Monday, May 4, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Ione, Preston Castle


Preston Castle  900 Palm Dr., in Ione, (209) 256-3623.  Tour Sat 10-1, Apr-Sept.  $10, 6-12 $5.  Built atop a hill in 1894 in the Romanesque Revival style of architecture, and using hand-carved Ione sandstone and bricks from Folsom, this massive building was a boy’s reform school until 1960.  Owls and bats live here now.  One of the oldest reform schools in the country, it saved delinquents as young as 8 from being sent to prisons such as Alcatraz and Folsom.  Celebrity inmates include Beatnik Neal Cassidy, country-music singer Merle Haggard, and actor Eddie Anderson (he played Rochester on Jack Bennie’s show).  But infamous killer Caryl Chessman was also confined here.  The tour includes seeing a massive dormitory room and a vertical circular “waterslide” on the second floor, and hearing the story of the female staff member who was killed in the kitchen pantry in 1950 (the killer was never found).  Not surprisingly, many people think the place is haunted.  Though the inside has been ravaged, the plan is to restore it and perhaps even  eventually turn it into a restaurant and lodging.  “Ghost Hunters”, and “The Great Escape” TV shows have filmed here.  Special events include ghost-hunting nights--when participants bring their own sleeping bags--and an annual Halloween haunt. 

exterior of Preston Castle in Ione, California

interior of Preston Castle in Ione, California

More things to do in nearby Sutter Creek.

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.
 
Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, May 1, 2015

San Francisco: Madame Tussauds San Francisco and The San Francisco Dungeon

exterior of Madame Tussauds San Francisco
Madame Tussauds San Francisco  145 Jefferson St./Taylor St., Fisherman’s Wharf, (855) 753-9999.  Daily 10am-8pm.  $26, 4-12 $20.  You can hang out front with Johnnie Depp or the Royal Family for free, but this will likely entice you to pay the entry so you can do more.  I was surprised to be told that it was ok to touch and get up close and personal with the iconic celebrity figures inside.  Though I had my companion take pictures of me with almost every figure, I did find it creepy to actually touch them.  And the only way I could tell for sure they weren’t real was to check that they didn’t blink.  One factoid is that hair is inserted by hand—strand by strand—and it can take up to five weeks just for one figure.  Celebs are broken into categories, so Janis is in the Spirit of San Francisco section, Elvis is in the music section, Marilyn is in the film section, and George is in the A-List Party section (you can cozy up to him on a couch).  A few tips:  make sure your camera battery is charged; and dress nicely so that your friends might actually believe you were hanging with the stars.  Many discounted coupons available.

travel writer Carole Terwilliger Meyers with Johnnie Depp at Madame Tussauds San Francisco
Carole Terwilliger Meyers with Elvis at Madame Tussauds San Francisco
 
The San Francisco Dungeon  Adjacent.  From 10am.  $19-$26.  Recommended for age 10+.  The first such attraction in North America, this subterranean walking tour takes you through San Francisco’s sordid past.  Actors bring stories to life with the help of atmospheric sets, special effects, and a boat “ride.”  The journey keeps you moving, and though surprises evoke a few screams and squeals, they also elicits smiles, and you might even become part of the show.

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.  

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers and Gene Meyers



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

880 South: Oakland, Cholita Linda


Cholita Linda  4923 Telegraph Ave./51st St., Temescal, (510) 594-7610.  L-D M–Sat.  In this festive, colorful, high-ceilinged spot, salsa music is loud, potted plants are tall, and big windows let in plenty of light.  Order at the counter, then select a seat.  The menu blends Mexican, Peruvian, and a few other cuisines.  Soft corn-tortilla tacos are the go-to dish here, and the delicate fried-fish and tasty carnitas versions are my own favorites.  I hear good things about the carne asada and tender, flavorful pollo al pastor (using spit-roasted chicken), and a tofu version is also an option.  All tacos are enhanced with cabbage slaw and baja crema.  Sides include fried plantains (5 pieces), a good but simple rice and beans, and chips with salsa or guacamole.  Aguas frescas are served in a tall Ball canning jar (mango, strawberry, and blackberry are usually an option, and combining them is permitted).  Larger plates and sandwiches are available, including a Cubano Sandwich described as “excellent!” that is made with pulled pork shoulder, black forest ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, pickles, and aioli and on crunchy grilled French bread.  Outside seating is available on a small back patio. 
    After, you’re just a hop, skip, and jump from the shops of Temescal Alley

interior of Cholita Linda in Oakland, California

tacos at Cholita Linda in Oakland, California

More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways. 

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers; last image courtesy of Sagrada website


Monday, April 27, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Amador City, Buffalo Chips Emporium

update/p.361

Buffalo Chips Emporium  14175 Hwy. 49, (209) 267-0570.  B-L W-Sun; $.  No cards.  Some folks buy just a simple cone here and then sit outside on one of the weathered benches to leisurely watch the busy world drive by.  Others prefer to sit inside what was once the town's Wells Fargo Bank and indulge in a fancy fountain item.  Breakfast includes omelettes; lunch brings on sandwiches and burgers; and the house specialty is homemade pie.  Many of the antique decorations are for sale.

Buffalo Chips Emporium in Amador City, California

sign at Buffalo Chips Emporium in Amador City, California

candy counter at Buffalo Chips Emporium in Amador City, California
Buffalo Chips Emporium on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Amador City.

More things to do in nearby Sutter Creek.

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.
 
Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, April 17, 2015

San Francisco: The Pub at Ghirardelli Square


The Pub at Ghirardelli Square  851 Beach St./Hyde St., in Ghirardelli Square, (415) 351-0500.  L-D daily; $$.  Not your typical dark Irish pub, this sleek spot has a bright contemporary industrial decor accented with rustic grey-wood wall planks and leather banquettes.  It is located on the ground floor of Ghirardelli Square and opens to the street and park and to views of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.  Music is loud and surfaces are hard, so it gets noisy.  It is the antithisis of cozy, yet welcoming.  Booths and sidewalk tables with bay views are also available. 
bar at The Pub at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco

The best news, though, is that the kitchen produces some excellent barbeque, and prices are fair for this touristy area.  I loved my pulled pork sandwich topped with slaw, and the brisket with its exceptional sauce is outstanding.
pulled pork sandwich at The Pub at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco

brisket at The Pub at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco

We accented the dishes perfectly with a draft Lagunitas IPA and Stella Artois Lager.  Raves are also given to the burgers—the Gucci with mushrooms and truffle aioli, the espresso rub with bacon and blue cheese (decaf is not an option), and the quinoa and kale for vegetarians—and to the mac & cheese—choose the version with foie gras, truffle, chili, or blue cheese with buffalo-wing sauce.  The Tommy tater tots tossed in a sweet-spicy sauce with blue cheese and the southern fried chicken also interested me but there simply was no space.  Portions are generous.  The perfect dessert is chocolate chip cookies made with Ghirardelli chocolate, but you can also wander up into the square and get a famous sundae.
chocolate chip cookies at The Pub at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco
The Pub at Ghirardelli Square on Urbanspoon

 More things to do at Ghirardelli Square. 

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.  

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers