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How could Ruta del Vino be so unknown?
I hate to even think how many years ago, Randy and I would drive down to Baja California, crossing the border in Tecate, then wend our way down to San Felipe on lightly-traveled roads that wound through the Guadalupe Valley and a small ejido called Santo Tomas, where there was a tiny winery.
What a change a few decades can make!
Earlier in the year, Ryan had taken a trip south and raved about the area and all the wineries, so I was excited when he suggested we go for a couple of days after Christmas. I jumped at the chance to visit and find out for myself. So Ryan and friend, Phil from Tennessee, and I drove down to go wine tasting in that same area. On his earlier visit, he had hired a taxi to drive them around but considering there would be three of us, he chose to hire a guide! Great move!
The plan was to drive down from Hollywood, to arrive at our Airbnb at Rosarito mid-afternoon, spend some time on the beach and head out early the next morning, for a full day of wine-tasting.
Crossing the border between the U.S. And Mexico is always a stark reminder of the disparities between the two countries. On the U.S. Side, the infrastructure is modern; housing is structured; it's all first world. Cross the border and shanty houses cling to the hillsides, their walls barely hanging together. Streets are higgledy piggledy but surprisingly clean. Rules of the road are not always adhered to! Hence the need for additional car insurance.
But the area around Tijuana has developed a lot since I was last there in the early 1990s. Once out of the city and on the toll road heading south, the shoreline is lined with houses and high-rise hotels and condos, although many are sitting unfinished, stark gray skeleton silhouettes against a spectacular ocean view.
The toll road got us to our destination by about 3 and we checked into our charming Airbnb located in La Mision, down on a tiny dead-end side street, one of three apartments that Cathy runs. It's fully equipped, with everything anyone can need for a stay. She even sent up cookies and a cheese a plate to welcome us.
Of course, the first thing we did was head down to the beach. And down it is! I didn't count the steps, but there are a lot, but the climb is well-worth it. The beach is spectacular and as it was low tide, expansive. We walked to the tide pools to the south, passing a group of youngsters playing with fireworks, which are legal in Mexico. Big booms! Also legal are dogs on the beach, which was lovely to see. Dogs off leashes, running and playing unrestricted, ignoring or greeting others without conflict.
On the way back, we climbed up to a bar that is just a couple of doors down from our home for the few days. And celebrated with a real Mexican margarita while watching as the sun slipped lower and lower, creating one of the most magnificent sunsets I have ever seen. Needless to say, I took far too many pictures.
Dinner was at a less-than-memorable restaurant, so much so I don't remember the name! But the wine was good, we were tired and ready to get a good night's sleep in preparation for the big day.
Part 2 ->
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