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Thursday, February 28, 2013

I LOVE San Francisco, Day 1

Saturday morning, we drove back to San Francisco from Napa Valley. I was sad to leave Napa but was excited to explore San Francisco. I learned not to say "San Fran" or else the locals will laugh at you and know you are a tourist. 

Our hotel in San Francisco this time around was a million times better than the first night. We checked in to the Harbor Court Hotel which was in the financial district. This hotel was fabulous and I absolutely recommend staying here. Pay the extra money and stay in a Bay view room. You'll wake up to the best view (see picture below)! The staff was very helpful and friendly. There is a nightly complimentary wine hour from 5-6pm where the manager chooses his/her favorite wines and local beers for their guests to enjoy. Also, at 9pm they put out complimentary fresh chocolate chip cookies and milk. You better believe we were the first in line for both of these each night, ha! 

Bare with me because we did a LOT on our first day there. Again, the weather was perfect. It was 65 degrees and sunny. Nights were always cold no matter how warm the weather was during the day. Our hotel was only a couple miles from all of the tourist places so we walked everywhere, which saved us a lot of money!

First, we walked through the local farmer's market. There were so many local, organic items to choose from. If I lived close by, I would go there every weekend!
*I made a mistake by wearing that purse. If you are doing a lot of walking, wear a cross-body bag or a backpack. My shoulder was killing me by the end of the day.*

Next, we walked to Pier 39 and each ate clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl - delicious!! This is a MUST while you are in San Francisco. We hopped aboard a tour boat and sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge (more pictures of the bridge tomorrow) and around Alcatraz which also gave us a beautiful view of San Francisco from the water. At Pier 39 there are a ton of seal's LOVING life!

After our tour, we walked through Fisherman's Wharf. There was a lot of activity there. People all over were cooking dungeness crab that you could buy in any way, shape, or form. We didn't partake. I LOVE crab legs but I don't think I could eat the entire thing...yuuuck.


There were tons of street performers along our walk. They were all really good and fun to watch!

We stopped by the beach and I put my fingers in the freezing cold Pacific Ocean. The view was amazing!

Our next stop: Lombard Street. Lombard Street has 8 sharp turns within one block. This was so crazy to see in person!  
Side note: when visiting Lombard Street take the Hyde Street cable car. We decided to walk there and the walk is straight uphill!

At this point, we decided to call it a day and walk back to the hotel for wine/beer hour. 

We had a Groupon to eat at Fisherman's Grotto at Fisherman's Wharf. We decided to take a bike taxi there because we were so tired of walking. Fisherman's Grotto is a tourist trap. Don't go there. We only went there because we had the Groupon but we both were disappointed in the food & service. Do some research and find a local seafood restaurant. It'll be worth it.


We made it back to our hotel just in time for cookies and milk. This is the view outside our hotel at night. Gorgeous! 

San Francisco, Day 2 - tomorrow!
LOVE, sje

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I LOVE "what not to wear to a winery"

While I was in Napa, I learned "what not to wear to a winery." Luckily, I didn't break any of these rules but a lot of people do so I figured I would pass on the information. This was brought up so many times on the trip by many different people so I knew I had to write a post about it!

What not to wear to a winery

You would think that was common knowledge, right?
I found out that it wasn't!
LOVE, sje

I LOVE Napa Valley, Day 2

We woke up Friday morning, drank our usual Starbucks, walked around downtown Napa for a while then headed back into wine country.

Again, the weather was perfect. 70 degree's and sunny!

Our first stop was at the Miner Family Winery. This is another MUST (ask for Cory)! Cory is one of Michael's friends from high school. After he heard we were vacationing there he immediately invited us to visit Miner Family Winery where he works. He was a wonderful host. He gave us a tour of the winery and the wine caves then allowed us to taste some delicious wine. The wine cave tour was amazing. I was surprised at how large it was and how many barrels of wine it could hold. That night, they were having a party in the wine cave...how cool?! Miner sits on top of a hill so the view is incredible. They absolutely had the best view out of all the winery's we went to.

Next, we stopped at Robert Sinskey Vineyards. Their tasting was inexpensive and they provided a cheese plate, which was nice. Other than that, we didn't LOVE it. The service here was not great. The wine was okay. We felt rushed and unwelcome. Their vineyard was pretty, though!

Cory suggested that walk around a nearby town, Yountville. We took his advice and I am so glad we did! It was quaint and lovely. Yountville has a lot of restaurants and wine tasting rooms. It was a nice change of pace from going to one winery after another.

While in Yountville, we tasted Cornerstone Cellars wine. The staff was very laid back and knowledgeable. It was a different type of atmosphere compared to the actual winery's but we had a great time and their cheese plate was amazing! 

For dinner, we stayed around our Inn and ate at a local Italian Restaurant. Yes, we both still talked about that Mac & Cheese from Mustard's Grill. Again...you MUST go to Mustard's Grill.

After going to many different winery's I learned "what not to wear to a winery." I was somewhat surprised at how many people talked about this. I thought it was common sense but I guess it isn't. I know y'all are smart people and more-than-likely know what not to wear but I figured I would still share my learning's with y'all. Be on the lookout later today for my "what not to wear to a winery" post :)

LOVE, sje

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I LOVE Napa Valley, Day 1

Napa was my favorite part of the trip. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED San Francisco but there was something special about Napa that I fell in LOVE with. Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was the slower pace, maybe both...who knows?! 

We had perfect weather. During the day it was 70 degrees and sunny. It was chilly at night but that was to be expected.

For those of you who will be visiting: When you are planning which winery's to go to and you see the price of each tasting, remember, you and one other person are allowed to share a tasting. So, if you don't want to spend lots of money (or drink to much) then find someone you don't mind drinking after and share a tasting with them. I didn't know this before we went and I was so happy to find out. Thought y'all might like to know as well! 

We drove into Napa and our first tasting reservation was at Clos Du Val Winery. This was by far my favorite winery and if you go to Napa you MUST go there. There are hundred's of wineries and I am sure they are all great but, I'm telling you, this was overall the best. Ask for Becky and tell her that Michael and Sarah from Charleston, SC sent you. She'll remember us. I promise. We went on Valentine's Day so I felt it was appropriate to surprise Michael with their "Romance Package." If you go with your hunny, spend the extra money and choose the "Romance Package." Michael told me it was one of his favorite surprises from me! You get your own table, seated in the winery, with your own private tasting. A cheese and cracker plate, chocolates (filled with red wine) and red roses are included. If you go with a group of friends, do the tasting then play bocce ball (available upon request). We ran out of time so we weren't able to play bocce ball but we would have stayed there all day if we didn't have to go to another reservation. We even debated on going back the next day. It's THAT good. 

The red table is where we sat for the tasting.

Our next stop was Silenus Vintners. The Inn where we stayed in Napa gave us this tasting for free. Without their recommendation we probably wouldn't have gone there but I am glad we did. The wine was really good and the staff was friendly and inviting. 

Next, we checked into the Chablis Inn. We found a Groupon deal for the Chablis Inn, did some research, and decided to stay there. I am so glad we did. It is about 10 minutes from downtown Napa and off of the main highway. The rooms were large and clean. The bed was very comfortable. Most importantly, it was in a safe area. There was a Starbucks right across the street that we went to each morning. I am pretty sure the rates are inexpensive even if you don't have a Groupon deal. I definitely recommend the Chablis Inn!

For our Valentine's day dinner, we went to Mustard's Grill. Words can not express how much I LOVED Mustard's Grill. This is another MUST. When you are in Napa you MUST go to Mustard's Grill (make your reservation early). If you eat macaroni & cheese, you MUST order a side of macaroni & cheese. Seriously, y'all. We ordered the mac & cheese as an appetizer and LOVED it so much that we each got it as our side too. I'm not kidding, I don't care how many calories are in this dish, I could/would eat it for every meal if I could. I woke up the next morning thinking about that mac & cheese. I really wish I would have taken a picture of it. You are missing out if you don't go to Mustard's Grill!

This was the best Valentine's day that I've ever had!
LOVE, sje