Sunday, June 9, 2013

San Francisco/Napa Trip | Day Two

After a short Day One in San Francisco, Josh and I were able to sleep in a bit and enjoy a nice room service breakfast. Then it was time for a fun-filled day of activities, including a cable car ride, lunch at Fisherman's Wharf, a tour of Alcatraz, a boozy ride to Napa, and a ridiculously delicious dinner. Super busy...but super fun.

Cable Car Ride

After our relaxing morning, we met up with the rest of our crew to take a cable car ride down to Fisherman's Wharf for lunch. Our hotel was conveniently located next to several cable car stops, and the fare to Fisherman's Wharf was only $6/person.

I've always wanted to ride one of these classic cable cars, and I'm so glad we did! The weather was perfect, and it only took about 15-20 minutes to get down there.

We also managed to get a few cute pictures...

Fisherman's Wharf & Scoma's

Even though Fisherman's Wharf is super touristy, I'm still a big fan. It offers great scenery, fabulous people-watching (including many crazy street performers), and a host of good places to eat super fresh seafood. 

For lunch, we opted for Scoma's. It is one of my grandfather's all-time favorite restaurants, and my Dad told me that BB might disown me if we didn't eat here during our trip :). 

And BB was right...the location was fun, the restaurant was fancy and yet quaint at the same time, and the food was fantastic. 
I ordered the Dungeness Crabcakes (with a salad), which were amazing! I will totally be trying the recipe at home. Several others raved about the Crab Louie Salad, and Josh loved the halibut special (as well as the garlic mashed potatoes that came with it).

After stuffing ourselves silly (and indulging in a couple glasses of wine), Josh, Steven, Jill, and I walked down to Pier 33 for our Alcatraz tour, and the Hicks and Arnolds (who had visited Alcatraz before) decided to wander around and explore the city.

 Alcatraz Tour

When we first decided on a trip to Napa, Josh's number one request was to include a day in San Francisco...complete with a tour of Alcatraz. Luckily, I was totally on board with this plan. I love historical stuff, particularly when it involves some sort of mystery/intrigue, so the Alcatraz tour sounded like a fun adventure.

With our tickets in hand, we boarded the ferry and headed to the island.

The ferry ride was practically a tour in itself. And we were surrounded by beautiful scenery the whole time, including...

The view looking back at Pier 33.

The Golden Gate Bridge. 

Prada. Yes, please.  

And, of course, The Rock. 

We arrived at the dock (approximately 20 minutes later), which is located on the back side of the island next to a big administrative building. Our tour started here with a brief introduction. 

One of the things we learned is that the island was inhabited for two years by Native Americans who were protesting federal policies related to American Indians. Evidence of this occupation is seen throughout the island, including through the graffiti and the fact that several key buildings were damaged by fire during this time period. 

After the introduction, we made the 13-story climb up to the jail. Despite the fact that the climb made me feel super out of shape, it was a beautiful hike. I was pleasantly surprised by all the gorgeous flowers and views. 

Once we made it up to the prison, we took the audio tour, which I highly recommend.

The coolest part of the audio tour, for me at least, was the fact that it included commentary from the prisoners, including some of those pictured below.
And the most shocking part was how small both the entire prison and the individual cells were.

Claustrophobia much?!

We clearly had to take some pictures in the cells... 

We also got to check out some of the buildings surrounding the prison. 

Overall, it was really effing cool. I highly recommend the tour (if you are in to this sort of thing). 

Three tips if you do plan a trip to Alcatraz: 1) buy the tickets online in advance, because they often sell out; 2) wear comfortable shoes, because you will be walking a lot; and 3) bring a jacket for the ferry, because it can get a bit chilly. 

Meritage Resort in Napa

After the Alcatraz tour, we met up with the rest of our crew and loaded up on our limo bus (courtesy of Evans Transportation...which I highly recommend) to head to Napa.

I didn't take any pictures during our ride, but if I had, you would have seen lots of wine in plastic cups and us playing Cards Against Humanity. It was my first time playing the game, and I'm in love. It is so wrong but so hilarious. One of our winning answers may or may not have been "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Auschwitz." Like I said, so wrong but so hilarious.

Anyway...we made it to Napa and checked in to the Meritage Resort and Spa. It is a relatively new resort, which is located just south of downtown Napa. Considering the reasonable price (by Napa Valley standards), I was very happy with the hotel.

The hotel and the grounds were beautiful. And even though we didn't have time to enjoy them, the resort has multiple pools, hot tubs, and cozy outdoor seating areas complete with fire places. It even has a sports bar/bowling alley!

We got a room with a patio (primarily so Josh could smoke cigars), which was on the first floor. The room was huge, the bed was really comfortable, and the bathroom was really nice. 

P.S. The fact that we never made it into the hot tub behind that wall is shocking. 

My only complaint about the hotel (and Napa in general) is the lack of good transportation options for dinner. Our hotel advertised a shuttle to downtown Napa in the evenings, but the lines were ridiculous and the shuttles were never on time. As a result of that, and the fact that the shuttle didn't go to the neighboring towns of Yountville and St. Helena, we used Black Tie Taxi most nights for dinner. 

Dinner at Bottega

Speaking of dinner, my favorite meal of the trip was our meal at Bottega, Chef Michael Chiarello's restaurant that features "bold Italian flavors with a refined twist."

It was the best meal from start to finish. And it started with a delectable cocktail, on a beautiful patio, next to a fireplace. It doesn't get much better than that.

When I told the waitress that the French 75 is my favorite cocktail, she recommended the "Italian Gin Tonic," which included Nolet's dry gin, limoncello, Fever Tree tonic, a rosemary sprig, grape halves, micro flowers, and juniper berries.

Despite the long list of ingredients, it was so clean and simple. And so delicious.

The group also ordered some appetizers on the patio, including the calamari and arancini, but I didn't manage to get any pictures before we inhaled them. So good. 

Once we moved to our table (which was the gorgeous, granite-topped chef's table), they brought out crusty bread with a magical, garlicky butter sauce. I could swim in this stuff. 

Josh and I ordered the "Polenta Under Glass" to start. The cheesy polenta comes with caramelized mushrooms and a balsamic game sauce. It definitely held up to all the good reviews. 

I also caught a picture of the Arnold's "Green Eggs and Ham" appetizer, which includes prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, a crispy soft-cooked egg, asparagus green garlic sauce, and Cambazola cheese. 

For the main course, Josh ordered the "Red Wheat Tagliarini Bolognese," and I got the "Ricotta Gnocci della Nonna," which the waiter said was the first dish that Chef Chiarello learned how to make from his grandmother. It was so freaking delicious. The gnocci literally melted in my mouth. 

My only was Josh's...was that there was not more on the plate. I really wish we had also ordered the "Smoked and Braised Short Ribs" to share. Lolly got the short ribs, and she may have won the meal.

We also could have used two of these Nutella volcano cakes (the dessert special that day). Goodness gracious. 

It was such a wonderful meal.

If I could eat here all the time, I would be so happy. So fat, but so happy.

Up next...our first day of winery tours and a celebrity sighting at dinner.

1 comment:

  1. yaaaaay Napa! ummm...the wind may have been blowing a bit on the ferry ride to Alcatraz. I look like Cousin It!


About Me

My name is Catherine, but most of my friends call me Cat. I was born and raised in Austin, went to TCU, and ended up in Dallas for law school (where Josh and I met). I decided that being an attorney was not my cup of tea and pursued a career in legal marketing instead. I am now a mother of two attempting to balance family with a full-time job, which is always an adventure. I love: my sweet babies, handsome husband, very large family, and fabulous friends; trying new restaurants; wine; TCU football; holidays; cooking; The Bar Method; pajamas; La Croix; reading; coffee; podcasts; Central Market; carbs; the beach; mani/pedis; Anthropologie; binge-worthy TV shows; trivia; French 75s; Pinterest; cheese boards; The Ticket; dancing; Sprinkles cupcakes; The Texas Rangers; fresh flowers; thunderstorms; naps; Tex-Mex; the Texas Hill Country; porch-sitting; ranch dressing; throwing parties; and my job. I hate: working-mom guilt; snakes; heights; waking up early; ignorant people; stomach bugs; paper cuts; green fruit; snoring; bad hair days; the sound of people eating (Misophonia); scary movies; bad drivers; pulpy OJ; trimming baby fingernails; and Miracle Whip. I think that about sums it up.


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