One of the things I like about staying at bed and breakfasts (or is that beds and breakfasts? B&Bs? Bs&Bs? gah! I don’t know!), rather than at hotels, is the social aspect. On our final morning in Napa, over breakfast, we chatted with a couple from San Francisco who frequently came to Napa Valley for brief getaways. They described an evening 20 or so years ago when they happened upon what first appeared to be a quaint and rustic-looking launderette but was revealed, upon further inspection, to be a restaurant. They figured they’d try it. Why not? Well, that restaurant was none other than the now world-famous French Laundry, back when it was relatively unknown. Turns out, they got a tasty meal and a great story.
Anyhow, our time in Napa was almost up, but before we left town, we had an important task to complete, namely, shipping home all the wine we had purchased. We loaded up bags, toted them to the UPS store, and filled out a shipping form. The employees said they’d pack it up for us and e-mail the tracking number and receipt. This sounded reasonable, and we figured a UPS store in Napa probably has plenty of experience with shipping wine, so we went on our merry way. It wasn’t until half an hour had passed with no e-mail from UPS that we began to worry. Perhaps leaving a few hundred dollars worth of wine with some brown-shirted guys who gave us nothing but a promise was not the wisest thing we’d ever done. In the end, it was fine. The e-mail came, and the wine arrived safely at our house.
As we strolled about Napa, we passed Town Hall, where a man sat by the steps near the front entrance, casually reading a newspaper. That might not seem particularly noteworthy, but here’s the catch: the man was dressed as Superman. I know, I know–pictures or it didn’t happen, right? I don’t know what to tell you. I thought about taking a picture, but I was seized by a moment of…I’m not sure what. Timidity? Diffidence? As much as I wanted a photo, I was worried I would look like a weirdo by taking a picture of this stranger in front of Town Hall, somehow forgetting that A) I would probably never see the guy again, and, more importantly, B) he was the one dressed as Superman on a Tuesday morning for no apparent reason and therefore was in no position to judge me or anyone else as a weirdo! I will probably forever kick myself for not taking a picture, but please believe me–it happened!
When it was time to bid Napa adieu, we packed up the rental car, drove (okay, Ian drove, I mostly slept) to San Francisco, and checked in to the Hotel California. We were slightly let down that the hotel had changed hands since we had booked it and no longer offered tequila shots upon check-in, which we’d read about in reviews. It’s not that I love tequila shots. In fact, I rarely drink them and usually only do so when coerced (as in, “Hey Liz, want to do a tequila shot with me?” “Well, I don’t know…” “Aw, come on!” “OH FINE, JUST STOP HOUNDING ME!”), but there is something novel and charming about welcoming guests with shots of liquor. It’s sort of like the welcome chocolate chip cookies you get at DoubleTree hotels…except different. Anyway, although there was no free tequila, we did enjoy the complimentary pineapple cupcakes. Plus, I had a good feeling about the place when I saw this in the lobby. I like a hotel with a sense of humor.
There was no pink champagne on ice or mirrors on the ceiling, but there were dolphins on the ceiling.
All in all, it was a lovely place.
We enjoyed a couple of drinks at Millennium, the restaurant attached to the hotel (more on that in a future post), then headed out to dinner. The rental car had been returned since we intended for our feet to be our main mode of transportation while in the city. As we walked we were quickly reminded that San Francisco has these things called hills, which are few and far between (not to mention much, much smaller) in Chicago. When you live in such a flat place, you forget how taxing it can be to walk up and down huge, colossal, gigantic, behemoth hills. San Franciscans must have fabulously strong legs.
With trembling quadriceps, we arrived at our destination, The Stinking Rose, where we indulged our love of garlic. We had eaten there on our honeymoon, and I had been there once before that. Each of those times, I had considered trying the garlic ice cream, which sounded simultaneously frightening and intriguing, but ended up passing on it. Not this time! We tried it and liked it. I do kind of wonder how it would taste if I had not had just eaten a very garlic-laden meal (which made the ice cream seem tame by comparison garlic-wise), but I did enjoy it as a lovely end to our second-flitterwochen garlic feast.