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Old 10-27-2011, 11:31 PM   #166
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Sacramento - The Banks of Sacramento


Sacramento – The state capital of California was next on our itinerary. The home of Arnie…the city built on the confluence of two rivers, Sacramento and American. It was a nugget found along the banks of the American River that sparked the gold rush in California. And people coming from the East detoured off the Oregon Trail and headed straight for Sac.

Interestingly, the lyrics to the Banks of Sacramento song make no mention of the American River at all:
There’s plenty of gold,
so I’ve been told,
On the banks of Sacramento


Why did we go to Sac? Aside from the fact that we’d not been to Sacramento before, my aunt that lives in San Diego had told us about a music colloquium she was attending. DH and I were interested in the subject matter, which was about using music for teaching children. We enrolled DS into the program. However, with my mother in tow, it was obvious that only one of us adults would be attending the program. It was a coin toss and in the end, I ended up being the winner and loser.

The program ran for 5 full days and was being held at the California State University, Sacramento (CSUS). We were to have lodgings in one of the dormitories on campus and could opt to buy a ‘dining plan’ as part of the program.

The cost? Ridiculous!!

Enrolment plus 5 night’s accommodation for DH was about $270. DS was $160.

Accommodation for 5 nights on campus for accompanying adults NOT doing the course cost $75. Food for the week was $55. That’s breakfast, lunch and dinner….cafetaria/buffet style…but still….a BARGAIN. There was also an optional BBQ dinner on the first night for $20 per person, $10 for kids. We opted to attend.

For my mum and me, that was $150 for 5 nights full board and lodging.

We probably had lunch once on campus during this period as we were out and about most times; but we had breakfast every day and probably ate 3 dinners in. So the dining plan worked out great for us. The food was adequate…the menu changed every night and there was always 3 courses on offer. In addition, a different cuisine was planned for the week so that we never got the same meal twice i.e., Mexican one night, Chinese for another, Italian…etc. For each cuisine, there were always at least 2 different meats and 1 fish dish on offer.


We flew out of LAX and into SFO where we picked up our car hire for the week. It would take us about 90 minutes to drive across the Bay Bridge and along the 80 to Sacramento and CSUS.

This was the dorms that the colloquium attendees stayed in. We were allocated two rooms on the first floor. DH and I shared one; my mum and DS shared the other. Typical dormitory settings….minimal and just barely above backpacker style…but for the price we paid, we couldn’t complain. It was clean, comfortable and air-conditioned.




The recreational room, which also was where the television was located, was always noisy without being rowdy.




The dining hall was a short 2 minute walk away.




Sacramento was incredibly hot during the time we were there. Daytime temperatures stayed between 100 – 110 F for the 5 days that we were there. Thankfully, we had airconditioning and access to the campus pool.


I took a walk one of the afternoons we were there to take some shots of the campus.








The campus was located along the American River…at least I think it was the American River.




Most mornings, I would get up early – communal showers – to beat the rush. And before the dining hall opened, I would walk along the banks before the silly heat of the day. Whilst the campus was green, the outer edges of the campus along the river show how bone dry and brown Sac and the countryside really was.





I loved this walk…I had my own mini-Golden Gate.





The river banks were always green…





…and a pumping station.




CSUS treated us well and my mum, despite not ever having had the experience of being in accommodation with communal showers, quite enjoyed her stay there. She never got used to the shower facilities but still talks fondly of the experience.


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Old 10-27-2011, 11:36 PM   #167
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(Continued from Previous Post)

Placerville

Whilst the boys were attending colloquium, my mum and I spent the time together. Before we left for the trip, we had originally wanted to go to Lake Tahoe. The trip from Sacramento to the South Lake was meant to take about 90 minutes or so.

And on the first day of colloquium, that’s exactly in the direction we headed in.

Problem was….we’d heard that there was a wildfire burning in the El Dorado National Forest, which was where we needed to go through to get to South Lake Tahoe.

I figured we’d drive and stop along the way to get more accurate intel. We ended up in Placerville. But we’d worked out that the wildfire was close to the 50 long before we’d even gotten to Placerville. The news had hit the radio waves and updates were provided on a regular basis. The worry was that the fire was going to jump across the 50 and road blocks were threatened. And with that news, Lake Tahoe was a no-go for us….in fact, Lake Tahoe ended up being a no-go for the entire week due to that wild fire. It is my only regret for this trip. But I digress…

Placerville turned out to be somewhat of a pleasant surprise. It had been the called Hangtown in the golden days….and punishment for crimes resulted in public hangings, hence the name. It was, and remains the home for the El Dorado county courthouse. And for a town with about 50 buildings along one central street, I stopped counting when I got to 15 ‘shingles’ on display for lawyering establishments!

There were quaint country stores here that mum and I just enjoyed shopping and looking at. We found an old-fashioned haberdashery shop, dress shops, diners and cafes, one small, independent supermarket, hairdressers, and a couple of shops that sold trinkets and what-nots. It might have been July….but one of the trinket shops was already pulling out their Christmas tree and decorations in preparation for the holidays!

We stopped in one of the diners for lunch. We both enjoyed burgers, fries and milk shake. And I know we stayed long enough for afternoon tea…because I remember going into a café and having tea and a cake to share there as well.

Mum ended up buying a blouse from one of the shops. It was on sale..and I think I picked up some Christmas trim.

Here are my pictures from our time here. Quite a few of them included my mother – she was rather taken with small town Americana – so I haven’t posted any of those at all.

There only appeared to be one main street to Placerville.





I’ve always loved street art.





Busy Monday morning in Placerville!





A reminder of a by-gone era.









The Placerville bell is still intact…I believe it used to be the warning for wildfires and emergencies for the townfolk.






As much as I love visiting big cities, my preference is definitely for this kind of off-the-beaten-track travel and sightseeing. I think my mum also came round to my kind of traveling after Maine and Placerville.



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Old 10-27-2011, 11:40 PM   #168
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(Continued from Previous Post)

Downtown Sacramento

The second day of colloquium and my mother and I decided to head into downtown Sacramento. There was a bus service that ran from CSUS to the downtown and I figured we could catch the bus in to get an idea of the streets so that if I then wanted to drive into town, we’d be able to figure it out.

So into town we went. The bus service took about 30 minutes to get in and I was pleased to see that Sacramento was laid out in a nice grid with letter streets running one way and numbered streets running at right angles. If we were to drive in along the bus route, the only tricky bit was around a street called Alhambra and making sure we got the right letter street heading down as there were definite one-way only streets in Sacramento.

I have a distinct lack of pictures for the downtown area. Suffice to say, we found the Westfield Shopping Mall and spent the better part of the morning there…just checking out prices and what the shops were selling.

We also took a walk around town and found Arnie’s home; and Capitol Dome. I wish I’d taken pictures…but really, in those days, I didn’t understand the allure of photography.

Did I mention that it was hot in Sac? Really hot!

After the Westfield and our walkabout, we headed towards Old Sacramento. Old Sac is located right along the Sacramento River and is a historic state park for how the town used to be in gold rush times. Think spaghetti westerns, wooden buildings and horse hitching posts….and that’s the ambience of Old Sac. It was developed to attract tourists and is filled with souvenir shops and restaurants. Problem was…when we were there….no tourists. Old Sac was pretty much a ghost town. I don’t know if it is still that way.

Did I mention that it was hot in Sac? Really hot! Old Sac was hot….really hot!

There was one place that caught my eye…the California State Railway Museum. DS was 7 at this time and still into trains….so I went to take a look at the building…the air-conditioned building. Mum was dubious about my suggesting that we go in…but at $6 for an adult entry and air-conditioning…she was happy enough to go in.

Can I just say that we were both blown away by this place? We ended up in here for over 3 hours and felt like we’d rushed our visit.

The trains in here and the details were just amazing! And the pictures I took with the little point and shoot camera just does not do it justice at all.

Looking down into the main hall where the locomotives were on display.





And from the hall level..















Most engines were described by displays such as this for the visitors to read and self-guide themselves through.





The dining cart contained original china patterns used throughout the railway’s history.





A mail cart.









And the outside…yes. It was still hot.





We’d stayed so long in here that it was past the pre-arranged meeting time that DH and I had agreed to in the morning. DH rang to see where we were as they had finished colloquium for the day. On hearing where we were, he got DS and my aunt in the car and drove down to meet us.

My aunt had been in Sac before and directed DH to Old Sac by the freeway. It took them all of 15 minutes to drive, park and get to where we were. DS and DH then raced through the museum…they only had an hour in there…whilst us girls walked about Old Sac in twilight time shopping. There might have been a few more people out and about looking for somewhere to eat… but even after hours, Old Sac remained a ghost town.


Did I mention that it was hot in Sac? Really hot! Even at twilight…it was hot! Really hot!


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Old 10-27-2011, 11:47 PM   #169
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(Continued from Previous Post)

Did I mention that it was hot in Sac? Really hot!

My mum, who has a few years on me, found the heat in Sac a little too much by day 3. I think it was the first time that I realized that my mother was no longer as young as she once was.

So, much as I had wanted to try heading towards South Lake Tahoe again (and as it turns out it was probably best that we didn’t as that wild fire was still threatening to jump the 50), I suggested that we find a mall to visit.

Over breakfast, one of the other colloquium attendees had told me that they went to Arden Fair Mall. It was probably all of 10 minutes away from CSUS.


Mum, on the other hand, had a different idea in mind. She had seen signs to the Folsom Factory Outlets on our way to Placerville and was keen to go there instead. So, to Folsom we went. Folsom took us about 20 minutes to get to.

It wasn’t a super big outlet…We probably got through the 50 or 60 stores there in 2 or so hours. Yes, we did shop some. We’d done enough research at the Westfield in the Downtown area to know what was a good buy and what was in the shops by this stage.

But it was hot….really hot here.


So, we got ourselves back into the car and drove back to CSUS to drop off our purchases. I’m pretty sure we ended up in the dining hall for lunch.

Mum had cooled down some by the time we finished lunch and we decided to head towards the Vacaville Outlets. Vacaville was in the opposite direction to Folsom, and back towards San Francisco. It was only a 45 minute drive. This outlet were much bigger than Folsom…there were about 120 stores there.


And it was even hotter….really hotter here!

Yup. More shopping! Mum and I both fried our credit cards that day!




An Imperfect Memory


Day 4 turned out to be the hottest day that we experienced whilst in Sac. Did I mention that it was hot in Sac? Really hot!

After yesterday’s shopping effort, I suggested to my mum that we resume some sightseeing around town. I’d wanted to see some of gold rush history and had decided to go to Sutter Fort.

I drove. Followed the bus route, because I’d seen the bus pass Sutter Fort a couple of days prior.

Sutter Fort was established by one of the founders of Sacramento, John Sutter, in the 1840’s. It was built as a stronghold, complete with fortified walls, to withstand American Indians attacking and to provide a safe haven for pioneers heading west. In it’s day, it was probably the equivalent of our modern day mall.

One of the main buildings inside the Fort.




Cannons within the walls.




I don’t know if this outside oven was original to the complex….




…and I cannot remember if this is the inside of the kitchen. But pioneers could buy food and bread from within the fort.




I think this is the kitchen….




The smithy…for your horse shoe repairs.




And a place to pick up pots and pans.





Anyone else spot the hidden Mickey?


I think this was the milk room....certainly there is no way it would pass Food Handling laws these days for clean room!





I have an imperfect memory of these last two days in Sac…but I’m pretty sure that after we finished with Sutter Fort, we headed towards Arden Fair in search of airconditioning.

I know that mum and I saw two movies whilst we were in Sac, one of which being Ratatouille and the other being HP and the Order of Pheonix.

I’m pretty sure that we watched the movies on separate days…but both at Arden Fair.

In any event, Day 5 in Sac turned out to be a half day for the colloquium. We had enough time to pack, go see a movie before heading back to pick up the boys.

What I do remember is that Sacramento turned out great for some mother/daughter bonding. I missed hanging out with the boys....but I'm glad I got the week to go shopping with my mum.


We have 2 nights left on this vacay and we were heading for Napa.




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Old 10-28-2011, 02:23 AM   #170
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So Sac a little warm for ya? Yes Old Sac is busier than ever. They have the jazz fesitival every year. They have all kinds of things that go on down there through out the year. I love Placerville, love. Hmmm...sounds like you were up there the when I worked in Cameron Park. Sounds bad but I happend to win for selling the most maps in my store from that fire. I thought for a while we would be evacuated. Now you know why I sad we need to move further north from the heat.

The train museum is really neat. They now have a Joes crab shack. The delta king is there and you can eat and see a mystery theater experience. I dont go to the mall either. But glad you had a good time.
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Old 10-28-2011, 04:00 AM   #171
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I expected to see more trains. It is a very nice train museum.

I do like the one in Duluth, MN as well, and nothing is quite like Steam Town in PA.
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Old 10-28-2011, 06:56 AM   #172
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We haven't spent much time in Sacremento - only flew in and out on the way to Tahoe once...too bad you didn't get up there because it is so beautiful.

I DID spot the hidden mickey, before I even read that you mentioned it. There's something seriously wrong with us, don't you think?
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Old 10-28-2011, 02:08 PM   #173
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I was really surprised to hear that Sacramento was hot!

Seriously that Central Valley is a nightmare in summertime! Then there is the Tule fog in the wintertime....

I went to Old Town about 15 years ago, but it was in the spring and it was fairly bustling. I'm glad that you have realized the allure of picture taking! Much more fun on the TR's and especially when there is food porn, however, I am still enjoying hearing about all this. Hopefully we'll get back to enjoying leisurely drives through the state once again!
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Old 10-28-2011, 02:15 PM   #174
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Originally Posted by skier_pete View Post
I DID spot the hidden mickey, before I even read that you mentioned it. There's something seriously wrong with us, don't you think?
^ Me too!
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:24 AM   #175
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I've just added Sacramento to my "only go in winter" list (I hate the heat!)

I did a double take when I saw the "golden gate" bridge.. I was seriously thinking to myself where are all the cars?

It's been a long day.
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Old 10-30-2011, 12:11 AM   #176
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Thanks for the update! My DS would love that train museum. By the way I see you have a new ticker!
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Old 10-30-2011, 03:56 AM   #177
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usnuzuloose View Post
So Sac a little warm for ya? Yes Old Sac is busier than ever. They have the jazz fesitival every year. They have all kinds of things that go on down there through out the year. I love Placerville, love. Hmmm...sounds like you were up there the when I worked in Cameron Park. Sounds bad but I happend to win for selling the most maps in my store from that fire. I thought for a while we would be evacuated. Now you know why I sad we need to move further north from the heat.

The train museum is really neat. They now have a Joes crab shack. The delta king is there and you can eat and see a mystery theater experience. I dont go to the mall either. But glad you had a good time.
Melbourne gets that warm in summer as well. It just was unexpected.


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Originally Posted by skiingfast View Post
I expected to see more trains. It is a very nice train museum.

I do like the one in Duluth, MN as well, and nothing is quite like Steam Town in PA.
I'll have to stop by Duluth and Steam Town/PA some time. The one in Sac was a very nice train musuem and its been a few years now; so I can't remember exactly how many trains we saw.

Quote:
Originally Posted by skier_pete View Post
We haven't spent much time in Sacremento - only flew in and out on the way to Tahoe once...too bad you didn't get up there because it is so beautiful.

I DID spot the hidden mickey, before I even read that you mentioned it. There's something seriously wrong with us, don't you think?
I don't see anything seriously wrong with us....
And I had been to Tahoe once before. I was keen to head back for a re-visit. It's on the cards for sometime. Just a matter of when.

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Originally Posted by franandaj View Post
I was really surprised to hear that Sacramento was hot!

Seriously that Central Valley is a nightmare in summertime! Then there is the Tule fog in the wintertime....

I went to Old Town about 15 years ago, but it was in the spring and it was fairly bustling. I'm glad that you have realized the allure of picture taking! Much more fun on the TR's and especially when there is food porn, however, I am still enjoying hearing about all this. Hopefully we'll get back to enjoying leisurely drives through the state once again!
Maybe it was the heat that kept people away from Old Town. Yes, definitely much more fun on the TRs with pictures and food porn.


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Originally Posted by Lulu83 View Post
I've just added Sacramento to my "only go in winter" list (I hate the heat!)

I did a double take when I saw the "golden gate" bridge.. I was seriously thinking to myself where are all the cars?

It's been a long day.

I kept having to pinch myself in the morning when I went walking. It really is a 'mini-me' of the real thing.

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Originally Posted by Mum from oz View Post
Thanks for the update! My DS would love that train museum. By the way I see you have a new ticker!
Train museum was a lot of fun and a hoot for DS7. He was still in his train phase.

Yes, thanks for noticing the new ticker....and I've started a new PTR. Anyone who feels up for another 'trip'....link is here (and in my siggie below). http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2823458 My normal PTR mayhem seems to be shaping up already.


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Old 10-30-2011, 05:49 PM   #178
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I'll have to stop by Duluth and Steam Town/PA some time. The one in Sac was a very nice train musuem and its been a few years now; so I can't remember exactly how many trains we saw.
I wouldn't see you going to Duluth it's a bit remote. But if you want to do a color tour, you could start there and take US 2 east across the top of Wisconsin and into Upper Michigan.

The train museum there is a bit small but very good, similiar in size to the museum in Sacremento. It has a Northern Pacific "Yellowstone" which is a massive steam engine. The main difference is the museum is on the track level of an old station, where as the one in Sacremento is in a Roundhouse.

Did you see the Turn Table ouside? They have become very rare. How about the Cab Forward Souther Pacific? It has the cab where the engineer was at the very front of the train.

Steam Town, if you're out east again, has about everything. It's amazing.
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Old 11-08-2011, 12:37 AM   #179
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Quote:
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I wouldn't see you going to Duluth it's a bit remote. But if you want to do a color tour, you could start there and take US 2 east across the top of Wisconsin and into Upper Michigan.

The train museum there is a bit small but very good, similiar in size to the museum in Sacremento. It has a Northern Pacific "Yellowstone" which is a massive steam engine. The main difference is the museum is on the track level of an old station, where as the one in Sacremento is in a Roundhouse.

Did you see the Turn Table ouside? They have become very rare. How about the Cab Forward Souther Pacific? It has the cab where the engineer was at the very front of the train.

Steam Town, if you're out east again, has about everything. It's amazing.
I have quite a thing for remote locations!

I did see the Turntable outside. But it was too hot to linger for too long.
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Old 11-08-2011, 12:42 AM   #180
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Napa Valley – The Days of W(h)ine and Roses

Napa Valley – The Days of W(h)ine and Roses


We are down to the last 2 days in this vacation and TR.




Colloquium for the boys finished at lunchtime on Friday and we had a final meal with my aunt and cousin in the dining hall at CSUS. It was a bittersweet moment…spending time with loved ones, knowing that you’ll soon have that pond between us again.

After lunch, we said our farewells and pushed on.

I had previously mentioned that DH and I like to include days where we travel itinerantly with no fixed plans or destination in mind. Thus it was that the last two nights of this trip was unplanned. We did think we might end up in the Napa Valley or possibly back in San Francisco for these two nights…and it all depended on what accommodation options were available and how we felt at the time.

We headed back the way we had come….and stopped off in Fairfield.

There had been a sign on our way towards Sac that had caught all of our attention and we figured it definitely needed a stop on the way back.

The Jelly Belly Factory is based in Fairfield. I have subsequently found out that the factory tour here is rated in the top 3 factory tours to do in the US…which explains why the queue was out the door, with a 1 hour wait.




And just so you know….that queue sign and timing was definitely correct.
We were definitely entering manufacturing premises and they handed us those hats to hold our hair in place! There were about 4 or 5 jelly belly artwork like this one….





….and that turned out to be about the extend of the photographs. It was strictly no photography inside the premises.
I will say that we were taken to the ‘visitors showroom’….walking platforms over the top of the factory and warehouse.
The manufacturing process for how to make jelly bellies was explained….they roll the bellies in sugar much like a cement mixer…

….and we were given FREE jelly bellies at the end of the tour (through the gift shop, of course).

We all found it thoroughly enjoyable and informative. Definitely worth the stop for us.



A little house by the hills

We hadn’t counted on the hour’s queuing time and that meant we got into the Napa region late. We found ourselves at a fork with a signpost….Napa one way, Sonoma the other. DH and I voted for Sonoma.

It turned out to be a great choice. There was a tourist information center available at Sonoma village. I can’t remember exactly…but it was either this building or very close to this building. This shot was taken later that same night.




In the village center was a playground where DS went to play. I headed into the tourist information center and found that they also provided help for accommodation options.





I had something specific in mind….after staying in hotels, motels and dormitories, I was after a bed and breakfast or a cottage for a reasonable price. The person that served me immediately thought of this place and was on the phone within minutes. After some haggling, we struck a deal. We got this little 2-bedroom cottage for $300 total. That’s for the 2 nights.





The cottage was located 7 minutes drive outside of Sonoma village. And this is the view from the cottage…









We walked across the little country road and took a stroll amongst the vines.





Looks like a potentially good harvest to me!





There were a number of fruit trees on the cottage property…









Yes…it had it’s own grapes too!





The cottage was fantastic and it was fully loaded with cereal, fruit and milk. The owners were our neighbours and we got homemade waffles for breakfast as well for one morning; and bacon and eggs for the second.
And…we got to do our laundry whilst there so that we came home with clean clothes!




Sonoma village

Sonoma village was built around a square…the square where the playground was. The village was really quaint and there were a few restaurants there, supermarket, pharmacy, bookshop, cafes…..to meet our needs. We were to dine in the village on both nights that we were there. We could have headed towards Napa, which was much bigger, but then so were the crowds.













We also found little arcades off the village square that had the standard artsy tourist shops, high end fashion and expensive jewellery.


















I thought it rather pretty.



(Continued in Next Post)
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Last edited by PrincessInOz; 11-08-2011 at 12:53 AM.
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