Travel Tales: Solvang, or The Sassy Bartender

Have you ever seen the movie Sideways?  If you haven’t, you should.  And if you don’t believe me, Rotten Tomatoes has it at 96% fresh, so… yeah.  I forgive you if you thought I was lying.  On paper, I don’t think I would like the movie.  It follows two unlikeable, middle aged men on a road trip to Central California wine country as they celebrate the last week of bachelorhood before one of them gets married.  Despite the unrelatable subject matter to me given that I’m not middle aged or about to get married, I still loved the film.  First, it’s hilarious.  I still remember watching it in a packed theater and laughing along with all the middle-aged wine aficionados surrounding me (according to some, the movie even had an effect on wine sales).  But aside from the comedy, it’s shot beautifully and really showcases Central California in a golden-hued, magical light.  Like any good travelogue-y movie, it made me want to visit.

I’ve watched a lot of movies where I wanted to visit the locations.  The Sound of Music’s Austria, Lord of the Ring’s New Zealand, Vicky Cristina Barcelona’s Spain.  I have yet to visit any of these places, but as far as Sideways went, it was just two hours north from Los Angeles.  A little easier than a twelve hour flight.  And two of my good friends who also loved the movie also wanted to visit.  So we took our own Sideways road trip, minus the mid-life crises.

We thought we were so cool.  No one could possibly have done this before.  So what if there’s a map online listing all of the Sideways locations?  This was an original road trip idea.

We stayed in Solvang at Hotel Corque.  Went on a wine tour.  It was great.  We were the only people there younger than 35-years-old, but that’s what made us trailblazers.  Then we ate at the Hitching Post, a restaurant integral to the plot of the movie.

We get seated, and who should be sitting next to us but another friend of mine from Los Angeles!  He explains he goes up here pretty often, always making sure to hit the big Sideways locations.  Great.  We’re just another group doing the same thing as everyone else.  Our feeling of lameness continued when we visited a wine bar later that night.  The female bartender gave us one look and said, “Let me guess.  You’re all from LA and came up here because of Sideways?”  Of course we lied and said that wasn’t the reason, but she knew.

We still had a good time, though.  And really, how was our Sideways road trip any different than taking a picture of the Eiffel Tower or the Sydney Opera House?  It’s what people do.  In some small way, doing the same thing as everyone else connects us together.  And what better way to feel closer to your fellow man than to get drunk in Wine Country?

Oct 2012
POSTED BY travelbugrobert

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