(Written from home at 8:30 P.M. on 10/26)
Our last full day in San Francisco was incredible! We rented a red convertible Mustang and drove up to Sonoma for the day to check out the wine country. The Mustang was Craig’s idea – but it was an excellent one!
We visited several wineries and did tastings. My favorite winery was the first one we visited – Seghesio. I thought the wines were tasty, and the girl who worked there was very down-to-earth and super helpful. She didn’t seem to mind at all that we were “newbies,” and showed us the ropes. We felt much more knowledgeable at the rest of the day’s stops, thanks to her.
We also visited Coppola, Gary Farrell, and Arista. We tried to go to Joseph Swan, but they only do tastings by appointment on Tuesdays. (Well, la dee DAH!!!)
The tasting experience was much the same at each winery. You go in and, for about $10-$15, they describe and give you a few sips of about 5 different wines. You drink what you like and dump what you don’t like. At each of the wineries, they started us out with a white (mostly Chardonnay, but Seghesio had a Pinot Grigio), and then proceeded with a number of reds – their “specialties.” The reds were typically Zinfandels or Pinot Noirs. The wines were good, but we didn’t buy anything. We very much enjoyed the experience, but I think I enjoyed the drive with the top down in the fall sun and the movie memorabilia at Coppola as much as anything.
We opted to not do a wine tasting at Coppola since those wines are readily available here at home in Kansas City. Instead, we ate outside on their restaurant patio – a gorgeous setting overlooking their vineyards. Just beautiful. The movie memorabilia there included the Godfather’s desk, 5 of Francis Ford Coppola’s Oscars and numerous other Golden Globes, etc., plus tons of items and photos from Apocalypse Now, a Tucker car, and lots of other fun stuff.
When we got back to San Francisco, it was about 5:30. On a whim, Craig got brave and drove the Mustang on Lombard Street, a.k.a. the “crooked street.” Craig had expressed a small bit of anxiety over driving in the city (what with all of the street cars, buses, and crazy traffic), so I was pretty excited that he decided to tackle Lombard.
Overall, a lovely day and a perfect end to a memorable trip!
About Our Accommodations, etc.:
While in San Francisco, we stayed at the Hotel Carlton. We found it by reading up in Frommer’s San Francisco 2011. It was reasonably priced (about $95/night, I think?), and the location (Nob Hill) was okay. (As I mentioned before, we did not feel comfortable when we walked south or east toward Union Square, and we were careful not to do that again after our first day.) We were central to everything in San Francisco, and anything/everything we wanted to do meant an easy walk to this bus stop or that. We did buy a 7-day Passport that allowed us to take any “Muni” (Municipal) bus, cable car, or street car in the city. This made it extremely convenient for us to get around.
The hotel was “charming.” I mean, it wasn’t overly plush, or anything – not by a longshot. When I first arrived, I really thought, “Hmm. I’m not sure I want to stay here,” and I even told Craig to hold off on unpacking. My biggest complaints (shocks) were agey carpet (just kinda yucky) and no counter space AT ALL in the bathroom. (There was just a pedestal sink in there.) There was also an icky looking sort of scuzz around the bathtub area – both in and out. Like, you know, this place is pretty old and some of this stuff needs to be replaced or updated. I would liken this to our apartment on the Plaza (if you knew us back when). Clearly, this was an old building. I think it was built in the 1930’s?? Not sure.
Well, the hotel quickly grew on us, and we happily stayed. The staff was super friendly and helpful. They answered every request quickly and with a smile. (We had them repair a breaker that was out when we arrived, had them bring extra pillows, more coffee, etc.)
The restaurant (“Saha,” known for Arab Fusion cuisine) was good for breakfast AND dinner. Dinner was pretty awesome, in fact. Each evening, there is a happy hour at 5:30, and the hotel serves wine in the lobby. During the happy hour, this man plays the organ… All funky… like the theme from “Sex and the City.” He’s pretty rockin’, believe it or not. Turns out the organ guy also works behind the front desk – cool, huh? And, last night, he helped us decide what we should order for dinner in the hotel restaurant. Good stuff.
The room was small, but adequate. I was occasionally awakened by the sounds of guests in the hall or upstairs (some guy taking a bath right above my head at 1:30 A.M.), so the walls were pretty thin. The hotel guests were mature, though… There was no “ruckus!” The bed was quite comfortable; I slept very well every night.
There were also several other restaurants and bars within walking distance, and we liked going to those, as well. Very convenient.
If you don’t mind a little “charm” in your hotel, I think you will very much enjoy the Hotel Carlton.