Here are some of our favourite moments spent in the delightful northern half of the republic of California:
City of SFO
The metro buzzed with life while it bathed in moonlight that evening. A tranquil sort of energy filled the air as we headed to Fisherman’s Wharf to imbibe the Christmas spirit, walk the pier, cram on all that Biscoff had to offer, and the bowl of unimaginably delicious cheesy potato chowder.
In the pallid light of day, the next morning, we paid a visit to Lombard St. aka the crooked street aka 8 sharp hairpin bends in one block!
From here, straight to the soul of San Francisco, the brightly glowing Golden Gate Bridge overpassing the pure blue waters of the bay. We set eyes on this infrastructural classic from the Marin Headlands.
Robert Mondavi and Peju Grapevines of Napa Valley
All we could see was meandering roads stretching into miles of fertile land of the dales of Napa, 400 wineries spread out over interminable properties to be precise.
#1 At Robert Mondavi’s, the elegance in the coastal red wines and blushes (try the Pinot Noir and Fumé Blanc) paired with delicatessen brie and the sprawl and vastness of the lush vineyard held us ransom before we ambled onto our next round of fine wine tasting.
#2 The Peju winery was a gorgeous facade of the Rutherford Estate with impressive tower-architecture and a great barrel room. The vino, especially the Cabernets (2013 Franc and Reserve) sent us spinning into a dizzying aftertaste of oaks and cherries and berries.
Pacific Coast Highway
The 17-mile drive, the country’s iconic, was indeed a telltale: the soporific breeze, barking harbor seals in the distance, the scenic road kissing the Pacific, waves languidly tossing back and forth, and the infinity of it all.
In the incessant rain squall, we rode through the Pebble Beach community with our first pitstop at Lone Cypress. Although it appeared to be delicately perched on the rocky cliff, this low-hung, noble tree continues to stay rooted to its spot for years despite weathering.
Then, as the clouds rumbled, we promenaded by the seashore and came upon Spanish Bay where we dwelled in the view of its azure, curvy coastline lined by Monterey pines.
Before concluding with a halt at the beautiful Lodge that overlooked a golf course, we took some minutes to mull at Point Joe, where, it is believed, the seven ocean currents meet. “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.”
Muir Woods National Monument
Situated about two hours from San Fran, there exists the Muir Woods of more than 500 acres of forest cover with some of the trees aged over a millennium. A kaleidoscope of earthy greens and rusty reds.
Our hike was amidst groves of large-girth giant coast redwoods of the Sequoia species that ascended far, far into the sky. We were, like always, indebted to this landscape that gave us perspective.
As we climbed the moderately strenuous swampy trail veined into the slopes, it was hard not to notice how bountiful and grand the wilderness was, a symphony of sights and sounds.
A bit of a tourist attraction but hey, we were amazed because it WAS mind-boggling! Defying gravitational laws, probably an optical illusion, the mystery spot is an area in the thickets all of about 100 feet where one may get lightheaded from the 17 degree tilt.
No, it’s not due to the climate change nor is it manmade. Mysterious!
With this, our incredibly short ‘NorCal’ Bay Area odyssey culminated but for those few days, as they say, “we lived in the sunshine and drank the wild air.”