Sunday, 26 February 2017

Week 45 - San Diego

When I used to think of the Greyhound, I’d think of those old buses that looked like tin cans and stopped here, there and everywhere picking up passengers and ex-cons, mainly because of what you see on TV and in the movies. Turns out that they’re actually a pretty good bus company, with cozy depots complete with restaurants and toilets, new buses with wifi and toilets and an express service that actually goes to schedule. Our journey from LA to San Diego actually arrived 20 minutes early and dropped us right in the centre of the city and next to the trolley station, the perfect stop. The trolley is like a train/tram and has 3 main routes around San Diego, one of which stops right outside our resting place in Rio Vista. We lucked out with this Air B&B, especially after learning that our last one in L.A was in the biggest ghetto, we found ourselves in a total “American” apartment complex. Oh yes, this is the epitome of American real estate with a one way system that takes traffic around huge water fountains, surrounded by fake grass, 2 onsite gyms, 3 pools and a coffee shop. You can even complete your day at the spa or take a trip to the beauty salon. It’s safe to say that our room here at Lee’s house is very nice and cozy.

Once we’d dumped our bags, showered and changed we headed to PB (Pacific Beach) for tea and a few drinks. What struck me straight away about San Diego is the cleanliness and the care taken about this city, we soon learnt that are a lot of retirees and college students here along with 4 marine bases so things are a little safer and friendly than in LA. Pacific Beach was a nice place to hang out, and we enjoyed some beers but didn’t enjoy the bill afterwards, turns out drinking here isn’t all that cheap after all.  

I’m starting to enjoy not having a car again, I mean we loved Eric but he made us lazy, now we actually have to walk around it allows us to get lost and really explore a place, like we used to in China and Japan. We covered a good 7 miles on our first day in San Diego, starting at the Gaslamp Quarter. Here streets are lined with bars, clubs and restaurants, people in business attire and many tourists lazing around, enjoying a whisky with their burger at 11 in the morning. From here we walked by the Convention Centre to the marina and Seaport village, a cute little complex of shops and restaurants sitting on the waters edge. You can purchase all kinds of foods, tourist tat, hire paddle boards and boats, or sit on the pier and watch the huge pelicans flying by, (I spent a lot of time hoping we wouldn’t get pooped on and knocked out). 

With the weather finally on our side we continued walking along the water to The Greatest Generation walk. Located on Tuna Harbour Park a collection of U.S military heritage art lines the pier, including statues of sailors and Bob Hope. This art is inspired by a book whose author was Tom Brokaw, his story told of Americans who were around during the great depression and helped to shape post-war America. We also got to see a huge navy boat topped with loads of planes ready for deployment and now used as a maritime museum. From here we continued on, avoiding the cycle tours, past the whale watching rides (Kyle wouldn’t part with $80 for us to go on one), to the Star of India. A ship built in the Isle of Man in 1963 used to sail from Great Britain to India and New Zealand, before becoming a salmon fishing boat between Alaska and California and finally a museum here in San Diego. 

I was gutted when we got to Little Italy and Kyle said he wasn’t hungry. We walked up the whole of India Street (yep, confused me too) with smells of fresh pasta and pizza, looking in restaurant windows under the fairy lights and even sat on the huge red chair, but still Kyle wasn’t in the mood for food…I was bloody starving after all that walking, but with a promise of returning another night, we caught the trolley back to our accommodation. 

When the sun is shining what is better than a day at the beach? Blue skies and sunshine looked promising, so we got our swimwear, shorts and suncream and headed to the beach…what we actually should of got were wooly hats, gloves and a jacket, it was fucking freezing. To be fair Mission Beach was lovely, with clean, golden sand and a dark blue ocean it looked really appealing, but the wind totally put me off, even the daft sods emerging from the sea looked like they regretted going for a swim. So after a stroll around Belmont Park, a 1960’s theme park for kids complete with wooden rollercoaster and strong man machine, we walked up the boardwalk to Pacific Beach.  Pacific Beach is more of a young, college hang out complete with roudy bars, drink offers and surf shops. Surf shops that offered pretty reasonable rental rates, but suffering from man flu and not feeling the waves Kyle passed up the opportunity to surf California’s waters…I know I was shocked too. 

Old Town San Diego is a National Park that marks the site of the first Spanish settlement on the West Coast of America. Here you can visit historical sites, shops and early California style restaurants, a theatre and museums. It was like a true step back in time, especially with the inclusion of the people in costume, the school teacher in San Diego’s first public school certainly kept Kyle in check. I was just gutted we’d had breakfast as the smells from the restaurants were divine. Walking around the park felt like a mixture of Mexico and an old Wild West town, what with the combination of taco stalls, day of the dead masks and cigar shops and bars. We were even lucky enough to catch the Saturday market, where local people were selling lots of hand made goods including honey, soaps and ponchos. 

Not content with a morning in the Old Town we caught a bus to Balboa Park. A 1200 acre urban cultural park made up of grassy rest areas, fountains, walking paths, food stalls, street entertainers, a tram, bike paths and 17 museums…including the Museum of Man, The National History Museum and the Globe. Though my favourite part of the park was the leash free area for dogs, I’ve never seen so many dogs and puppies looking so happy running around together in a huge open space, they even had their own drinking fountain with dog friendly buttons. I really wanted to go in, but didn’t think it was appropriate not having a dog and all. Instead we ventured around the sculpture park and the botanical garden, enjoyed music played on both the violin and ukele, before resting up and watching some acrobatics around the fountain. Kyle got a little distracted when some snoop-dog style cars came rolling by looking like they were filming the next hip-hop video, I could tell that he was desperate to have a drive.

San Diego has definitely been the highlight of California, it’s cleaner and quieter and there’s a great deal to see..a lot of which is surprisingly free too. If we were ever to return to the big surf, I think we’d hire a car and drive ourselves down the coast next time, take in a little more coastal scenery and come when its warmer to enjoy the beaches. 

The next stop for us is El Paso, Texas, where I’ll be reunited with my mum and finally get to meet my extended American family. Though the flights only an hour and a half you can guarantee it feel like a lifetime. See you soon Hubbard.


Love Carrie xxx