One marvelous lesson I have learned over the years - you are never too old to have your first time. This weekend was my first time in San Diego, California. While I came here for a workshop, I arrived a day early as I have never been here before and it's a hella long way to fly just for a workshop!! I wanted to do a post about all of the amazing firsts that I encountered on the trip.
San Diego is a beautiful place. The city is clean and compact, and the driver to the hotel explained to me that it is the 8th largest city in the USA, which surprised me because it wasn’t as city-like as some of the other big cities I had been to. The locals seem extremely friendly - some people actually say hi when you walk down the street. I was about to cross the road yesterday and the traffic stopped, and the driver smiled and waved me across!!! I have come to the conclusion that it must be the sun and the proximity to the sea that makes people so friendly. The city is also pet friendly, and the landscape is dominated by the huge Petco sponsored sports stadium. The hotel that I stayed in had dog treats in the lobby, as well as dog bowls of water at various places. In addition, I heard that it does not move to the pace of the big cities like Manhattan and DC and that suited me just fine. As it is Labor day weekend, it was still hot and a number of persons complained about the heat. Being from Barbados, I can say that it was about the same as it was at home, but if you aren't accustomed to walking around in the heat, take precautions, wear sunscreen and walk with a huge bottle of water.
I started my day by treating myself to breakfast at Spill the Beans Coffee and Bagel and for my first first, I had neither coffee nor a bagel! I had a sandwich called the San Diego (it seemed fitting) which was a soft roll filled with ooey gooey messy delicious egg bacon and cheese and a Cayenne aioli. It definitely left you wanting more, while at the same time keeping me satisfied until dinner. I also tried kefir for the first time, in the form of a probiotic watermelon soda. It was light and refreshing, and not too sweet, and somehow, knowing it was good for me made it all the more tasty. The restaurant was clean, the service fantastic and I overheard a family on their way out saying they enjoyed it so much yesterday that they came again today. I would definitely recommend it, if you are in the mood for a bagel (or not a bagel!!)
I took a hop on, hop off trolley tour, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and like pretty much all hop on/off tours I have taken, it was fun and informative, and I got to see an overview of the points of interest in the main part of the city, and hear about some of the history. There is one humongous, really scary bridge going across a part of the city, and looking out the window, you can see Tiajuana Mexico, so it is very close to the border, and Old Town Sand Diego is packed with Mexican restaurants and souvenirs that reflect this Spanish history. I hopped off the bus at the festival of Sails, where there were huge ships both authentic, as well as a life size relic of one of the oldest large ships to have arrived in the area, and it was beautiful to see the big ships bobbing in the harbor. There is also a famous statue - the sailor and the nurse, which I glimpsed, but it was very busy on the pier - I assume due to Labor Day weekend. There was a fair going on, where you could buy anything from kettle corn and ice cream, to clothes to one guy who had a number of bathtubs on display. This festival happens every Labor day, so if you ever happen to be over there at that time, definitely check it out.
Now for another first - my first Uber ride. Here is a word that will be a part of the English language in a few years (in fact I suspect it already is). Instead of catching a taxi, you put your whereabouts in an app, and a random dude comes and picks you up in his car (while I am sure that there are also female drivers, I didn't encounter any). Similar to a taxi - you pay for the journey, depending on the distance and the time taken due to traffic, calculated by google maps. There are a few great things about uber - the app notifies the driver nearest to you, so he normally comes pretty quickly, and you have an approximation of where he is when he is on his way and how long he would take, even before you order it. You can find out the cost before you go, as well as the approximate time it will take and what the traffic is like en route. In addition, one of the girls I met who has taken Uber from the very beginning gave quite a good argument for its safety with the fact that you know the name and photo of driver who is coming to pick you up, and everything is tracked on GPS. Also you don't need cash, as the money is taken directly from your card when you are dropped off, and a tip can be done as well (if needed). However there was something weird to me about getting in a car with a random dude who (by his own admission) had just left work and didn’t have to be be anywhere for an hour. It didn’t help that when he opened his trunk to put in my friend’s luggage, it looked as if he was living out of the back of his car!!! Anyway I actually took a second uber later that evening and I live to tell the tale. The main bit of advice I would give visitors regarding uber - it requires an internet connection of some sort from the place you are taking it from, as well as to make payment. Secondly, if you are traveling somewhere and plan to use it, consider downloading it before you leave home. I didn’t and when I got here and tried to activate it, they needed to do it by text, and I had no signal. It made it difficult here, as it seems as if Uber has almost entirely replaced regular taxis and so it was much easier to get an Uber than it was to get a taxi.
The other highlight of my visit to San Diego was a visit to La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya- I didn't realize they were the same place until I got there). We had a late brunch in the morning and note - brunch is big in San Diego on the weekend so if you want to do it, go early or be prepared to wait. We then took the Uber to La Jolla beach. It's a beautiful beach in an enclosed bay of cliffs. I couldn't get photos to do it justice - it is a big bay - but it was definitely a beautiful spot worth a visit. Of particular interest is a large group of sea lions that call the bay home. They are well disguised on the rocks but once you get closer you can see them chilling as well as frolicking in the surf. There is also water frolicking for humans in the form of surfing, water skiing and kayaking, if you are up for that type of activity, although I did see people in wet suits so I cannot speak to the temperature of the water. The cliffs were very picturesque - I posted one pic above - and there were loads of locals and tourists making the most of it. The town is full of shops and restaurants, and La Jolla is a quick 20-30 minutes away from downtown San Diego, although it could be longer depending on traffic.
While I was short on time to wander around, downtown in the city had much to offer. It is well networked with public transportation, and easy to navigate, and I walked around pretty easily from the waterfront to the Gaslamp district which has many great eateries and nightlife. There was plenty to do for visitors and residents of all ages - from families with young kids, to those who want nightlife or outdoor pursuits, to those who just want to wander around snapping natural beauty with a phone or camera. My first time there was great and I look forward to perhaps visiting again, and having many more firsts!
Big love from a friendly city!!