Painted ladies, Twin Peaks, Napa Valley, Sonoma

Sunday was ridiculously spectacular. That is what I can say about last day in a nutshell. My original idea was to a Vertigo trip and visit some remarkable places, but as sometimes happened, my plans were changed.

Few days ago my colleague and flatmate David proposed me to join him and Jose – our technical assistent who can help you with your hardware things and some tasks related to operations area. They wanted to go to Napa Valley and David asked me if I want to come with them. I heard about some Californian vineyards, but never about Napa Valley, so I agreed. I also wanted to meet Jose more, because when I arrived he helped me to solve some initial tasks. David and Jose also proposed 10am as a time when we should start our trip. That was all right for me, because I usually wake up very early.

Before he arrived, I packed my camera, took some notes and my credit card. I had about $40 in cash, but I hoped they would accepted credit cards everywhere. David was also well prepared, he went shopping and visited farm market where he bought some fruit like Mandarin orange. He gave me a piece to taste and without the doubts it was exceptionally good.

Jose arrived on time and the first small surprise was the car he took was exceptionally big. It must consumes lots of petrol, I said, especially in San Francisco and its steep streets. He lives close to San Francisco international airport and I asked him how much he likes SF roads. Not much he replied, but I enjoyed the way how he coped with these steep streets all around.

Our first stop was a famous place called Painted ladies. While he was driving I enjoyed the streets and the atmosphere all around, especially some places were exceptionally good. There were built many Victorian houses between 1849 and 1915 in San Francisco. I think there are so typical for this city, even many of them were destroyed during the big earthquake in 1906. Jose took us to Alamo Square where you can find a row of these houses painted to very nice colors. What a wonderful surprise was when I recognized these houses from some postcards I have seen before. Jose told us some information about that place and how popular is among amateur and professional photographers. Lots of them try to make some spectacular shots of city.

We did the same and I also enjoyed the whole atmosphere. There was a girl from Hong Kong who took some pictures of me. When I finished taking of photos I asked Jose what an interesting shapy building is in front of us. He thinks it is the same shape as the inside of a washing machine. The building was The Cathedral Event Center and the construction was really impressive. I had already admired it from car.

Twin Peaks was our next step. When I hear Twin Peaks I remember a film and TV series by David Lynch. I hoped I there was not going to be anything mysterious. Twin Peaks are two very big hills in San Francisco with a spectacular views. When we were driving there Jose described us some city history and expensive places in San Francisco. Some of them looked very good, but the prices were really insane. There was also a historical street, well known thanks to a famous hippies movement. The streets were also exceptionally steeps and narrows. Jose described that car for bigger trips, with his wife they have another one for standard trips. After a while we were up to Twin Peaks lookout. I expected an amazing experience, but the superb spectaculars views exceeded my phantasy.

The first part of our trip was done and it was time to go to Napa Valley area. Jose took us through the Bay Bridge and described us his experience with another big earthquake in 1989. He is originally from the Philippines, his parents moved to the USA when he was 1 year old. In 1989 as an university student he was on the trip to school and when he was crossing the Bay Bridge the big earthquake struck the city. The damage was significant, the Bay Bridge – the most important connection between Bay Area and Oakland was damaged. In the same year there also was an important baseball match between Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. The earthquake changed plans to many people and it was really hard to travel between Bay Area and Oakland because of damaged bridge.

On our trip to Napa Valley we had series of great conversations. Jose demonstrated deeper knowledge of history of the city. We saw a road to the campus of Berkeley University and some refinery. Jose didn’t recommend us to live there. I agreed, but he probably never was in Ostrava and some of its spectacular neighborhoods. We also saw a special train which should take passenger along vineyards. We stopped at the first place where we should try some vines. The place looked interesting, there was a woman from Brazil who pour some vines for us. I always tried just a little bit, but alcohol here (beer, wine) is much stronger than in the Czech Republic. Believe or not, I was a little bit drunk after some tries.

The taste was also different than I expected, but I enjoyed it. From the list of vines there was a one which I preferred the most. Until I tried a port one. The taste was absolutely delicious. I decided to buy a whole bottle for me and my girlfriend for the celebration of her arrival in next few weeks. No matter the price was around $100 per bottle, I am sure she will like it. Jose was very nice to us and he paid tasting fees. I took some photos outside and we went to the second place.

We were exceptionally lucky because we found a parking place quite easily. There was a really beautiful large house with spectacular interiors where you should try some vine and a small building where you should go shopping, especially something to eat. Because of lunch time we bought some sandwiches. Since New Zealand I have a hand sanitizer with me almost all the time. We found it very useful at that moment because we could go directly to taste new vines. I tried maybe 5-6 various ones. On the one hand I was more drank than before, but on the other one I found port vines very tastable. I had to buy another bottle for me and Helca. Jose was a member of that vineyards so we didn’t need to pay tasting fees. His knowledge about vine was exceptional. He also bought more vines than I have seen.

Another stop was a place in Sonoma. The reason was Dilip from GoodData was there. It was good to see him there. We met his fiancée and his other friends. We tried some more vine, but I order a smaller amount. I took some photos and talked to Dilip and his friends. he asked me how I like San Francisco. He remembered Josef Pithart who didn’t like it so much. When the time came we left the place and were returning back to San Francisco. Jose decided to cross Golden Gate Bridge so we chose a little bit different way. David proposed Jose to drive up to the hill close to the bridge to observe San Francisco from above. It was amazing.

We crossed Golden Gate Bridge afterwards and continued to our apartment. Jose chose Lombard street and we cross that famous eight hairpin turn street with car. We were really appreciated and I must invite Jose on lunch. I thought Jose is very shy guy, but he is very nice, helpful and very cool man. His knowledge of vine is really exceptional. Thank you very much for this experience.

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One Response to Painted ladies, Twin Peaks, Napa Valley, Sonoma

  1. Jose says:

    Radek: Thank you for sharing. I’m glad you enjoyed the quick stops in SF and the few wineries we visited in Napa/Sonoma. The wineries we visited with David included Fleury Estate Winery (Napa), V.Sattui Winery (Napa) and Ram’s Gate Winery (Sonoma). Not only did they offer varying complexities in wines, but they also gave you different tasting experiences. Cheers! ~ jose

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