Sunday, April 04, 2010

Day 3 - Napa and Calistoga

We woke up in a world of pain. The clocks had changed, sadly against us, and were ahead an hour. Six am turned out to be five am and a struggle. Still, we checked out and picked up the car that would be taking us all over California. The Hubs had popped in the day before and charmed the lady behind the counter. Though we couldn't get the car we'd initially wanted, she set us up with a sportier version of what we'd asked for. The Hubs was on cloud 9. I thought he might cry with joy, instead I was the one shedding tears. Of laughter, that is, when he turned out of the rental company and the wrong way down a one way street. Admittedly, he was laughing too, at me - I couldn't see over the dash.

We made our way across Bay Bridge, proving the continuity error in The Graduate. We were in Yontville in no time, so little time in fact that we were an our early for lunch. Thankfully, a cheerful sommelier in training at the Yontville market place took us in and talked us through some cult Californian wines.

We walked up to The Restaurant with a couple from Austin who had been trying to get a table for over a year before getting lucky with a cancellation. They were even more excited than we were! The restaurant looks like a two bed home, with a beautiful sitting area in the garden and a vegetable patch across the way. We were seated by a lovely waiter from Las Vegas, who talked us through the menu choices. The Hubs and I had had a grand plan to split the chef and vegetable menus but allowed ourselves to be persuaded into two variants of the Chef's menu.

After lunch, we hurried through town to St Helena, where we were due to pick up a case of wine from Acme Fine Wines, who specialise in smaller winemakers. Their mission is to bring small vinters to market, and we'd been planning to drink a bottle a night. From Acme, we headed to Calistoga, a picturesque spa town. We were booked into Dr Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resort for the evening, which would include a mud bath. The Resort is a preserved 60s motel, who we'd managed to get a deal with. The mud bath was crazy! The sulphur in the mineral springs made it smell strange, but only marginally so in light of the strangeness of willingly slipping into a vat of stinking, peat-based mud, with twigs and leaves in it. All I could think about was how odd it was not to sink. The peat was made into mud using the springwater, which ran at 110 degrees. We were left in the mud for half an hour before getting into more springwater for a 20 minute whirlpool bath. Then it was a chill out in the steam room prior to a blanket wrap. We left with that weird bloated belly feeling you can sometimes get after a detox, and really soft skin. There were a load of people at the spa who were going for courses of treatments and had been for decades. I wasn't sure if that meant they were good or very bad. The entire experience brought to mind scenes from Victorian novels where the rich went to convalesce, though in a very naked way.

After the spa we wandered through Calistoga, which was a really picturesque town with absolutely nothing to do outside of eating, drinking and checking out the live entertainment. Sadly, we were stuffed from the French Laundry and so we ended up at the local Calmart, where we stocked up on chips and guacamole.

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