Date: May 26, 2012
This time, our wanderlust led us to visit the Capital of California, Sacramento. The city is well-known for its magnificent State Capitol building and also the riverfront historic district. Eager to see these sights, we set off on a 2 hour drive from Fremont.
In order to get to the first destination (the State Capitol), we had to take the street called Capitol Mall. The modern shopping culture has the word “mall” ingrained into our brains as a place to do shopping, but this mall turned out to be rather different – a wide broad street, lined with stately shady trees, quaint pedestrian side alleys, and neat buildings of the monumental/governmental type. The overall impression was of a well-tended garden, especially when we reached the large park surrounding the Capitol.
California State Capitol
California State Capitol is built in the Neoclassical style, with an impressive facade. It is said to be one of the best examples of this style in California.
Inside the building, I wanted to see two things: the former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrait on the wall, and the inside view of the dome (the guidebook really raved about it). The inside of the dome turned out to be, indeed, quite beautiful. Unfortunately, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrait was not to be found. We found a long corridor with many portraits of different governors, but they ended just short of Arnold’s. However, we did manage to find the current governor’s office, which had a bronze bear sculpture near the entrance (apparently brought there and left there by Arnold).
Old Sacramento Historic District
When we arrived at the Old Sacramento, we found it to be overrun by throngs of people. Apparently, the historic district was hosting a Jazz Festival that very weekend. I still haven’t fully decided whether it was a good thing or a bad thing. On the positive side, it was nice to be hearing live music on every corner. On the other hand, any hopes of having an “old town” experience were dashed – it was way too crowded & touristy.
Fortunately, some of the small history museums were open despite the festival. We visited the old school house and the Wells Fargo History Museum, both of which had curious artifacts from the Gold Rush period. My favorite were the printouts listing the rules that the school teachers had to follow, including some silly things like “skirt has to be long enough to cover ankles” and “no going outside of the school house after 8 o’clock”. I am happy to be living in the 21st century
The touristy nature of Old Sacramento, unfortunately, meant that it was very difficult to find a decent and reasonably priced restaurant. We checked out a couple of places and finally gave up, heading towards our hotel (in city of Woodland) in hopes of finding better options. We had some great Indian food at a place called Top Himalaya Restaurant, and retreated to the hotel to plan the next day’s activities – a trip to one of the hydraulic gold mining operations in the area. Stay tuned and read about it in the next post!