California State Capitol
I check out after having my 7-11 breakfast around 10.15 am and it’s time for some sightseeing around Sacramento, so I initially walk to the California State Capitol. I’ve never been to Sacramento before so decided during trip planning to spend half a day or so having a look at the city before travelling on to Wine Country. The State Capitol building is similar in style to the one in Washington DC (at least to my untutored non-US eye), and a very impressive sight too. It’s a pleasant day, not too warm as yet, just about right. I walk up Capitol Mall and follow the signs to go inside. It’s very impressive internally as well. Built originally in the early 1800s it was rebuilt from the inside out, in part to earthquake-proof it, but also I think it was in need of renovation. I overheard a guide saying it is in fact only 33 years old in terms of the current ‘fabric’. They’ve done out some of the rooms as they were in 1906, for example the Secretary of State and Treasurer’s rooms. It’s all been done very well – you can’t go in the rooms, but they look – again – impressive. I didn’t have the time for a guided tour but I’m not that bothered and just wander around on my own. All done and dusted, it’s time to leave. It was an interesting visit and well worth taking the time to have a look around.
I walk back down to Old Sacramento – where the bar was last night – and in the daylight I can now see it’s just old buildings preserved and turned into bars, restaurants and (tat) shops. It’s very well done from a historical perspective but mostly it’s a shopping mall. There’s an old riverboat on the river, a few old trains plus a couple of museums but I didn’t fancy visiting them. It’s well done and the district is worth seeing as part of the history of the city. I grab lunch at a Subway and then it’s back to the hotel to pick up the car and drive to Napa.
Into Wine Country
It’s a pleasant drive down Interstate 80 towards Napa, nothing special, but not totally boring. I turn off onto Hwy 12 towards Napa and suddenly there’s loads of traffic even on a Monday afternoon at 2.30 pm. I-80 wasn’t particularly busy so I don’t know where all the traffic has come from. I don’t remember it being as busy as this when I last came here but that was about 20 years ago! I find the 3 Palms Napa Valley Hotel & Suites At The Napa River quite easily and it’s right in the centre of town, so a good choice. The hotel – or more accurately a motel – seems OK if not actually good. There were some negative comments on TripAdvisor which made me hesitate booking it, but for the price in comparison to other central hotels I figured it was worth a chance. All the other centrally located hotels were very expensive but this was very reasonable. It’s not 5 star but is perfectly good: clean, comfortable, free parking and centrally located so I can hopefully walk to some bars. Cheaper hotels were some distance from the centre of town and I realised when booking that Napa is quite a large town – or technically a city – these days.
After settling in I call and try to pay my Golden Gate toll in advance of when I will travel over it in a couple of days time, but find I can’t because you have to be precise about the time you actually cross. As I don’t know this yet, the service assistant suggests I pay after crossing – I must remember to do that…
It’s still only 4 pm so to kill some time I decide to go to the Century Napa Valley cinema as I want to see Sicario. The film’s great and the cinema is pretty good as well. I stop off in a supermarket on the way back for tomorrow’s breakfast, then go back to the hotel and check out some local bars for dinner on the web.
Out On The Town In Napa
Downtown Joe’s has good reviews and it’s just 2 minutes walk away, so I set off. When I arrive it’s packed out but most people soon leave – typical early-bird California diners – and I have a Reuben sandwich whilst sitting at the bar, which is reasonably good. They brew their own beers – many of them – so I try one and it’s good. The bar is empty by now, so there’s no-one to talk to. The barman is weird – he’s either ill, on drugs or just plain stupid. He’s sweating profusely, constantly taking off and putting on his sweatshirt. The bar’s website said there was live music on tomorrow night but the barman insists it’s the following night, Wednesday. It’s karaoke tomorrow he says. On the way back from a restroom visit I ask a guy who I think is the owner about the music. “Tomorrow night” he says. But the barman said Wednesday I tell him, “What do they know?” he replies and points to a sheet pinned to the wall with all the week’s events. It’s music tomorrow. So the barman is stupid, and I’ll be coming back tomorrow as it’s claimed they’re a blues band. I decide to leave, and it’s off to bed.