Oakland, CA

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Next up on our mini-vacation to the San Francisco Bay Area was a quick stop in Oakland to visit with Valerie’s cousin, Marcy and her significant other, Marc.  They have an apartment near Jack London Square in Oakland.  This part of the city is very lively with lots of restaurants, breweries and other activities.  Their apartment is in one of the recently completed buildings nearby.

Waterfront at Jack London Square

We started our visit with a stroll around Jack London Square and they treated us to a wine tasting at Rosenblum Cellars, a winery right on the Oakland waterfront.  Afterward, we had a terrific brunch at Fat Lady restaurant.  In the evening we went to a nearby brewery that was having a comedy night with 5 local stand up comedians.

We started off our Sunday with a nice hike in nearby Redwood Regional Park.  This a huge park with miles of hiking and mountain biking trails in the hills east of Oakland.  There are some nice spots with good views to the west to Oakland and the San Francisco Bay beyond.  After working up a good appetite, we had brunch at one of their favorite spots, the Chop Bar which very recently moved to a new location which is just downstairs from their apartment.  Quite delicious.

Our time with Marcy was all too brief but filled with fun activities, food and beverages.

Next:  Oakley, CA

Frankfurt, Germany

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Frankfurt is unlike any other Germany city.  It is a finance and business hub, home to one of the world’s largest stock exchanges as well as the new headquarters for the European Central Bank.  Its airport is the third largest in Europe.  Due to its soaring skyline and the Main River that runs through it, Frankfurt refers to itself as “Main-hatten”.

Mentioned in historical documents as far back as 794 AD, Frankfurt was an important center for the Holy Roman Empire.  With the election of Frederick I in 1152, the city became the customary site of the selection of Emperors and German Kings.  A stock exchange began operating in Frankfurt in 1585.

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Umatilla, OR

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From Portland we followed the Columbia River east to the town of Umatilla, OR.  Our near term objective is to get to Glacier National Park in Montana and this moved us 200 miles in that direction.  If you haven’t been into the eastern part of Oregon and Washington, it is completely different than the green, wet and mountainous western portion.  This part reminds me very much of California’s central valley, very dry with some gently rolling hills and lots of agriculture.

Umatilla, OR

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Napa, CA

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It became known as the “Judgement of Paris”, perhaps the most famous wine tasting in recent history.  In 1976, a British wine enthusiast named Steve Spurrier set up a competition between the best of California’s Chardonnay and Cabernet wines against wines from France’s Bordeaux and Burgundy.  California wines won in both categories as determined by the panel of 9 French judges.  Needless to say this rocked the wine world and put California’s Napa Valley winemakers on the world stage.

For our visit to Napa Valley we parked at the Skyline Wilderness park located on the south side of the town of Napa.  We did some wine tasting but mostly we visited some of the more interesting wineries, notable for their architecture or art or the view.  Among those we visited:  Beringer, Hall, Inglenook, Chimney Rock, Monticello, Andretti, Del Dotto, Darioush and Artesa.  We also poked around the towns of St. Helena, Yountville and of course, Napa.

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