Bittersweet

would probably be the best way to describe last weekend - which started with my very first visitor. The first, I hope, of many.

Jody came on Thursday night. It was really nice to see someone from home - I almost missed it a little less. So when I met up with her at SFO airport the weekend was off to really great start.

As soon as we arrived at my studio after a short 30 minute BART ride from the airport we began the festivities with dinner at Osha thai, only a few blocks away.  I ordered one of my two favorites (apologies for not having a picture of the meal off-hand) seafood curry while Jody had the Pad See Ew I believe.  Feeling stuffed from the food and me tired from the long week at work, her from the long flight from D.C. you’d think we’d call it a night - but I think most know me better than that.  It had been a while since I’d had a night out so I decided to start then - curry-smelling and all.  Luckily the lounge next door served my expectations of a low-key evening perfectly.  Energy would need to be reserved this night as we were just getting started.  In the morning… Napa.

We got off to somewhat of a late start as we had planned to get to Napa around 11 or so.  Our ETA turned from 11am to 1:30pm as we suffered through a 30-45 minute wait at Avis for the rental car.  An upside to the headache, however, was the sweet grey Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder convertible we hocked from the ambiguous Asian man at the Avis counter.  With the top down we decided to make a pit-stop to the top of Lombard street, well-known for being the “crookedest street in the world.”

After the ziggy-zaggy cruise down the steep hill we headed to Napa - face to the wind.  Though some of us preferred hood.

Jody and her hood - on the way to Napa

Thanks to some great sleuthing by Jody at the brochure stand at Avis, we decided on our first vineyard - Castello de Amorosa.  The building on the vineyard is an actual castle built in the U.S. by an “eccentric” Italian winemaker who also owns V. Sattui vineyards.  We picked up tickets for a later wine-tasting/tour and found two nearby wineries for a quick wine-tasting.  Our first actual Napa wine-tasting happened at Sterling vineyards. From the ticket booth we hopped onto a small gondola that took us about a half-mile up a hill onto the main building.  Walking through the building we stopped off at three separate wine-tasting areas.  In-between each of the areas we saw and read about the processes the winery uses to produce its many thousands of barrels of wine each year.

Next up… Twomey vineyards - a small winery about a hop away from Sterling.  At only $5 per person, this was by far the cheapest tasting of the lot.  Not much there - a quaint patio, a small barrel room, and a hard-of-hearing wine-tasting pourer that tried to sell us a $100 bottle of wine by randomly wrapping one up and telling us we owed $105.  Bravo!

DSC00613 DSC00610 DSC00609 DSC00604 DSC00606

Our tour around Castello de Amorosa was amazing - definitely a must-see tour in Napa.  Though the wines were nothing special, the castle itself was well worth the $30 admission.  A few highlights of the guided tour included an authentic torture chamber in the depths of the castle along with the catacombs that held the wine barrels.  My favorite room was the Knight’s Hall.  Due to the construction of several arched pockets throughout the room, whispers from one corner of the arched wall could be heard at the diagonal corner - pretty sweet.

Castello di Amaroso Castle Knights armor Torture chamber DSC00623

Before heading back to the city, we quickly hit up another winery for the road - or something like that.  No worries though, the tours throughout the day perfectly spaced out the wine imbibation.

That night we hit up a sushi restaurant “slash” random grungey bar down the street from my house which included the essentials for a completely random sushi experience with pitchers of beer, private party booths, christmas lights and a techno DJ in the middle of the room.  Needless to say, the food tasted more like an afterthought rather than a reason for stepping food inside.  The fun, really random ambiance thought did make up for it halfway.  Finishing up our random sushi dishes we walked a few more blocks to the Starlight Room.

Located at the top of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, the Starlight Room is known more for its great view of the city than anything else.  That anything else happened to be a live band playing hits from the 60s, 70s. 80s, 90s and today with a DJ playing Eminem and Ruff Ryder in-between sets.  Though nothing could take away the view from one of the tables we chose next to a window.  As we reminisced about the home I had just left 2 months ago (though it has seemed like longer) we watched the fog roll into and over the buildings off in the distance.  Its too bad I didn’t get a picture of it.  We could almost see the cloud crawling and covering the city blocks one by one.

Two drinks later… the novelty of the  view and the 40 to 50-something clientele wained on our interests and we decided to hit up one more place before everything shut down.  A coffee shop/bar (everything in SF is a slash bar apparently) piqued our interest on the way back to my apartment.  The Sugar Cafe about 3 blocks from my house was great low-key lounge.  The large fireplace and Ikeaish atmosphere seemed like a good ending to a fun-filled day so we ended the night there - and in preparation for the long posts to follow this one to recap the rest of the weekend I will also end here until next time when I will thoroughly describe Saturday and a jaunt through Muir Woods, the Alcatraz tour, and the goings-on in the Mission district on a Saturday night.

So until next time.

Update: And before I forget, Jody is correct, but of course… we eventually found out that our rental car had a very serious flaw.  When the top was up it would incessantly beeeeeeeeeeeeep every time we stopped and then started moving again.  On the way back from Napa, in order to keep this highly annoying sound from keeping us up at night we had to drive with the top down the entire hour and a half back to the city in 40 - 45 degree temperatures (with the heat blasting of course.)

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 19th, 2008 at 2:18 am and is filed under living, personal, san francisco, site-seeing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

16 Responses to “Bittersweet”

  1. Jody Says:

    A key piece is missing…we had to drive back to SF at night, in 45 degree temps, with the top DOWN! beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

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