Sunday, July 4, 2010

San Francisco, CA

After our day in Sonoma, we headed back to San Francisco to meet up with my great-aunt Margaret. She lives in Menlo Park, CA, which is just south of San Fran. It had been 10 years since I'd last seen her so I was excited for the time to visit with her. I have actually only seen her 4 times during my life, but still feel connected to her. She has done a great job staying in contact with phone calls, letters, and emails. When I was 6, I went to California with my parents. My dad and mom had a business meeting to attend, so they left me with my Aunt Margaret for a couple of days. I still remember that trip well and all of the fun we had together. She loves to reminisce with me about that trip as well and tell me how "cute" I was as a small child. Who wouldn't want to hear that kind of praise?!? She rode the Bart, aka subway, into San Francisco to meet up with us. I found that to be impressive since she is 80 years old.
Aunt M and my Mom.

Aunt M treated us to dinner at Fisherman's Wharf. I stuck to chicken since I am not a fan of seafood, but everyone else raved about their fish. After dinner, we treated her to dessert in Ghirardelli square. As a self-proclaimed lover of chocolate, I would have been just as satisfied if she would have taken us here for dinner! Jordan and I getting ready to enter heaven!

Can you say yum?!?! Here, we have a banana fudge sundae, a dish of Ghirardelli chocolate ice cream, a brownie fudge sundae, and a strawberry fudge sundae.

Inside the store, you can view the heavenly chocolate being made right before your very own eyes. Don't you just want to put your finger in it and have a little taste?

Day 2 in San Francisco was dedicated to baseball. We started out the day with breakfast at Lefty O'Douls in Union Square. The restaurant is named after famous major league player/coach, Francis Joseph "Lefty" O'Doul. He was a famous left handed pitcher. As you can probably guess, this selection for breakfast was made by my dad. The food was good and it was fun to look at all of the baseball memorabilia on the walls.

After breakfast, we headed over to AT&T Park to take in a Giants and Dodgers game. AT&T Park is actually listed in the book as a must see, and after walking through the front gates, I could see why. This place was amazing!

The park overlooks the McCovey Cove. They actually keep a record of "Splash Hits." I was hoping to see a home run hit into the water, but only got to see a foul ball. I thought tailgating on a boat sounded fun!

Just having some fun inside the park!

As you can probably tell, it was a beautiful day for baseball!
We made a pit stop at a 4 story GAP after the game. The GAP headquarters is located in San Fran. And of course, I had to make a small purchase to document the occasion. And then we headed back to the hotel in Japantown for some rest. Even the street signs are in Japanese.

After a little resting, we decided to spend our last night in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Bridge. You can walk all the way across the bridge, but we settled for the half way point because it was a little chilly by this time in the day.

A view of San Francisco from the bridge.

Jordan enjoying the view.
Oh, California, I will miss you!

Quote of the Day: "I didn't realize there would be so many hills!"--Mom
Explanation: We decided to walk the 1.3 miles from Union Square back to our hotel instead of taking a bus. Jordan and I checked with our parents first to make sure they were okay with that distance. They both eagerly replied with, "We walk that distance all of the time at home!" .5 miles later, we were all out of breath...

Sonoma, CA

If you know me well, then their is a large chance you also know I am a huge fan of wine. When my parents asked me what I wanted to do on our trip to Cali, visiting a winery was my top pick. We didn't have time to visit true Wine Country, Napa Valley, so we settled for a close second. Sonoma vineyards are known for producing Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. They have over 250 wineries to chose from. Deciding which one to visit was an overwhelming task so I turned to my trusty book to decide. The book suggested visiting Buena Vista Winery.

It was established in 1857 and was one of the first wineries in California to plant the European vinifera varieties. Translation: they took common grape vines from Europe and planted them in California. I visited Buena Vista's website and even made a phone call as part of my research before deciding on this location. And I must unhappily report that my book failed me for the first time! I am assuming the location is listed as one of the must sees before you die because of its origin. Buena Vista's website lists wine tastings for $10, which is a bargain. But it didn't say anything about tours, so I made a phone call. The gentleman on the phone informed me they have self-guided tours. This worked for me since I have toured wineries before and was more interested in walking around the grounds than hearing how wine is produced. Upon arriving to the winery, we were all eager to get started. The drive up to Sonoma was beautiful and from what we had seen so far, the property Buena Vista was located on was gorgeous. We made the 1/4 mile trek up to the front entrance. Around the main entrance they had picnic tables and several signs with information to read about the history of the winery. We tried to walk around the property, but everywhere we turned was blocked off with signs that read "employees only." So, I went inside to speak to someone. I was then informed that the signs located right outside was what they considered the "self-guided" tour and you couldn't actually walk around the grounds. But you could pay $10, sit inside, and drink some wine at their bar. I was disappointed...I could do that at home. The guy could sense the disappointment in my voice and was kind enough to suggest a different winery up the road, so that's where we went.
Up the road to Benziger family winery.

This place was a pleasant surprise. It was beautiful, gave a very detailed 30-45 min. tour of the grounds, allowed 4 wine samples, and only cost $15. They are also a Certified Sustainable Biodynamic winery. What's that you might ask? In short, they use all environmentally sound growing methods to produce their wines. Biodynamics is the highest level of organic farming. They avoid using synthetic chemicals on their vines and use all natural methods to control insects and to maintain the health of their soil. The staff was incredibly informative and the wine was so good I brought some home with me.
One the way back to our hotel, we spotted this little diamond. I couldn't help but wonder if I could have scored some free wine since I share it's namesake. Dang! I hate missed opportunities!
Quote of the Day: "I'm sure people get crocked up here!"--Dad
Translation: "I'm sure people get s*** faced up here!"