Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Portugal - California 2004

Coast and (wine) country

I woke up nice and early and could tell immediately that all was not well with the weather. A glance through the curtains confirmed that it was raining. Definitely time to be leaving, then   Although a little bit sad to be going, I was also looking forward to getting behind the wheel and seeing much more of the state of California. I was soon ready to go and arranged to leave my suitcase with the concierge while I went to have some breakfast and pick up the car.

My BA Gold card worked well for me on this occasion, the Avis agent confirming that a complimentary upgraded car was available. A few minutes later and I was settling into the biggest and most luxurious rental car I've ever had in America - a Ford Crown Victoria, fitted with all manner of nifty gadgets, including something to tell me which direction I was driving in. Never seen that one before! I returned to the Mark Hopkins to pick up my suitcase and was soon heading west on California Street, then towards the Golden Gate Bridge. I stopped at the viewpoint just after my crossing for a last look.

While there, I had a glance at a map and took an impulse decision. My original intention was to follow Highway 101 (initially) towards Sonoma, but I wanted to see something of the coast as well. I decided there and then to take Route 1 up to Bodega Bay and then cut across from there to Sonoma. The coast road proved to be a most interesting drive, never more so than on the first section north of the bridge, which was narrow, winding and very scenic. However, I was also intrigued by my chosen coastal destination. Alfred Hitchcock's famous movie The Birds captured my imagination as a child, so I thought it might be interesting to visit the location. As I got closer, I recalled assorted images from the film : the lovebirds, the children singing in the classroom, the Irishman who insisted : "It's the end of the world!" Perhaps not surprisingly, there was nothing recognisable, other than the geographic layout of the village. I had a very nice lunch of locally caught fish and chips, British style.

From there I made my way to Sonoma, a recommendation that had come from both Bruce and Austin. Along the way, I stopped at one of the many wineries to do a spot of tasting. Passing through the wine country without doing so seemed unthinkable. Soon enough, I had arrived in the little town of Sonoma itself and had a quick wander around the attractive central area. I visited the cheese factory and took the opportunity to stock up on their sandwiches for later in the day. After a couple of false moves, which convinced me that I needed to buy a more detailed road map, I eventually found my way to the Holiday Inn in Vallejo.

It was quite a bit of driving to end up a ferry ride away from downtown San Francisco, but that was OK with me : it had been an enjoyable day and the weather had been much better than it originally threatened to be.


Winery visit


Sunday 19 Sep

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