California 2005, Part I: San Francisco - Napa Valley

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August 14th 2005
Published: October 11th 2006
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California Part I

San Francisco - Napa - Copia - Niebaum Coppola - Sterling - Napa

California was great. I'm such a fan of northern California. It's incredibly laid back and oh so very quaint. We both began and ended our trip in San Francisco, a city that I would go back and visit today if I could. After a long, but enjoyable flight, we got to California late at night; that in itself was spectacular. All I could see for the longest time were dots of light in the hills from all the surrounding homes and whatnot and black water below. It was like landing in outerspace where all you could see were stars. Once we landed, we waited in line for what seemed like an eternity to get our rental car. By time we got the car, all of us were extremely tired and just went to our first hotel. The next morning, we were supposed to go to Napa Valley right away but instead decided to hang around San Fran a bit more and catch a Giants game (the 'stros were in town). I didn't watch much of the game; instead I walked around looking at the Bay and the harbor below, as well as all the dogs in the stadium since it was Dog Days or something.

It was quite humorous. We cut out of the game a bit early, and headed inland across the Bay Bridge (a few times) on the 101, making a stop to photograph the bridge and Alcatraz. As we headed east from the shore, it became incredibly hot. I was excited. Napa Valley was closer to San Fracisco than I expected, but a completely different surrounding though just as lovely. You could definitely feel a different atmosphere in the wine country. True--San Fracisco is no New York, but even San Fran seemed to have New York's energy level compared to Napa Valley. It was so chill. It also has sort of a barren beauty to it, where the occasional vineyard driving into Napa is incredibly noticeable against the back brush. It makes it look really refined, with the perfect green rows of grape trees roped off at 90degree angles next to plant life of a flatter hue. It all fits together. Northern California just works; you'd think with the complexities of the Spanish-speaking Sonoma, the classy inns at Napa, and the granola eat student body at Stanford in the San Fran area wouldn't mesh, but they do.

We got to Napa and went to eat at this place called Celadon. It's down by the Napa Valley River Inn. It was interesting; incredibly good, but interesting. I don't think I have the cultured palate to actually fully appreciate the meal I had. - but who could blame me, a 20 year who orders cheeseburgers plain, when faced with a menu where a shamb of lamb was the most ordinary plate. Luckily, the New York Strip I had wasn't on the menu. The meal was definitely an event though, not just a time to eat. I felt like I was in the French countryside, or in Italy. It was fun.

The next morning we got up early and went to Copia, a Napa Valley wine museum of sorts complete with its own edible garden. It was real pretty, and I got to do a little wine tasting myself (shhh 😊 ). From there we went to Niebaum Coppola, Francis-Ford Coppola's very own vineyard and estate. Now that was gorgeous. I took a lot of pictures there, so be sure to check out the rest of the gallery below. After Niebaum, we went to Sterling Winery where we got a tour of an actual winery and got educated on the wine making process. That was interesting, though I don't think I'd go through that again since I'm not a wine connoisseur, yet. I will say that after sampling the wine reserves at Sterling after our tour, I like white wines better than reds by far. After looking around the Spanish estate that is Sterling a bit longer, we took the gondola back down the the bottom of the mountain and went back to Napa to grab some dinner at Downtown Joe's, where we saw the most hilarious family playing down by the river. There was this boy that was like a cat-boy, crouching around the park area, behind piles of grass and other vegetation (with the same vegetation all over his body as well), jumping out at anyone who passed. Actually, it was more like pouncing. When the rest of the clan came to retrieve the boy, there were other children climbing the rails of the 3rd Street bridge, and the mother-like character of all this started to kind of dance and move. What was the most hilarious though was, amidst all the quirkiness, two grown men, holding hands, and skipping gaily through the park! I felt like I was in a Dr. Suess book haha!

So Napa Valley: Awesome in my book. I might just wait til I'm on a little bit older to appreciate it more the next time I return.

Additional photos below
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Day 2

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