Kiyomizu Dera Temple | Kyoto, Japan – Day 5January 19, 2018
Bamboo Forest, Tenryu-ji Temple & the Golden Pavilion | Kyoto, Japan – Day 6November 14, 2018
Napa Valley is every wine connoisseur's wet dream. Home to over 400 wineries and 815 wine brands, it rightfully earns the title of "wine country". The Napa Valley region was devastated by wildfires in October 2017 that sadly destroyed over 600 buildings. Despite this tragic event, much of the area has been rebuilt, revived and ready to welcome visitors with open arms.
For Philip and I’s 2 year wedding anniversary, we decided to take a mini vacation to Napa for a small celebration. Our day started in Calistoga, known for its natural hot springs. We booked a couple’s mud bath at Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa & Resort
which included the hot springs mineral jacuzzi and blanket wrap.
The mixture of clay, peat, and hot springs mineral water in the mud is known to relieve muscle and joint aches and pains, detoxifies your body, softens your skin, and improves circulation. We drove through the quaint town of Calistoga, which has a number of small shops and a nice view of the hills. When we arrived at the spa, we were greeted by the staff and escorted to the changing room. Once inside, we immediately noticed the sulfur smell from the hot spring water, especially when we entered the mud bath room.
For the couples mud bath, you are placed in a room with an L-shaped tube filled with mud, two showers and a big Jacuzzi tub. You start by lowering yourself into the mud - you don't just sink in - you basically wiggle and bury yourself. It was very hot, but still very comfortable and relaxing. 10 minutes was more than enough time because we were sweating! We then "slide" out of the mud, showered, and relaxed some more in the Jacuzzi. The Jacuzzi water has mineral water so there is no chlorine. We ended our couples spa with a "blanket wrap" where you lay down in a dark quiet room with a soft blanket covering your body and a cold cloth on your forehead. Overall it was an interesting experience and recommend to anyone who doesn't mind getting a little dirty.
After our spa, we drove to one of my favorite wineries, Castello Di Amorosa
. Castello Di Amorosa is a 13th century style medieval castle/winery on a hill surrounded with a moat, and Devine vineyards. We did not take the tour this time since we went on the tour two years prior, but I highly recommend it as you get explore the inside of the castle and see some other interesting
features that the castle has. Be sure to get a bottle of La Fantasia, as it is their most popular wine.
, another one of my favorite wineries, was next on our list to visit. V. Sattui is a small winery with a vast wine and cheese selection, a deli, and a huge lawn that is perfect for a picnic. The grounds are simply beautiful! We ordered a sandwich from the deli (meatball marinara), laid on the grass and people watched. Afterwards, we headed to A & W for a nice cold root beer float for just $1.99
BONUS: just across the street from V. Sattui - check out the Steel Bunny Foo Foo Statue looking badass with its green light saber, in honor of May the Fourth for the Star Wars nerds out there.
We then headed to Downtown Napa, where we had dinner tickets to the famous Wine Train
. Now if you know me, you know I hate paying full price for anything and everything. Lucky for me, the Napa Valley Wine Train offers promotions ever so often so we were able to get our tickets for 20% off. You can also purchase discount tickets from Costco, however they sell out fast. The ticket includes the train fare, a multicourse gourmet meal, a tasting of the Napa Valley Wine Train’s private label wine, and on-board coffee and tea. For a fee, you can bring your own bottle of wine to drink. The ride takes you through the lovely neighboring towns Oak Knoll, Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford and lasts about three hours.
There is a small foot bridge that connects the train station and the boarding platform that they call the "Love Lock Bridge". Couples can take a padlock, write their names or a special date and lock it to the bridge fence. You then can toss the key into the swale below the bridge or hold onto it as a keepsake. The station sells antique locks but I bought my own from the Dollar Tree.
After exploring the station, we were called to board the train. You are given assigned seats in accordance to how early you checked in. The train does two seatings for dinner and luckily we were able to get a spot on the first seating. We sat down and admired all the little details of the train. After ordering, the train slowly came to start and our dining experience began.
First course: Soup of the Day - Pumpkin Soup. So creamy and rich with flavor!
Second Course: Sliced Roasted Beef Tenderloin, Medium Rare with Fingerling Potatoes, Asparagus, Wild Mushrooms, Caramelized Shallots, Ruby Port Reduction. This entree was cooked to perfection and also plated beautifully. The tenderloin was juicy and had lots of flavor. It was excellently paired with Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon 2014.
Accompanying Drinks: Vineyard Rendezous (Left) & Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon (Right)
Dessert: Vanilla Creme Bake with Strawberries and White Chocolate Drizzle (Left) & Salted Caramel Custard topped with Chocolate Covered Almonds and Cherries (Right). For dessert, you are escorted to the lounge while the staff cleans and sets up for the next dinner. This gives you a chance to relax while you eat dessert, drink coffee, and admire the Napa Valley scenery.
After a day filled with lots of love, relaxation and wine, we were ready to head home and cuddle with our stinky dog, Stitch.
Here’s to two years of marriage and the many years to come, cheers!