Wine, Food, Nature
The song “San Francisco” by the Russian band “Car-Man” from the 90’s, goes like this: “San Francisco is a city of a disco style, San Francisco is a city of thousands of lights, San Francisco is a city full of risk….”. When I visit San Francisco, this song very often comes to mind. But there is much, much more to San Francisco. Everyone has something to love for that big and wonderful megalopolis. For me it’s a starting point to go to my three favorite spots: Napa Valley, Carmel-by-the-Sea and Sausalito. Each place is so unique and attractive, and has so much to impress that is unique to that area.
This summer, I had a chance to go to all three my favorite places in San Francisco Bay area. And I want you to see them through my eyes, whether you visit them yourself or not.
Carmel-by-the-Sea. This French-style village impressed me from the first time I was there! Located on the Pacific Ocean with a white, sandy beach, it is famous for its art galleries and mini shopping boutiques. Eating here is also some kind of art or entertainment. People like me who love not just good food and wine, but appreciate the whole ambiance, from presentation to decor, will enjoy Carmel’s restaurants, which feature a full range of international, regional and local cuisines. My two favorites are Casanova, with its French and Italian retro style, and Aubergine, where elegance-meets-romance style. The second is located inside L’Auberge Carmel hotel, which has a cozy French rustic outside with modernity inside design. It gives you old-world European feel. To understand fully why these places are so special, you have to be there in person and feel transported to another time and place. You will be amazed! Everything here, from inns and hotels to cafes and landmarks, looks like colorful toys. And on top of all, Carmel-by-the-Sea has the famous scenic 17-Mile Drive of Pebble Beach Resort. The whole place is just charming!
Tip for travelers: Although everything is within walking distance from your landing place, DO NOT walk in 4-5-inch heels here, especially when you have to walk fast! The roads and sidewalks of Carmel are completing French Village style with its cobble stones design. Moreover, did you know that actually it was not so long time ago a law saying you can’t wear shoes with more than 2-inch heels without first getting a permit from City Hall?! Thank God it’s doesn’t exist anymore!!! Just love my heels!
Sausalito. This small and magical town has magnificent waterfront views of the San Francisco cityscape from anywhere you go. There are many fine galleries, shops and restaurants. With the first two, I was window-shopping and was hypnotized by some unbelievable art; with the last one, I experienced a lot. Restaurants such as: Scoma’s, The Spinnaker and The Trident are great with their tasty seafood and local wines. But the most mesmerizing thing that they have in common is the most spectacular bay and city views of San Francisco! Love sushi? Then Sushi-Ran is a perfect place to try. Fresh food, crispy white wine and cozy atmosphere made my day! Sausalito is known for its biking and boating activities. On my last trip there, I did sailboat cruising for the first time in my life! I was even sailing like a Captain! No worries, everybody safe! But the real skipper, Captain Chuck, was great! He is professional and knowledgeable in his aria. He can tell you lots of interesting facts and stories about Sausalito and the surrounding areas. There are picturesque views you can enjoy from the sea: the Golden Gate Bridge, the City of San Francisco, many islands, pretty houses on the green hills around, including our own Inn Above Tide — the hotel on the water where we stayed for the second time and where I met my fellow Ukrainian new friend Galina (Hello Galina!). So, whole time there was fun!
Tip for travelers: The Muir Woods National Reserve is a must-see destination on any visit to the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s only half an hour from the city downtown and home to one of the world’s last remaining coastal redwood forests, with thousand-year-old trees standing tall. While you there, it gives a natural Spa aromatherapy feelings!
Napa Valley. Ok, this place on earth doesn’t need a lot of introduction. It’s all about wine! Vineyards and wineries are the main attraction here. This summer, I discovered Alpha Omega boutique winery, which is surrounded by mountains. I love when the wineries have a green kind-of-garden sitting area outside where you can be pleased by wines and nature around. Alpha Omega meets my requirements (remember, the whole ambiance?!). There is a rose garden, a nice fountain which makes rainbows when the wind blows and chestnut trees, which reminded me of Ukraine where those type of trees are a symbol of the country and especially of the capital, Kiev. My day there was time well-spent while I enjoyed their fine elegant wines. In general, Napa Valley is perfect place to unwind …with wine!
Tip for travelers: The strangest policy I ever knew — you are not allowed eat your own food on winery properties! Not even an apple. So eat before you go there!
Bottom line: No matter how many visits you make to those three grand spots near San Francisco, you always wish for more! The places to fully enjoy wine, food and nature….