Travel

Narratives of my various adventures.

A Mural Tour in the Mission

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I love murals. As with all art, however, I don’t understand the history or technique of what I’m gaping at, so I was excited when my friend invited me to check out the Precita Eyes Muralists tour with her. Precita Eyes is an association of artists who work with the San Francisco Mission community to create and preserve mural artwork on the area’s many decorated businesses and personal residences. They sponsor proposals to bring about new murals, teach child and youth art classes, and take the lead in restoring many of the murals that have been in the area for the nearly 40 years of the organization’s existence.

Tours are held every weekend for $20 per adult—check the website for the full range of prices and tour types. We took the classic tour.

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It begins at the Precita Arts Center at 2981 24th Street with an informative—and appreciatively short—slideshow of the history of muralists and the murals done by notable artists within San Francisco. Our first in-the-flesh mural was seen as we exited the makeshift theater and entered the gift shop.

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Why yes, that is a ballerina skeleton! I thought it was beautifully colorful and fun, and the artist is none other than Patricia Rose, who is likely to be your tour guide as well as she is the director of the tours program.

Patricia Rose, showing off electrical-box art.

Patricia Rose, showing off electrical-box art.

Make sure you take the time to explore the gift shop. It has several early sketches for large-scale murals on the walls in addition to a lot of really interesting souvenir items. More interesting than another magnet of Alcatraz Island, I promise you.

From the Precita Eyes center, we stopped at the Harrison and 24th St. intersection to check out the restoration work of their young muralists.

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Working with a pre-existing piece, the artists expanded on the theme of Aztec legends to create a vivid mural for the community to enjoy. Right across the street is another example of how talented young artists can be.

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That mural decorates the bottom floor of the Missions Girls center, and the Mission Girls were responsible for its creation. It’s a wonderful example of paint mimicking graffiti artwork.

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Wine Tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains

View from Loma Prieta Winery. Click twice to magnify.

View from Loma Prieta Winery. Click twice to magnify.

For Christmas, the darling husband bought us Santa Cruz Mountains wine passports, an excellent gift. I wasn’t a wine drinker when I lived in Santa Cruz, so now that I’m in the Bay, I’ve wanted to try what that designation has to offer. Plus, any excuse for a weekend in Santa Cruz is a good one for me.

The passports are $45 each and entitle you to one tasting at each of the participating wineries over a 2-year period. The passports themselves have detailed information on the wineries, their locations, and their hours, and they are intended for use on the quarterly Passport Days, during which some wineries normally closed to the public open their doors. But they are also valid any day of the year during regular operating hours—or at least they are supposed to be. We encountered resistance to that at one winery, which only honors it on Passport Days. Everywhere else let us in no problem.

And the wine passport is a great deal. We plotted a course essentially following Soquel-San Jose Road through the mountains, planning to hit up however many wineries we could handle in an afternoon. There are roughly eight participating wineries in reasonable distances from the main road.

We started at Bargetto, right outside of Santa Cruz on North Main Street in Soquel.

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This winery has a gorgeous creekside location, with a large deck under the trees.

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Santa_Cruz_Wine_Tasting_02The tasting room is really nice as well, though under construction against the back wall when we were there.

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Our wine pourer, a retired police officer, was pleasant and laid back. I fell a bit in love with their 2011 Chardonnay, which I’ll review on its own once I get to drinking it.

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A Foodie Day Trip to Sonoma

A view from Homewood Winery.

A view from Homewood Winery.

My first visit to Sonoma took place a few days before Thanksgiving 2013. It was a quick jaunt into the winery-laden countryside not so far from San Francisco. The downtown area is very cute, full of alleyways and courtyards that hide a range of stores and tasting rooms.

Entering one such alleyway

Entering one such alleyway

And exiting another.

Of course, I managed to eat and wine-taste the afternoon away quite easily. The Highway 12 Winery Tasting Room is a great place to start due to its central location at the corner of 1st Street and Highway 12.

On the corner!

On the corner!

The tasting was free, possibly because it was a lazy Monday. Highway 12 features wines from a variety of Sonoma-area vineyards, and the wine pourer was happy to guide my friend, who was on her first wine-tasting experience, toward the sweeter wines that she preferred.

Walking up First Street afterward, we found ourselves passing by the beautiful old Sebastiani Theatre–

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–and stumbling across the San Francisco Solano mission up the next block.

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We didn’t linger on sightseeing, however. Wine and food was our game plan. So I focused in on the Chocolate Cow (452 1st St. E #F) down this row of storefronts.

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Their Thanksgiving pumpkin and turkey chocolates were beautiful.

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