Friday, October 26, 2012

Napa Valley California

Sunday October 14th 2012

Who can be in wine country without going to Napa Valley and visiting a few wineries, not me. 


Another warm sunny day perfect for doing some sightseeing.  Miles and miles of grapes vines, in Minnesota we have corn fields, I like the grapes way more then the corn.

V. Sattue winery is a small family owned winery operated by the fourth generation Sattui family.  They have been operating since 1885. 

PA140361 Sterling Vineyards Sterling Vineyards

The grounds at all the wineries were landscaped to the T.  Flowers and topiaries everywhere.  We spent most of time walking the grounds at the wineries.  Tours of the cellars at most of them are between $25.00 to $125.00 and you pay for the tasting of the wines. 


There was no charge to see the cellar at V Sattui. 

PA140352 PA140363

What a setting for a picnic, many of the wineries have picnic areas, some let you bring in food others you have to buy there’s.

Napa Valley PA140365 

Our second stop of the day was Beringer Vineyards.  We stopped at vineyards that we have actually drank their wines, made it a little more interesting.  I know many of you are thinking we could have stopped at them all because we probley have tasted most of the wines, not true.  

A little wine and cheese Beringer Vineyards PA140376 Beringer Vineyards

We had a little wine and cheese while watching the dancers and listening to the band.  We spent some enjoyable time here, talking with the people.  Beringer’s allows you to bring your own food for your picnic, nice place.

PA140394 PA140369 PA140397

Once again the beautiful landscaping, it’s a place you would love to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Next was lunch at the Culinary Institute of America, built in 1889.

Cullinary Institute of America Kitchen CiA

The castle looking exterior is a contrast to the modern interior with it’s gleaming kitchens.

PA140411 PA140414 After Lunch

I don’t care where you are in Napa Valley the views are amazing. 

For lunch we split an order of mussels in white wine sauce that was to die for.

PA140489 Castello Di Amorosa

The final stop of the day was an authentic looking 13th century Tuscan castle and winery, built in 1993.  121,000 square feet includes 107 rooms on 8 levels, 4 below ground, 900 feet of caves, a draw bridge and moat, dungeon and torture chamber.  We did go inside the castle, we did not take the tour which was $35.00 and up per person.  What we saw was very limited without paying. 


The draw bridge.

Castle Winery PA140448 

Once again just walking the grounds was to cool, love the barrels.

PA140451   PA140460  PA140466    

What fun to see the farm animals running around.  Families with children were a big thing at the wineries.  Each place seemed to have something fun for the kids.   


My favorite chicken.  Love his long feathers on his feet.

It was just the best day for relaxing and fun, we took our time at each vineyard to enjoy what they had to offer.

Fun on the road.            

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hop on Hop off Bus Ride

Friday October 12th 2012

When we explore a new city we like to take a bus tour first, the red hop on hop off buses are perfect to get to know the city.  We have done this in Rome, Paris, and many other large cities in Europe and the US.  You get the lay out of the town, and pick places you want to spend more time exploring. 


It was our first cold, cloudy, foggy, drizzly day in San Francisco.  I started out sitting in the open air on the top of the bus but after a few miles I got cold and went inside to warm up and pretty much stated there. 

PA100270 Union Square 

Not sure the name of the green building but I loved it.  Union Square with Saks Fifth Ave and Tiffany's in the back ground, two of my favorite stores.  


If your feeling like a dare devil you can rent a little Go Car and bop around town.  You get fitted for a helmet to go with it, makes me feel much  better.


City Hall, and the Louis M Davies Symphony Hall.

The city hall building looks more like a state capital building.

DSC_0137 PA110296 Golden Gate Bridge

Everyone has to go see the Golden Gate Bridge when in San Francisco, it happened to be the 75th anniversary of the bridge.  We drove over the bridge on the red bus and got off and walked a bit, just to say we did it.


That is one large cable. 

We drove thru the Tenderlion District, which they recommended tourist stay out of.  Haight Ashbury is another neighborhood with a colorful past and still a great place to visit.  Golden gate Park has so much to off with museums and the Japanese Tea Garden.  Nob Hill was another area we drove through.   The tour took 3 or 4 hours with getting off and on. 

The tour started and ended at Pier 39 a large tourist attraction.  After our bus ride we stopped at Pier 39 for a late lunch at Market Pier Cafe. Lunch was wonderful, Mike had clam Chowder in a sour dough bread bowl and I had Cioppino is a fish stew, with dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and the catch of the day. It was to die for. 

  DSC_0181Pier Market San Fransico


What a surprise to see a huge merry go-round on the pier.  We did a little more walking on the pier and watched the street performers. 

It was getting late and we wanted to home before 8pm so we hopped on a bus back to the BART station to catch our train back to the MH.

Another wonder full day filled with fun and love.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Our First Day In San Fransico

Wednesday October 10th 2012

We are staying at the Fairgrounds in Antioch CA for 2 weeks, just a parking lot with full hooks for $17.00 a day.  It is about 30 miles north of San Francisco. We will be taking BART (Bay Area Rapid Transportation) into town, just a couple of bucks, no hassle, no finding and paying for parking.  It is about an hour each way, but it was a nice time to sit back relax and read a book. 

Mike’s younger brother Owen has lived in San Fran. for many years, it has been about 15 years since we last saw him.  Owen met us at the BART station in town, and we spent the day having a personal tour guide. 

Walking San Francisco may not be easy with all the hills and stairs, but we managed to keep up with Owen. 

We left the BART station and headed to Union Square.

Mike and Owen in Union Square

Mike and his brother Owen.

China town CalifDSC_0015China Town San Fransico

China Town

From Union Square we walked to China Town, a very hopping place, lots of people. 


The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest building in San Francisco and one of its most iconic. Although the building no longer houses the headquarters of the Transamerica Corporation, it is still strongly associated with the company and is depicted in the company's logo.   It is 850 feet tall, upon completion in 1972 it was among the five tallest buildings in the world.

The tower has no public access except for the first floor lobby, thus visitors cannot go to the top for a panoramic view.

A few statics on the building,Transamerica Pyramid 


St. Peter and Paul churchSan FranSt Peter and Paul Church San FransicoSt Peter and Paul ChurchSts Peter and Paul Church

Saints Peter and Paul Parish in the neighborhood of North Beachand across the street from Washington Square.  A beautiful church inside and out, the church has some of the most beautiful stained glass I have ever seen.

From here we walked to up Telegraph Hill to Coit Towner, I think Owen was testing us to see how much stamina we have.  Not once did I break down and whine. Of course I new we would stop at the end of the day and have a glass of wine. 

PA100241 PA100242 PA100246

The Coit Tower is built on top of the 285ft high Telegraph Hill, which is situated between Fisherman's Wharf and the Financial District. In 1850, a pole with movable arms on top of the hill was used as a signaling station. The wooden arms were adjusted to signal the incoming of ships. In 1853 it was replaced by an electric telegraph station, hence the hill's name.

Coit TowerMurals in Coit Tower Coit Tower, San Francisco

The Coit Tower was built in 1933 with funds from Lillie Hitchcock Coit. She was an eccentric who was best known for her support of the local firemen. When she died, she left one third of her fortune for the beautification of the city. The result was the Coit Tower, which is both a memorial for Lillie Hitchcock Coit and for the San Francisco firemen.

Murals in Coit Tower PA100254

The interior of the tower has a number of murals, most of them depicting life in California during the Great Depression. The murals are the result of a project that was part of the so-called 'New Deal' in which the federal government initiated a large number of projects aimed at creating as many jobs as possible for the unemployed

In total 25 painters and 19 assistants worked on the project, which shows - among many other scenes - a bank robbery, a scene from the harbor and a look into a department store. At the time several of the murals caused controversy as they were deemed too left wing. Thanks to their historic significance the murals are now protected as a historical treasure.

Alcatraz PA100264

At the top of the Coit tower is an observation platform with spectacular 360° views over San Francisco.  Alcatraz Prison and Pier 39. 

That was enough sightseeing for one day, we stopped for a glass of wine in the Italian neighborhood, from there hopped on a bus back to the BART station.  Thanked Owen for a great day.