Road Trip #3: Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park was definitely one of the highlights of this road trip. We chose to stay in a bed and breakfast, Little Ahwahnee Inn rather than one of the bigger lodges. We did visit both Tenaya Lodge and Ahwahnee Hotel for food and both felt very busy compared to the peace and quiet of the B&B. Grant and Beth were delightful hosts and the breakfast delicious. Beth has always lived around this area so can give very helpful advice on where to go. They also check on any fire threats and road closures of which there were both on this visit. You could actually smell the smoke in the air and realise how easily things can change in Yosemite. There is plenty to do here and we easily filled our two days. 

Little Ahwahnee Inn was a short drive from the South Gate entrance to the Park so provided easy access. A $20 ticket for the car (and occupants) lasts for seven days, you just need to keep the receipt. From this gate it is also only a short distance to Mariposa Grove, home of the giant sequoias which is definitely worth a visit. You have to see Grizzly Giant and stand (get a photo) in the California Tunnel Tree. Apparently they are about to pull the car park up here so it might be difficult to visit in the next twelve months.

The hike up to Vernal Falls was also worth it, although it is very hot in the summer so make sure you take enough water. I must confess I thought it would be easier than it was- you have been warned. Other highlights included stunning views from Taft Point, Tunnel View, Glacier Point and the imposing easily accessible Sentinel Dome. We decided to just look at Half Dome rather than climb it, the idea of getting a pass to climb it put us off not to mention the fact you have to pull yourself with ropes to get to the top of it!

The Ahwahnee Hotel proved a lovely stop for lunch. I can't believe this hotel had once been attacked by fire and has been rebuilt with faux wood. Sitting on a table outside surrounded by the beauty of Yosemite National Park will live in my memory. For dinner, we chose to eat at the Bar & Grill at Tenaya Lodge and Narrow Gauge Inn which were both close by. I preferred Narrow Gauge which served delicious food in a candlelit atmosphere transporting you back in time.

Yosemite provided a very enjoyable couple of days but it was time to move on....

Road Trip: #2 Sausalito, San Francisco

Instead of staying in San Francisco we decided to stay in Sausalito, a waterfront community reached by a quick ferry ride across the bay or by car via the Golden Gate Bridge. And am I glad we did. The delightful Inn Above Tide (review to come) was a perfect home for two nights and Sausalito, the perfect base. A lively town with the ferry on our doorstep and a mini heatwave...definitely my kind of place. With more time it would have been easy to rent bikes or kayaks...definitely no shortage of things to do.

I think San Francisco reminded me just how important it is to check details. I'm usually thorough but on this occasion I missed the fact that Marlowe restaurant closed on a Saturday lunchtime. Let's just say it took a decent walk to find it after which my husband was none too pleased. On the upside we did find the baseball stadium and a different part of town to look at.

I would recommend La Mar, a Peruvian restaurant, for a bite to eat in San Francisco. I have to confess this was a tip from @PandoraSkies via Twitter and it did indeed prove excellent advice. Happy Hour at the bar was also easy on the wallet!

In Sausalito, we ate at Poggio, an Italian restaurant which to be honest doesn't stick in my mind. Decent enough but I wish instead I had tried Barrel House, one of the newer additions to the Sausalito scene.

 

Road Trip: #1 California Wine Country

It's really difficult choosing where to stay when you're just reading from a guidebook. So after much deliberation I decided on Healdsburg and couldn't have chosen better. Healdsburg is a small pretty town, north of Napa, where you can wander around the shops, stop at the numerous wine tasting rooms or take a seat in the square and people watch to your heart's content.

We stayed at the H2 hotel (review to come) which proved to be a an excellent option. The hotel had complimentary bikes and after cycling around the vineyards in the sizzling temperatures,  it was a treat to cool off in the small swimming pool.

Of course Healdsburg is all about wine and it's good fun to visit the tasting rooms. We visited two, Williamson and La Crema. I would definitely recommend Williamson, complimentary wine tasting with cheese and a delightful host in the name of Tyler. 

It is impossible to try all the dining options available in a couple of days, I would have liked to have tried Spoonbar in our hotel but didn't have time. We opted for Scopa and Barndiva. Both were good, Scopa is a small lively Italian and Barndiva provided excellent food in a lovely setting, think outside tables and twinkly lights.

On leaving Healdsburg we headed down to San Francisco calling off at Yountville and Napa on the way. Yountville (Keller Town!), home of The French Laundry  is also pleasant in a manicured kind of way and Napa is much bigger and more commercial. This made me realise Healdsburg was definitely the right choice for me!

 

After The Grand Depart...Yorkshire's Finest

It has been a special weekend in Yorkshire and the Grand Depart showcased the region for the world to see. An occasion not to be missed, I proudly lined the way and cheered on the cyclists before the official start at Harewood House. If you thought Yorkshire was just about flat caps, flying whippets and Hovis adverts then think again...Yorkshire rocks!

My view of the famous race.

My view of the famous race.

Not a native of Yorkshire but having lived here for more than a few years, here are some old favourites, new openings and places you might want to try.

A recent opening in Leeds, The Man Behind the Curtain is a new restaurant by Michael O 'Hare. I haven't made it yet but have heard good things. 

Team Sky stayed at Rudding Park, one of my old favourites, located just outside Harrogate.  Choose the newer Follifoot rooms for luxury accommodation here.

In Harrogate, enjoy a cup of tea and a slice of cake at world famous Yorkshire Tea Rooms, Bettys or if you're after a more fine dining experience try Van Zeller which comes personally highly recommended.

Swinton Park offers luxury hotel accommodation in a peaceful setting near Ripon (another one I need to try!) of if you are looking for a luxury self catering break visit Gorgeous Cottages.

Studford Luxury Lodges opened earlier this year and can be found in the North York Moors National Park. Each lodge has its own spacious decking, hot tub and sauna.

Studford Luxury Lodges

Studford Luxury Lodges

A tiny selection of what Yorkshire has to offer but one thing's for sure it's not short on luxury. 

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