Today is the BIG day, the real birthday celebration for Mom. The day of the Napa Valley Wine Train Tour! We woke up to Juanita’s surprise of a champagne toast, we made mimosa’s and toasted the birthday girl. 70 years old and still looks like she’s in her 50’s…Happy Birthday Angie! We all got dressed a little on the fancier side, since we were riding the the First Class vista dome car! We walked over to pick up the rental car and of course stopped at our favorite breakfast place, Boudin (after all it was on the way). We had coffee and kept breakfast light, we had a big, 4 course lunch coming on the train and we did not want to spoil it.
Juanita drove us to Napa, where the train station was. It took about an hour and fifteen minutes, which just flew by because of our non stop conversation and laughter, great times! We arrived at the station about 40 minutes prior to boarding and checked in. We received our boarding passes and they also gave us each a special little pin that we were told to put on our clothes, it was so special and beautiful and unexpected! The station had luxurious couches, 2 wine bars (of course) and 2 very nice gift shops. We sat at a table at one of the bars and decided to have more mimosas…well actually the Birthday Girl had a mimosa and Juanie and Ces had cran-mosas, which were super tasty and tart.
The voice came over the intercom and it was time for us to board. There was a super cupie, old timey conductor guiding us in the right direction. We felt so special going to the First Class Car and when we walked inside it was gorgeous! The tables were set with white linens and shiny silverware and the dome was amazing. Shortly after being seated, our server came over and introduced himself, his name was Froy and he was very sweet and accommodating. He offered to get us wine and waters, poor La Sue was freezing and asked for hot tea, when he returned he brought her over a blanket, how cupe is that?
The train started moving and we were on our way to our destination, the castle winery “Castello Di Amorosa”. The views form the dome were amazing (did I mention, it was yet another perfect, cloud free day?), winery after winery, even some names we recognized. We studied the menus and made our choices, each of us got different dishes so we could all try a little bit of everything. We also ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for the table, which seemed to pair best with our variety of choices and made Angie very happy (since she only likes white wine, ja ja). The four courses came out timed perfectly and were better than we even imagined.
After finishing our meals, Froy came to the table with presents! We were so surprised, he gave us each a champagne flute etched with the wine train logo and also gave the Birthday Girl a beautiful set of cork coasters, also with the train logo on them. Then he informed us that we were to be given a guided tour of the train….all the cars and kitchen. I don’t think we even realized that was part of the deal, what a fun surprise and so cool to really see it all. The train had some rail cars that were 100 years old and each one was a little different ranging from 1920’s Art Deco style to the Old West. The train stopped and Froy took us to the exit and we said our goodbyes, we had finally arrived at our destination.
We were loaded onto a limo bus (there were about 15 of us) and were driven to the winery from the station. On the way over, we saw some amazing homes and wineries and the landscape was looking more and more like Tuscany. When we drove through the gates we saw the castle up ahead, so big and beautiful. The castle itself was built not too long ago, but the owner went to great lengths to make it as close to a medieval castle in Tuscany as possible, even importing some bricks, stone and artifacts. Our tour guide was a great guy named Steven K. who looked and sounded like he could have been a Kane brother (Uncle John’s generation). We asked what the K stood for, and no, it wasn’t Kane but a name so complex we can’t even remember it. He was a fabulous guide, his love of wine and the winery was obvious in his passionate descriptions and stories. When we got to the tasting room we were given a list of all the wines we were going to taste. Angie was able to taste 2 of the 10 before she said “No mas…girls, I a little bit tipsy”. During the tasting we learned more about Steve, he was actually from NY and went to Manhattan college in the Bronx! No wonder we thought he could be a Kane.
We finished the tasting and the tour, we said goodbye and thank you to Steve and headed toward the exit. Juanita ordered some wine which was to be delivered directly to NY and La Sue got herself a cupie hat. We loaded up into the limo again which took us directly back to the station where our car was parked. Before heading back, we stopped in the gift shops and Juanie got David a really nice tee and one for herself too. Since La Sue was the only one who didn’t drink, she was in charge of the drive home. The GPS took us a different route and we actually drove through downtown Napa, which was very cool to see.
When we made it back to the hotel, Juanie and Ces dropped Suzy and Angie off, while they went to return the car (thanks guys!). We were all pretty exhausted and could not believe that Juanita and Ceci had to get an Uber first thing in the morning and head to the airport. How did it all go by so quickly? We chillaxed, talked and went over the happenings of the day. After getting our second wind, we decided it was time to head back out and do a little souvenir shopping. We stopped at the amazing gift shop at the Boudin Bakery where Juanita got some really cool stuff and then headed to pier 39. On the way over we saw Kenny the clown and Juanita paid him to make Mom a birthday hat out of balloons, he made this amazing tricolor creation that barely fit on Mom’s head, but she wore it proudly. There were lots of souvenir shops at pier 39 and a super awesome juggler performing shirtless. Mom had been looking at some charms with either a bridge or a cable car and she found one that also had her name on it, she loved it but she didn’t want to spend the money on herself.
After we were finished shopping we were all feeling a little hungry again, Juanita and Ceci wanted to try a famous In-N-Out Burger, there was one right on the wharf. La Sue was looking for some hot soup, she was feeling chilled again…(uh-oh). Mom went with Suzy back to Boudin where they got some hot tomato soup and Juanita and Ces went to the In-N-Out Burger which was just a few doors down on the way back to the hotel. We all met up afterwards, and went back up to the room so Juanita and Ceci could start getting their stuff organized. The sadness really set in when the girls started to pack and all of a sudden, La Ces tossed a bag in the air and said “For you Angie”. She had gotten the charm necklace for Mom, the one with her name on it and a cable car! Mom was so surprised….she couldn’t believe it. We all reminisced and talked about how awesome everything had been and how sad we were that Juanita and Ceci were leaving and never had a chance to ride a cable car. Mom and Suzy had that at the top of the list of things to do for the morning.