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Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

California Dreamin’

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All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I’ve been out walking for a while on a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm
If I was in LA…

Or, better yet, back in San Fran…

Yes, it was a good trip. We were there for a week, Saturday to Sunday. We started with a visit to Yosemite on Sunday, headed to Napa  and Sonoma on Monday and Tuesday, and drove into San Francisco on Wednesday, where we stayed for the rest of the trip.

People ask, “What was your favorite thing?”, which I can never answer. Too many options. But to quote Maria, these are a few of my favorite things.

  • The weather. Nothing but sun, all day, every day. Need I say more?
  • The wine. Particularly these aspects of them:
    • Interesting tours in Napa and Sonoma. Wineries with art galleries and patios where servers bring you tasting portions of their offerings. Organic wineries that give full tram tours and let you taste the grapes (very sweet). Organic wineries on beautiful grounds with hiking trails up to great views.
    • Cav wine bar in San Franciso, which may have been our favourite restaurant. The first time we went, it was because we tired of trying to stuff down dinner after having a big lunch. So we dined on wine and cheese. It was lovely. And later, we went back for a full dinner. Also lovely. Many wines by the glass, from all over, at pretty reasonable prices.
    • The taste, of course, which often surprised us with its subtlety and sophistication, particularly in the Bartholomew Park Cabernet Sauvignon and the Rodney Strong Estate Pinot Noir.
    • Not paying duty on the wine, despite bringing home double our allotment, which we declared.
  • Seeing the wild parrots of Russian Hill, who may or may not be the same flock as on Telegraph Hill. At any rate, we had read that almost no one got to see these birds, yet there they were, following us along on our walking tour of that neighorhood. (And with seeing the bear and the deer in Yosemite, and numerous birds there and in San Fran, plus all the sea lions in San Fran, it was a surprisingly wildlife-filled vacation.)
  • Great experiences for free (and not only because they were free), such as:
    • Just walking around the interesting, and very safe-feeling, neighborhoods of San Francisco, such as North Beach and the Castro, just getting a sense of the shops and the people and the atmosphere.
    • Free city walking tours, which San Francisco offers hundreds of each year. Our favorite was the City Scapes and Public spaces, which took us into the elaborate bank buildings and hidden park areas of the Financial District.
  • Experiences worth paying for, such as:
    • Alcatraz tour, where you take a boat to the island and are then free to explore it, including an introductory film and an excellent audio tour of the cells. Very well done.
    • SFMOMA, a modern art gallery that managed to balance the sublime and the ridiculous better than most.
    • Brunch at the beautiful Awanee Inn in Yosemite, apparently one of the best restaurants in the US. Certainly had some divine little desserts.
  • Listening to JD Fortune’s fantastic version of “California Dreamin'” on the ride from Napa to San Francisco.

And then there were the more “interesting” experiences that will probably make the best stories…

  • Staying across the street from, and therefore finding it impossible to avoid, the Lovelution Festival, which seemed to mainly be about young people dancing to techno music in glittery underwear… If that…
  • Our insane, high-speed taxi ride to the hilliest part of San Francisco, that morning we were running late… We ended up arriving early…
  • Getting an impossible case of the giggles upon perusing the vegetarian, yoga-themed menu of a Napa restaurant I had insisted on, feeling not quite hungry enough for meat and potatoes. But you know, those beet-roast crisps and semolina gnochis were actually, suprisingly very delicious.
  • Jamestown, our home base to Yosemite, which really still looked like an old Western town, with saloons and such, and nary a Starbucks anywhere.
  • Rasputin Records, squarely aimed at the punk and hip-hop crowd, where old-timers like me who prefer classic rock are shunted off (really, driven off by the music) to the four floor, which was accessible only by a tie-dye painted elevators operated by one of the remarkably friendly staff.

Our YouTube video of Lovelution!

Longer web page on the trip: San Francisco, Yosemite, and Napa—All in one week! (Not in that order)

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