The third stop of my road trip was Napa valley. Although I also have been to Napa with my family long time ago, I really didn’t have much memory about it. Last time I went to Napa valley was only reaching the south Napa and to spend a little time to taste a little wine in Domain Carneros Winery.
This time, I made my mind to go further north and spent a night to experience more in Napa valley. I first arrived in Napa city and would spend the night in Napa River Inn. Although it’s called an “inn,” the hotel is in a historical building and decorated delicately with a classical nostalgic ambiance.
Napa River Inn locates in the Napa city center, connecting the downtown. The downtown seemed rather new to me, perhaps it was a newly established community. I must say it was not very lively, and many stores seemed to close at dusk.
My room in Napa River Inn was quite cozy. It’s not like the modern type of hotel but the warm color and floral bedding made me think of the Victorian era or the movie– Gone with the Wind. The room was of a decently spacious size.
The reason that’s called Napa River Inn was because it’s on the bank of Napa River. Some of the more luxurious rooms got a nice view of the river. The complimentary breakfast was served in a bakery store just next to the hotel lobby.
I was not sure what this machine still preserved in the middle of the bakery shop was used for originally, however, it’s an evidence that this bakery shop was a barn house many years ago. The facades of Napa River Inn are still kept in their very original appearance. I drove across the Napa city downtown toward St. Helena in the north. Since it’s January, the vineyards were empty. I imaged the scenery would be much more beautiful with ripened grapes hanging in the vineyards. Since this was supposed to be a completely relaxing trip, I only checked a guidebook for some wineries in Napa valley that might be interesting. One of them was this V. Sattui Winery. V. Sattui does not only sell wines, it also has its own marketplace to sell deli. The yard serves as a picnic ground for customers to enjoy.
Of course, a wide selection of wines are available.
The wine tasting course cost $10, which was the least expensive wine tasting course I’ve known. The wine tasting course was held in the center bar table of the wine shop and consisted of 5 different wines of your choice from a given list. The lady who served me was the 5th generation of the Sattui family. Her ancestors immigrated from Italy and started wine business in California long ago. I even found out that Castello de Amorosa, the exceptionally elegant winery with a castle which my good friend and I wanted to visit previously but didn’t make it, is also owned by the Sattui family. However, the lady told me the wine selections were very different. The wine cellar is also adopted as a petit museum, displaying the huge wine barrels, some old tools for crushing the grapes, and introduction of the Sattui family history. This Southbridge Napa Valley hotel belongs to the group of “Small and Luxury Hotels.” However, it looked very low-profile from the outside.
After leaving St. Helena, I drove across St. Helena’s downtown toward Calistoga. Actually I had no plan in Calistoga, but since it boasted the high-end wineries and spring water, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to drive by and see what it’s like.
On the way, I found this culinary school. It almost looked like Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizerdry. 😀
I also saw Beringer Winery, which was so pretty! I didn’t find the Calistoga downtown particularly special actually. The famous Calistoga Ranch is probably the most expensive resort/villa in Napa valley. It’s hidden so well in the woods that the environment wasn’t shown clearly on my GPS system. However, there’s nothing much to see. The individual villas are scattered around the hill and I read that you have to park outside after you check in, and you need to call the golf cart to be taken around. Isn’t that a bit immobile?? The last stop was Davis. I mainly visited it for sentimental reason. The downtown was still quiet because the school hadn’t started yet. The downtown generally didn’t change much but with more refined restaurants and cafes now. The Music building is perhaps the most colorful and artistic building on Davis campus. I remembered registering for piano practice room there as I didn’t own a piano in Davis. The main library was one of my favorite spots on campus. (Another was Cowell center where you get pampered when you get a bad cold. 😛 ) This statue reminded me of a guy I used to see in the library. Every time he would drop down his books on the desk then fell asleep on the pile. Ah… this reminded me of the endless study and report-writing. What a good old memory. The library remained generally the same, but I could see that much more circuit jackets and network cable jackets were installed. Now we can’t survive when getting around without a computer and network, can we? This is where students hangout for lunch time, and this is also where I saw a guy chasing his escaping bagel…
Inside the Memorial Union was the bookstore that’s like a little department store on campus where I used to hang out when I got bored. The famous (and infamous) “Starship Enterprise” building in which I got lost several times. Many of my professors’ offices were unfortunately here and it’s really a pain in the butt to find them. Oh, I remembered that the evacuation plan on the wall–someone wrote “Run!” on it…
I thought to visit the barn area, the creeks, and the woods on the campus, but I ended up not going since it was getting very windy. The winter in Davis was quite cold. Though there’s no snow in Davis, the winter time was freezing with icy sharp winds. Sometimes I had 8-o’clock class in the morning, I had to ride my bike in the cold windy winter to the class. Now I had no idea how I did it that time!
While I was at Davis and swamped by exams, projects, and reports, I wished I would graduate as soon as possible and I did manage to graduate early. My mom used to tell me that being a student was the luckiest time in life and I didn’t believe her. However, after working for several years, as much as I don’t want to admit, I miss the school times when I *only* had to deal with exams, projects, and reports.
There’s a store named “The Inconvenient Store.” I didn’t check out what “inconvenient” stuff it sells…
So, this concluded my first road trip. What’s your relaxing, busy, extravagant, or funny road trip? Please share! 🙂