Published: July 27th 2012July 23rd 2012
The plan for the day was to hop across the street from our hostel downtown to one of the many car rental places, rent a car and head to Muir Woods and Sonoma County for the day. The problem was the huge lineup at Hertz. We tried one of the others (Alamo I think) that claimed the car would need to be returned by 7pm. Also said that they were the ones opened the latest in the area. That was a lie. We checked out Hertz and it was a return at 9pm. They were asking $160 for the day though (including tax and insurance). We decided to call the Fisherman's Warf location of Enterprise that we had used earlier in the week and she gave a MUCH lower cost, so even taking a $10 taxi was worth it. We paid only $105 and that included taxes, insurance, AND a GPS. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE ENTERPRISE AT FISHERMAN'S WARF FOR CAR RENTALS. The staff are so nice and the car return wasn't until 11pm.
So, we got our car, set the GPS for Muir Woods and were off.
First up was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Alisa snapped shots
My mother's maiden name is Muir. We are apparently related to John Muir somewhere in our line.
while I tried to keep my eyes on the road and avoided the crazy local drivers that drove WAY over the speed limit and seem to have no patience for tourists (or people going the speed limit for that matter).
The roads as we got closer to the park were quite curvy and ran along steep sides with no guard rails. A little scary but fun too. The air just felt so much fresher and as we pulled into the parking lot, we felt we could smell the trees. We had learned how to identify Eucalyptus trees and found many on the way there, plus could smell them. So refreshing.
The Muir Woods park itself was beautiful. For the same price as the Japanese garden ($7) it was SO worth the entrance fee. There's a main path/boardwalk that is completely paved or with wooden planks along the way. Alisa and I ventured off this path a little bit and tried another trail so that we could get away from all the people and hug a few trees... literally. Alisa had wanted to see the trees so badly and we both just wanted some good pics of us with
All together we were probably hiking around for about 2.5 hours? Such beautiful scenary.
From there, it was nice to have the GPS to send us over towards Sonoma County for some wine tasting. We debated between Sonoma and Napa a little bit but Sonoma was so much closer and we'd heard great things about it. We parked downtown and walked around the square. We did a bit of shopping and then went in search of some wine tasting. I couldn't remember if "Ben the Bachelor" from the TV reality show Bachelor and Bachelorette owned a winery in Sonoma or Napa but I hadn't thought much more about it until another person mentioned Ben's winery as well as recommending a nice place owned by a couple (He did NOT really recommend Ben's winery, saying it only had one good wine). haha.
We went to the one owned by the couple first. It's called Bryter Estates
and I HIGHLY recommend it. The woman working there was SO professional, knowledgable and sweet. It was clear that she loves her job and believes in the small winery. Alisa did her tasting here but I had decided I would
wait for Ben the Bachelor's wine at "Envolve". Despite this choice, the woman at Bryter's said that she'd give me some of the sparkling wine as she wanted me to have a chance at "the good stuff" before I went over to the other. This was the second comment we'd gotten about the quality of Envolve's wine and I started to think maybe he was a bit of a joke with the other wineries... or perhaps they were a little jealous of the popularity that the show brought Ben's winery.
Alisa found a favourite at Bryters. She bought the wine and the wonderful woman working there recommended a great restaurant for dinner and even went as far as making reservations for us! Wonderful place. Would return. Highly recommend.
Next, we head next door to Envolve Winery
. I have to be honest. This was NOT the great experience we'd had at Bryter. First of all, the girls working there were far more interested in chatting about their upcoming Las Vegas trip than actually serving us. The girls were young (later found out that the ones that work there are all the owners' sisters) and not as knowledgable as the
woman at Bryters. The thing that bothered me the most was that they used the same glass with each sample that I did which is totally wrong considering the tastes should not blend! It just didn't feel as friendly or professional. The only time the girl had an actual conversation with us was when I asked about Ben. Her brother is one of the other owners so she's known Ben since she was little and can't believe he's a celebrity. She said she didn't watch the show except to see the girl he chose and wasn't sure why he picked her (neither were any of the viewers!) and said they're still together but Courtney is very socially awkward. Yep, she was like that on the show too. Anyways, overall, if you're looking for a wine tasting, go to Bryters.
Dinner was at a restaurant called "The Girl and the Fig"
. It was SOOOO good. The atmosphere and service and food were all great! All the foods are local and fresh. They have cheeses that they make themselves. Alisa ordered the salmon. I got a burger with bacon, blue cheese, and an egg. AMAZING! One of the best burgers I
have ever had. The french fries were cut really thin too and seasoned with some amazing herb. Oh man. I was SOOO full but SOOO satisfied. I even packed the fries to go and ate them cold later that night, THAT'S how good they were!
After dinner we made our way back across the Golden Gate Bridge and into San Francisco. We dropped off the car and took a taxi back to the hostel. Alisa said it was her favourite day of our trip. I would have to agree. It was just so nice to get out of the city, enjoy some nature and some amazing food, scenary, and company. Hard to believe our trip was coming to an end.
There are more photos below