San Diego is ok by me (finally)

Trip Start Aug 09, 2004
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21
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Trip End Aug 29, 2004


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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, August 20, 2004

I needed the three days that we have spent in San Diego to appreciate it enough to tell you about it.

To back track a bit first though...I have to talk about our drive from Vegas to here. So picture this: We're in the middle of the Mojave desert. Its 95 degrees outside...so hot that my legs are burning through my jeans from the sun beating through the windshield. A couple raindrops hit our windshield and we hear a report on the radio that there are flash flood warnings just outside of vegas (right where we are). Suddenly the sky opens up and its pouring...and next comes the hail...hail the size of gobstoppers is plunking off the Sunfire. Cars all around us are pulling off to the shoulder but Nick decided we'd be better off if we just tried to get through it. He was right (we got through it) but the getting there was scary as hell. My first time in the Mojave and it looks like its covered in snow from all the hail...weird.

Once we got settled in to our hotel (which is quite charming actually despite its tininess) we drove around trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. We realized that people seemed to be concentrated in the gaslamp quarter area of downtown San Diego so we drove in circles for awhile (a long while) and walked around until we found either sushi or mexican (we had vowed to get both while we were here). Sushi won. We ordered 18 rolls, miso and edamame...as Nick said, all were mediocre. I would even go as far as saying bad but thats just me.

Yesterday we slept in a little (9:30 which, for some reason, has become 'sleeping in' for us). When we were up and ready we went to the San Diego zoo. We love zoos (we've been to the bronx, central park, minneapolis and now san diego zoos together) so we obviously had a great time. This zoo is definitely the best I've been too (BUT its tied with the Bronx zoo...to all of our friends in New York...go to the Bronx zoo, really!) The biggest thing the San Diego zoo has going for it is the pandas. With only about 1000 pandas left in the world its an amazing opportunity to see four of them up close. One of the pandas, Bai Yun gave birth to her second cub Mei Sheng. Mei Sheng is the second panda cub born in North America in the last decade to survive past 4 days. The first was his older sibling Hua Mei. Tomorrow is Mei Sheng's first birthday and the zoo is making him a special bamboo cake. They are also pumping man made snow into the panda cage (its not really a cage...i just cant think of the right word). I guess pandas go nuts for the snow. We also really liked the koalas, hippo, turtles (most of which were older than our grandparents), and the polar bears. My favorite is always the monkeys, gorillas, chimps, orangutans and the like and the San Diego zoo had them all. I could watch them all day.

After the zoo we cleaned up and had an amazing dinner at The Indigo Grill in Little Italy (where our hotel - la Pensione - is located.

At the end of day 2 I was kind of "enh." about San Diego. I was a little let down. People always say "the people in San Diego are so laid back and nice", etc. We really didn't get that vibe the first couple days. Our waitress at the Indigo Grill rolled her eyes at me when I didn't order coffee after dinner and the nightime concierge at the hotel is coldish, everything also closes at 10, etc. etc.

Today when I got up I decided we were going to find that thing everyone always talks about. Before we left the hotel (with no plans in mind) I asked the daytime concierge where we should go. He directed us to the beaches and told us to also hit 'old town'. We got in the car and drove up the Pacific coast driving through Mission, Pacific and La Jolla beaches. We got out at La Jolla cove and watched seals sunbathing on the rocks then we headed back to Mission Beach (which looked really fun) and spent the whole afternoon there. Mission Beach has a boardwalk with food stands, carnival rides, games, tatoo parlors and (of course) a great beach. Today would be the first time we saw (and went in) the Pacific Ocean ever. Nick saw it when he was young on a trip he went on to San Francisco but he never went in. We spent over an hour just walking up and down the beach collecting shells and watching swimmers and surfers. After playing on the beach we had pina coladas at a beachside bar and went on a couple of the rides. (Pina coladas and the tilt-a-whirl do not mix...fyi).

After the beach we drove to 'old town' San Diego which is exactly what the name suggests. The San Diego guide the concierge gave us says "Looking for the Mexico experience without the hassles of crossing the border? Then head straight for Old Town." Its a small area with Mexican shops, galleries and restaurants. We decided for dinner we would go to the place with the longest wait line. This is a good way to find the best food I have decided. It was wellllll worth the wait. I had the best margaritas, fish tacos (maura!), and fried ice cream and bunuelos (Tracey...bunuelos!!) of my life. Like, seriously good mexican food. To top it off our waitor was awesome and SO friendly.

Today saved San Diego for me. I love it now and would love to come back and spend more time here.

Tomorrow its off to Venice Beach! --Celeste

PS (Can you believe we still have 10 days and 4 cities left???)
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