Day Four, Sunshine and Sandwiches
Trip Start May 09, 2012
16Trip End May 22, 2012
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Without doubt San Diego is now one of my favourite places on the planet. It has such a calm, relaxed, easy going atmosphere. Plus, it averages over 300 days of sunshine a year (and only receives around 6 to 9 inches of rainfall per year). Sure it's hot, but the gentle breeze coming off the Pacific sorts out that little problem and no mistake. It would be a great place to retire. But there's one slight hitch. Property is expensive. Very expensive. To buy a small house in the good area of town, near the waterfront I'm going to need millions, and by the time I get to retirement age it'll probably be tens of millions.
Ok, so moving to San Diego is off the cards, but returning here in the future as part of another holiday certainly isn't. I think I'll start making plans now.
Anyway moving on… today's city tour of San Diego was a real treat. Have you ever seen that very famous war time photo with the sailor kissing the girl in the middle of the street? They have a 60 foot statue of that Kiss on the coast at San Diego, right next to the The Midway, an enormous WWII aircraft carrier that has now been decommissioned (actually it's not strictly speaking a WWII vessel, as it wasn't actually built until just after the war had finished, despite being commissioned beforehand). It is now spending it's latter years as a museum. A thousand foot long museum, no less. With all kinds of aeroplanes and helicopters parked up on the top deck. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to go aboard, but from the view across the water it looked fantastic.
They have another set of statues next to the Kiss, they're not as big (standing less than 6 feet tall each) but they are important, and share the war-time theme - statues of Bob Hope entertaining about a dozen soldiers. This scene frozen in time is accompanied by genuine audio of Bob Hope cracking through great one-liners and the soldiers cheering. He was just a very funny guy, and it was great to hear this original recording - it really added to the atmosphere.
Whilst listening to Bob and admiring the enormity of The Midway, something caught my eye. I looked up and saw three parachutists spiralling down from a great height, two of the three were trailing circles of smoke behind them. I took a few photographs and then watched them come in to land on the deck of The Midway, to great applause. It was all over in a matter of seconds, and it was purely by chance that I happened to be in the right place at the right time to watch it all.
The next stop was at the Hotel Del Coronado, named after the man who founded San Diego (Mr Coronado… I've no idea what his first name was, this is a holiday not a history class outing). This hotel was the first building in the area to get electricity. Thomas Edison himself was there to switch it on. It also happens to be where they filmed Some Like It Hot. I have a couple of shots of the inside of the hotel, although it was very dark, so they may not be any good - I haven't had a chance to look at them on the laptop yet.
After that quick stop came a slightly longer one at Balboa Park, another extraordinary place, it's full of really old, beautiful buildings (old for America, that is) - they often have wedding ceremonies there, and it's easy to see why. In fact there were two going on whilst I was there, and I came very close to butting in and taking a few shots (just for the sake of practice, you know?) But I thought better of it, nobody wants to mess with an angry bride. So instead I focused my camera on the architecture.
The San Diego city tour ended with a stop at Seaport Village, a series of small shops and lots of places to eat. I ended up having a beer and sandwich with the tour guide, he's a very interesting chap - he's an actor and teacher, as well as an occasional tour guide. In fact he's soon to appear in a movie with Simon Pegg. The beer, a pint of San Diego Red Trolley, was also very nice, and highly recommended if you're ever in the area.
The afternoon leg of the whole San Diego experience started with a cruise around the Bay, which in itself was very interesting but was made even more-so by a visit from several dolphins (although sadly I didn't get any photographs), a whole gathering of lazy sea-lions (again, no decent photographs), and a low flying pelican (now that I did get in camera).
After the cruise came Old Town, San Diego - known as the birthplace of California, mainly because it's been around for a long time. It's a very Mexican place, from the style of the buildings, to the people and the food. Which is not surprising considering it's about 10 miles from the border. I really liked it there, despite the fact that it seemed very touristy, it also had a genuine charm about it.
One other thing that Old Town has is something known rather blandly as California State Historic Landmark #65 (seriously, it says exactly that on the street sign). It's more common name is Whaley House. And for the TV show *America's Most Haunted* it's the most haunted house in the whole of America. How could I resist something like that?
From the outside it looked just like any older American house, all wood and windows, with a few steps up to the doorway. I was greeted by an old woman in a period dress, sadly she wasn't a ghost just one of the people that worked there. You see, Whaley House is now a museum. It's kind of like a National Trust property, where you can walk around from room to room and see things as they were back in the day. The one notable difference was that photography (including flash photography) was allowed, encouraged in fact. Only video was not allowed - I'm not entirely sure why? Anyway, I walked around, took a few pictures, and generally admired the olde worlde feel to the place (including some very creepy looking dolls), but honestly inside the house, as with the outside, it just felt normal. I didn't sense any kind of ghostly presence (although the woman working in the upstairs rooms gave me a little fright as she appeared suddenly out of nowhere - with bottle of window cleaner and a cloth), nor did I feel any drop in temperature - something that other "guests" in the museum have apparently experienced. I enjoyed it, nonetheless, it was an interesting walk around some genuine American history - the Whaley Family came to California during the gold rush and remained there in San Diego until the youngest daughter died in the 1950s. But it certainly wasn't spooky in any way, shape, or form.
After a bite to eat, and a wander around some of the shops (selling anything from ukulele's to spiritual wind charms) I got back in the coach and headed to the hotel. Day done.
(Oh, and I've got better wifi now - so I'm including a couple of extra shots from yesterday's trip to Universal Studios...)