Our California Adventure – Part 2

Sunflowers in the lobby of our bed and breakfast in Napa

Airport Mishaps

For all of the places we have travelled to over the years, very rarely have we had any mishaps in an airport. At most, have one of our luggage gone missing one or two times over 30 years and we’ve occasionally missed connecting flights. But none of these compares to the complete gong show of our experience in the San Francisco airport yesterday. We never could have imagined that from when we landed to when we left with our rental car it would be almost 3 hours. From luggage arriving at a different terminal to closed car rental counters. Although we may want to come to this part of California again in the future, we’ve decided never to come through the San Francisco airport again.

Rows of vines in a Napa vineyard

Wine Country

After picking up our rental car at the San Francisco airport and fighting the worst possible traffic through the city, we ended up arriving at our first bed a breakfast in the town of Napa located in the wine region of the Napa Valley. As we arrived later than we had originally planned, we were emailed instructions on how to get into the B&B which was an attractive 125-year-old house in the heart of Napa and settled in for the night. Later the next day after a great breakfast we explored the town which was easily walkable from where we were located, noticing an abundance of restaurants with wine tasting prominently advertised. Later that evening we ended up having dinner at one of these restaurants, also walking to it and not needing our car.

While we were driving into Napa yesterday, I reminisced how similar the rolling hills with abundant vineyards were to how they looked when we visited similar regions in France and Italy. Of course, France and Italy had fewer full-size pickup trucks and SUVs on the roads.

Barb and I visiting a vineyard in the Napa Valley

Exploring the Region

On the first morning when we got up for breakfast, we went outside to check out the temperature and were surprised that it was cold outside, around 11 degrees. Was the California hot temperatures that we expected never to be seen? We entered out to explore the town wearing long pants and carrying a long-sleeved pullover just in case. Our concern over the weather turned out to be unnecessary as within a few hours we had to come back to our room and change into shorts, the temperatures eventually rising above 30 degrees. Tomorrow (Saturday) it’s supposed to be almost 35 degrees.

After walking throughout the town of Napa, Barb and I did a short road trip north to the town of Calistoga which was about 50 Km away from Napa and we passed dozens of wineries along the way and non-stop rows of vinyards. As we stopped for lunch we saw how every place that served food had an extensive wine list of mostly local wines and every waiter was very knowledgeable about the nuances of each wine. We’ve only had two meals in the region so far and the quality of the food and wine have been first-rate in every respect. Barb and I have already talked about returning to Napa in the future, discussing ways of getting here without going through the San Francisco airport.

Barrels stacked up in a Napa Valley winery


Wine Tour

When one is in Napa Valley, what better way to experience the region than with a wine-tasting tour? Barb and I spent the day today (Saturday) with a small group visiting some of the local wineries, and tasting a variety of wines which included lunch at the second of three wineries. There were twelve of us in the tour, us being the only non-Americans and it was a fun way to spend the day even though it was a scorching 37 degrees. Barb and I have done winery visits and wine tasting in many other countries before coming to Napa Valley and as wine lovers, it’s always interesting to taste a variety of different local wines and hear about some of the unique variations from the people who work there. Many of these wine tours often include a visit to the production area where they make and store the wine and honestly, there’s only so much information about wine production that anyone could be interested.

Bicycle seen in downtown Napa

Tomorrow being Sunday, our fourth day in California, means that we’ll be moving on to our next destination. Barb and I have loved staying here in the town of Napa and we can see us return for future visits, likely when it’s not quite as hot as it’s been.

As always, I’ll check in again in a few days.

My photos from our California trip are now being posted on my photo website here.



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