Saturday, January 28, 2012

A weekend in San Diego

The Coronado Bridge
San Diego is a wonderful south Californian city with history, museums, white sand beaches, natural landscapes and lots of things to enjoy for a comfortable and enjoyable weekend gateaway.
We had 3 full days on our itinerary.Since, it is only 2.5 hours away from Seattle, we flew into San Diego International Airport on a Saturday early morning. as we were landing, I noticed the yellow buildings with the red slanted roofs and the palm trees, memories of Florida just came rushing back, and with the thought of Florida, came my craving for Cuban food, only my taste buds knows for real how much I miss the cuban pollo and frittas and their secret sauces... but then we were now on the other coast!
We had booked ahead @ Holiday Inn on the Bay for the 3 nights. The hotel shuttle picked us up from the airport shuttle pick up area. Since the check in time was @ 3pm, we were apprehensive of having to leave our luggage with the concierge and come back later; but the check-in desk had our room ready @ 10:30 am when we arrived, and our day already had a nice start. The room was clean, bed was comfy, and it had wall to wall doors opening onto a balcony overlooking the bay. We freshened up, and went out. Just outside the hotel was the Maritime Museums and ferry dock.

We had to get on the boat named Star of India, but the boats were right outside our hotel,we decided to visit them later.

We bought one way tickets on the ferry to the Coronado Island. Being late December, the ferry ride was a little chilly in-spite of the very bright midday sun above us. The Coronado islands are part of the Baja California, I had always wondered where that was.Well, the main attraction on the island was the the famous Coronado hotel.The hotel was grand, and to our amusement, the original from which the Disney World's Coronado resort had been copied from, the exact yellow buildings with red roofs and beautifully lined palm trees to the details of the boardwalks over the water which beckoned one to the laps of a luxurious feeling. This hotel was the where the Marilyn movie "Some like it Hot" was shot.The long sandy and clean Coronado beach on the Pacific, behind the hotel was the juxtaposition-ed compliment for the complete unforgettable scenery.

@Coronado beach with the SandCastleMan's castle

After a whole one year, it felt so so good to be back under the bright sun on the white sand with the ocean sound.There was an ice skating on the boardwalk of the beach! imagine skating under the hot sun!

Inside Coronado hotel

first electrically lighted christmas tree        

We took the bus back which took us over the Coronado bridge.

I should also mention the awesome cupcake shop we found among the shops in the Ferry Landing market and the nice full views of the city of San Diego, with whatever majestic skyline this small city can boast of.

We were back on the mainland around sunset time, and our next stop was the Gaslamp Quarters of the city. This part was one of the oldest part of the city filled with pubs and restaurants and very very old and restored office buildings and now hotels. The crisp warm air was filled with laughter and music and we enjoyed our dinner at one of the steakhouses on the D Street. We walked back to our hotel. It was a lovely 15 minutes walk, the roads were straight, there were still lots of people on the streets at 11pm, and the weather was so comfortable, and we were full of energy.

On the second day, we were going to see los Angeles. I had always known California is the only state in US which boasts of wonderful public transport connectivity and I had full proof plans of exploiting this opportunity of a drive free short vacation. But of course, if we had a rental car, we would have toured the Torrey Pines State park that day on our way north to the City of Angels. We took the Amtrak from San Diego station. We had a shuttle from our hotel to the stop! our next stop was Los Angeles.The train ride was a complete hassle free and comfortable experience. Towards the end, the rail tracks were almost touching the sealine. From Los Angeles Amtrak station, we took  the metro to Hollywood. Hollywood was not as impressive as I had always imagined, well probably because we went as tourists.Anyways, we looked for our stars on the Walk of fame, saw the famous Hollywood sign, ate @ California Pizza Kitchen, went inside the Chinese theater, walked up the "red carpeted" Kodak theater, toured the Santa Monica beach, went on a double decker bus to see houses of celebrities. I dont know why but I never really enjoyed looking at million dollar houses from outside (didnt enjoy the tour in Miami either).. as we realized later on.. "well if we had expected Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts walking by.. and the photographers chasing them... we were bound for the big boring surprise !"

Twilight prints

found my favorite star!!

after his favorite song : Sunset Boulevard

By the time we reached back our hotel, we were dead tired anyways.

San Diego skyline

Next morning, we had breakfast at the Little Italy, another "touristy" neighourhood in the San Diego city. This place was also within a walking distance from our hotel. Oh, I had to mention the awesome sight of the big, very big cruise ship which had magically sprung up infront of our window that morning.It was very foggy and the sight was even more magical. At arounf 11am, the hotel shuttle dropped us off at the San Diego zoo. Well, there were many other options, but we had already been to the Sea World, the Universal Studios and our favorite Disney World like 50 times already.. on the other coast... so we decided to tour the Zoo instead. It is supposed to be one of the biggest zoos in the USA.I wanted to see the Pandas.The zoo had quite a few attractions with African elephants, tall giraffes, rhinos , Koalas, Cheetas, so many colourful birds, and of course the Pandas. The highlight of the tour was the Kakatua who laughed like a high pitched lady at us,the baby Panda eating bamboos, and the adorable lazy chimpanzees who was sadly knocking on the glass wall at the
visitors. The zoo has skyway rails and topless buses for ease of access for the visitors. These were all included in our ticket cost.



But the animals seemed very caged in the zoo. Disney had spoiled us with their magical experiences. Sure there were no pandas in Disney's Animal Kingdom, but once one had been there, I felt every other zoo would ever fail to live up to that standard.

Outside the zoo were the famous Balboa gardens. This landscape was developed for public amusement by the old Spanish government, who was ruling there many years ago. There were botanical gardens, ornate Spanish castles, lily ponds, fountains, and numerous museums. Most of the
museums needed a ticket to enter, but we wanted to see what was inside the one named Museum of Man.Then as we sat down on the benches near the fountain, with lemonade and fries, and talked about fun times, I was taking in the wonderful ambiance around us. There were artists playing flutes, on another corner some people were gathered around a man showing card tricks, there was the long line in front of the lemonade stall, children were splashing in the fountain waters, and everyone around was so happy like us.I realized happiness comes easy when people can be out with friends and loved ones and there is bright sunshine and flowers blooming and birds hopping about.Amongst all the things bright and colorful, thoughts of going back to Seattle seemed so cloudy and dreary.

old Spanish castle

lily pond in the Botanical Garden

@the Rose Garden

Our last stop was the Maritime Museums. We had 7 ships including submarines to explore for the price of one ticket ! My husband loves ships and history, and these ships were old antique ships which have outrunned their days in the sea, and were now docked on the coast of San Diego for good, and converted to museums for the interest of enthusiasts like my husband. If we had more time, we would have seen the USS naval ship which was used to carry fighter planes out into the sea during wartime.

a Port Hole View

inside a submarine