Between keeping abreast of the world cup final, meeting up with a friend for lunch in Fremont and getting ready for the wedding in the evening, did not have much time today but to pack and get some writing and picture organization done before we caught our red-eye back to Atlanta. Next trip out is to Savannah on the Georgia coast - another place that I've visited more than 5 years ago but excited to go see what's new and happening. Stay tuned for pictures from my trip coming up over the next few days.
Managed to get out and on the road to Napa just around about noon today. As predicted, husband's flight in was pretty late followed by a late night dinner at PF Chang's and a late start from the hotel after figuring out breakfast on the go. We did the first winery we saw as we hit the main street and that was Trefethen. The drive through the rows of vines was beautiful. We did taste a progressive flight of 5 wines there that we were able to share thankfully. Then we proceeded to drive to the very last one that I thought would accept us without appointments - last in the sense along the drive. Monteleno wines (refer movie Bottle Shock) was that stop and though they don't do tours on weekends they do have tastings and we were able to head in for that as well as check out some of their surrounding garden and lake area which, in fact, they use for parties and renting out the gazebos is a good idea. By this time we were hungry and needed to do a late lunch but every restaurant we stopped had either already closed (this was close to 4pm) or had long lines. We finally did manage to find a place to eat only to learn as we drove out after tat pretty much all wineries had closed by that time or were open only because of appointments. I did wish we had made an earlier start then and taken the time to make some appointments although it wouldn't have been so relaxes a trip then. At leaf I get to tick a day at Napa off my list
Stayed in today to catch up on some writing and also do some homework on a one day visit to Napa! The husband joins me tonight for a wedding we attend day after but for tomorrow we pan to hit up Napa and do some wine country visiting. A lot of vineyards I am looking at online seem to show up as appointment only so looks like I will have very limited choices to where I can go. Besides we are not really looking for a winery tour so much as we are looking to get a taste for some good local wines. Folks have recommended the wine train but at about $100+ person I think that option only makes sense if I am there at sunlight and leave later than sundown - not a practical or possible proposition this trip. The good part is seeing that many places will let us share our tasting so we do not have to pay for both of us doing the same fleet of wines. Also depends on how much time we can make - husband has a late flight in which means a late start out, and driving over through to Napa takes some time as well. Most wineries close about 4pm so I'd be lucky I think to visit maybe 3 while there.
Today was sort of my one whole day in SFO deal so I decided to do some sight seeing in the Golden Gate Park area. One of my friends lived there and I was lucky that my accommodation was taken are of. I also saved on renting a car as I did a cab to and from the airport and did not really need one while in town as my friend lived within walking distance to the park. I have been to SFO before so I took it easy and decided to enjoy the weather and the walk - walking around is not the best mode of mobility in Atlanta. Granted the park is huge and dotted with many attractions and restaurants along the way, but it does have enough real estate on there to facilitate picnics or biker groups, etc. My pick for the day were the De Young museum, Japanese tea garden, the Conservatory of Flowers and the Botanical gardens. Had not been to any of those before. The De young museum had a great exhibit on modern artists and the gift shop was to die for. I am going to say I probably spent about 3 hours in there and still did not see everything. They have a nice cafeteria - I tend to eat onsite where possible so I don't waste time trying to find a place to eat. They have a great viewing deck that I believe is a must if you are checking it out anyway. Fantastic views of SFO in all directions. The tea garden was right next to it and made for an easy transition from the museum to the botanical gardens. You can get some nice shots at the tea garden and some unique buys but that's about as much as I found interest in while there. The botanical gardens was huge and probably wasn't the best time to visit as most of the greenery seemed to be not in full bloom yet. I did get in quite a bit of a walk though. Figured I'd catch the conservatory on my way back to home base but did not realize they closed early so missed out on it. The well-manicured lawn up front is a great sight. At this point, it was well into the evening and there were performers on the streets, people were out for some wining and dining and the cool evening breeze made the walk home pleasant.
My downtime today as I get ready to leave for San Francisco where I will meet with a dear friend and also indulge in some sight seeing so I decided to take the time to do the post I have mentioning about my sad stay at the Marriott and how the Sheraton was everything I wanted the Marriott to be but was not. I am a Marriott rewards member and so the loyalty obviously to them and booking stays at their properties. I have had exceptionally good experiences at every Marriott property I stayed in thus far so, needless to say, that is what I recommended to my friends when we decided to book our stay in LAX. The pictures and the facilities mentioned on the website for the Marriott on Sepulveda sounded great. It was close to the airport even though it did not offer shuttle and was an extended stay property which was good since we would get a little kitchenette with a fridge and microwave and coffee maker. Breakfast included, free wifi and a car rental desk on the premises were also mentioned. Well, get there late night and while the reception staff was nice to us even at that hour, the room we got was not the best. Opted for room on the first floor and closer to the office (the original reservation would be a room at the very end of the property which us 3 women did not want to take on) then wished we had not. The room was really small, especially after pulling out the sofa bed to accommodate all 3 of us sleeping, there really was no place to move. In fact, this was supposed to be a handicap friendly room but unsure how anybody with a handicap could maneuver around when three non-handicapped people are having trouble. The bathroom was huge - they could have really used that space instead to broaden the room itself. And yes, to be handicap friendly, it did not have a tub or stall but that resulted in the whole bathroom filling up with water every time we showered and we had to resort to using towels on the floor to soak up all that wetness. Again, not safe for a handicapped individual. And of course, the person upstairs was a nightmare - clearly did not sleep very much because their walking round was the last thing we heard trying to sleep and the first thing we heard before we even woke up in the morning. Plus, finding a spider crawling on the bed did not help. Breakfast in the morning was an eye opener - very below average selection of options, not at all organized, and certainly had nobody keeping track of who was eating. Did not know if half the people eating there were hotel guests or outsiders. The so called car rental on the premises did not exist - the Hertz that should have been there and would have allowed me to score some points because of the Marriott tie-up with the company was not really on the premises. In fact, they were also closed for the 4th. The staff at the hotel organized for some random third party car rental company for us. And the whole time that I had called and asked at the hotel I was assured I did not need to book in advance and I could just walk-up to the reception to request for a car. The rooms did not look anything close to the pictures online and certainly did not warrant the price point they were sold at. A review of the site on the Marriott website has yet to garner a response. I am unsure if this is a property that belongs to them or was recently taken over and not refurbished but I was terribly disappointed and definitely unhappy about having brought my friends here. The part that really tipped us over - we asked for a cab for our ride to the airport when we checked out and were told this was a company they used all the time. Along comes a yellow cab - late, filthy and discourteous. No apologies were given for driving in so late. The car had bags of trash in the front seat and the driver was trying to keep the windows open until we insisted the air conditioning be turned on. And he listened to and watched some program in his native language while trying to get us to the airport on time! Let's move on to the Sheraton now. Had an airport shuttle that brought me to the hotel in minutes. The room actually looked like the image online. No kitchenette but there was a coffee machine and restaurants in the lobby. Well planned and furnished room. Water in the room was complimentary which was not the case at the Marriott. They had a car rental on the premises where I was able to pick up and drop off a car every day for the 3 days I stayed there. And I was able to take the shuttle back over to the airport as well. I am going to have to do some serious background work before I plan to check into a Marriott again.