Monday, May 12th:
A total free day! We had no tour-scheduled activities! We were on our own! And what did we do? Laundry!!! The hotel had a free washing machine and a dryer, in the gym room , so after getting up late this morning, Marité took our slightly dirty clothes to do the laundry. I, in the meantime, went to a Starbucks across the hotel for a nice “tall Americano”, plus a blueberry scone. (I usually have this for breakfast on Sundays, but there was no Starbucks near the hotel in Merced, or on the way to Yosemite.) I also, picked up a decaf cappuccino for Marité and brought everything back to the hotel. Marité had come back to our room, because there was a long wait to do the laundry, as other ladies in our group had the same idea. So, we enjoyed our coffees and decided to do something else this morning.
We had been told that there was an interesting Railroad Museum, just a few blocks from the hotel, so we went to visit it. It was definitely worthwhile. There are about 100 well preserved locomotives and railroad cars, some of them true works of art. Also, they had related exhibits telling the story of the building of the transcontinental railroad, memorabilia and photography connected to railroading and a huge display of running model trains.
We wandered around Old Sacramento, which is a restored area of what Sacramento looked in the 1860’s. Of course, now most of the Gold Rush-era structures now house stores that sell T-shirts, souvenirs and other stuff for tourists, not wares for gold diggers. But, also there some remarkable buildings replicas of California’s first theater that opened in 1849, the first schoolhouse also build in 1849 and the restored B.F. Hastings building, which served as the terminus of the Pony Express and also housed, for a time, the chambers of the California Supreme Court.
Having overcome my stomach problems, I was ready to have a decent lunch and we found what looked like a nice restaurant: The Firehouse, which we found out had previously been the residence of Sacramento’s Engine Company No. 3 and had been build in 1853. They had tables in a beautiful tree-covered courtyard, which was very cozy and the food was excellent. If you find yourself in Sacramento and are looking for a good restaurant, we highly recommend The Firehouse.
Back to the hotel, Marité finally got her opportunity to do the laundry and I had my chance to do the ironing afterwards. By late afternoon, we went out again. This time we headed towards the State Capitol, which closely resembles a scale model of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. We hoped that we might run into Arnold “the governator” Schwarzenegger, but we didn’t. The building was already closed. Anyway, we enjoyed the flower gardens and some interesting memorial statuary.
For dinner, we went to a restaurant call Joe’s, on the Sacramento River. The place was quite full and noisy, but had an attractive menu. We were seated next to a window panel and enjoyed the view of the river at sunset, while we eat a decent broiled fish platter.
Then, back to the hotel, once more to prepare our bags. We were continuing our journey the following day. Our destination: San Francisco.