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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Holiday Report US West Coast: Part 3 - Napa Valley

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Bindi and I have been able to see lots of places that we could never have afforded to, if it were not for using points, or at least defraying the cost by searching out bargain fares on flights or hotels.  

We've been spending some time in Panama of late.  So we started our trip from there.

In September we converted Delta 35,000 points each, to travel up to visit my family in Ohio, and then from there to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary by driving and touring the US West Coast.  
Wine Tasting in the Napa Valley
Delta allows you to have a stopover at 1 location, and then another flight to an entirely different destination, when redeeming award tickets.  Effectively, you're getting 2 trips, for the price of 1 redemption. 

So we flew from Panama to Ohio, then later to California, and finally back to Panama at the end.  All for 35,000 points. 

We had decided to visit Las Vegas, the Napa Valley, and drive south along Highway 1, since these are places we've always wanted to see.

Holiday Report US West Coast: Index

San Francisco
Though we did stay in San Francisco, we really should have stayed somewhere closer to the Napa Valley.  I didn't realize how far it was.  At least an hour or actually closer to 2 hours in traffic.  And we went there 2 days in a row, so that added travel time.

But I had found 2 BRG's at nice hotels in the San Francisco, and wanting to stay for free and not knowing how far it was to the Napa, we opted to take the free nights and stay in San Francisco.  

I'm not posting about those free nights here, since this post is about Napa.  But it's worth mentioning so you can see how we were able to do this trip and were able to affordably celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary without breaking the bank!

Napa Valley

We've been lots of places, but never to the Napa Valley.  And we've heard from friends for years how 'you must see it'!  So we finally began planning earlier in 2013 to make a trip for our 15th wedding anniversary.  And it did not disappoint.  

Tra Vigne - Wonderful Place & Food
We loved many of the small restaurants and cafes in Napa.  We tried several.  But we have to mention Tra Vigne, which is in St. Helena, a small town that is at the start of the Napa Valley.  The waiter was professional and knowledgeable (wish we knew his name!), and the food and wine were superb.  Prices for a meal are ~$20 and up, but for the atmosphere and locale, are worth every penny and more.  

If you are passing through don't miss having a meal there!

If you ever have the time and you're in Northern California, you MUST see it.  We've toured lots of wineries around Australia (our favourite is still the Yarra in Melbourne), and I'll admit, they are on equal par with Napa.  (My wife and I always compare Oz/US!)  Believe it or not, what we like better about the Aussie wineries is that they don't usually charge for tastings, and the wine itself is just as good as California.  Whereas in Napa they usually did charge.  However, prices were reasonable.  Thumbs up for Australia in this case, since FREE wine, and of same quality, is a bargain we prefer!
However, if you're in California, you really need to spend a day (or 3) seeing this picturesque part of the US.  The olive groves, surroundings, and mountains, make this a place you shouldn't miss if visiting the West Coast!

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