Vineyards to cable cars
[San Francisco, CA]
The castle winery that captured our imagination the day before did not disappoint. It was a bona-fide 13th century Tuscan castle complete with drawbridges, towers and a moat! 14 years in the making, it was a dream come true from a 4-th generation wine maker from the Sattui family, whose original vineyard we visited the day before. We toured the lovely courtyard, passed by a gigantic dining room with hand-painted murals on the wall, and walked to a gift shop downstairs, and from that little bit of walking around, we felt like we were in medieval Europe, not in Napa. It was definitely worth a stop, and next time I would love to do the castle tour, which takes your through a lot more of the property.
Next up was our final destination on this grand California trip – San Francisco!
Thanks to Chris’ recommendations, we visited Marin Headlands first, on the north side just across the Golden Gate Bridge. We got great views of the bridge and the city from there, especially since it was sunny and hot – there was no sign of the fog that this city is so infamous for. Chris offered another interesting tid bit – the color of the Golden Gate bridge is entirely an accident! The bridge’s color is actually due to paint primer. It was supposed to be painted over with a different color but someone liked the rusty red so much that they left it like that.
Next up, we drove across the Golden Gate bridge into San Francisco, then drove through the Presidio – a park and a former military base – then parked at Lands End, another park within the Golden Gate Bridge recreation area. We met up with Chris there, who took us on a short trial that allowed us to see the Golden Gate bridge from the west side. After a customary beer stop at a cafe overlooking the cliffs and the ocean, we drove through Golden Gate park, which was much bigger than I thought. Part of it seemed already blocked off for the upcoming Bay to Breakers – a San Francisco classic. This 7.5 mile-race takes you through the entire city from the Bay Bridge to the western end of Golden Gate park, and often features people in crazy costumes.
My parents were already in awe of the beauty of this city, but nothing compared to their experience on the world-famous San Francisco cable car. We took the Powell-Hyde car from the corner of Lombard and Hyde, where the crooked part of Lombard is. It was quite the adventure right from the start – a very steep 4-block uphill walk from the hotel to the cable car stop. But we persevered, and the reward consisted of our first views of Coit Tower and the Bay bridge.
The intersection was heavy with both foot and car traffic, and we couldn’t even get on the very first cable car that went by because it was already full. But it worked out, because the second car featured a very entertaining cable car operator. He half-sang all the attractions we passed in-between starting and stopping the car using the levers in the middle – in fact, the San Francisco cable cars are the world’s last manually operated ones.
We got off at Union square, which is famous for the statue of Liberty in the middle and the fantastic shopping surrounding it. A few blocks away was our dinner spot – my parents’ very first experience with Indian cuisine at a place called Little Delhi. I played food tour guide for the first time, which was actually quite fun. And my parents loved the “regular size” Indian beer – a full 22 oz! We took the cable car back home but this time got on the very first stop, so we got to see how they turn the cable car on the turntable.
It was hard to believe we started off our day among vineyards and castles, and ended it in the hustle and bustle of California’s most iconic city. We still have lots to see but only a couple of days left!