn to get nervous. Obviously, neither one of us should ever jump out of a real plane.

But the instructor was awesome. He didn’t make a big deal out of it and just told Dan to sit down, relax, and wait for his turn and if he really didn’t feel like jumping, he could sit it out. But low and behold, when Dan did jump in, he turned out to be the best in the class.

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You get two, one minute flights each. That may seem short but when you’re in a wind tunnel with 100+ MPH winds, it’s plenty of time. Overall it was exhilarating and fun and the perfect thing to do if you’re too chicken to jump out of a plane.

Thank you Dan for planning an amazing weekend that was perfectly suited to everything I would love and that we would enjoy together. I’m so lucky to have you. 30 has been the best birthday ever.

7 thoughts on “A weekend of surprises

  1. What a great birthday planner Dan is. The pics are great. In your case Elena you seem to always visit home and have a great time. Glad to see your Hubby enjoys it too. And ya stay in the plane.

  2. Pingback: Brentwood U-Pick | The Silberez Life

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