They say that San Diego has the best climate in the United States. You might not have thought so this winter, as we all heard dreadful stories about torrents of rain, mud slides and sink holes all over Southern California.
We got off the plane in San Diego on February 24. The sun came out the next day. And it stayed out, almost the entire time we spent in California. Naturally, that contributed to our great enjoyment. There is a certain time in the winter when weather becomes the ONLY topic of conversation.
San Diego is a big city covering a wide area, with miles and miles of beach, but seems to us to be very easy to get around (except for the one way streets downtown.) We were lucky enough to be staying in Coronado, that wonderful peninsula in the middle of San Diego harbor, and home to the famous Hotel del Coronado, and a large American Naval Base. In addition, it is the perfect retirement/outdoor living location. Early morning walks are easy to do, there is an outdoor coffee shop seemingly on every corner, and the sun makes its appearance with almost monotonous regularity.
San Diego is also the home of one of Anheuser-Busch’s famous SeaWorlds, which hold no charm for me, since I have always thought of it only as a place for little children. Well, I was wrong again, as we spent was a most enjoyable day there. Bright and sunny, though cool, the day commenced with a visit to the Dolphin Stadium area. It is easy to get excited when you realize how much those elegant creatures can relate to their human friends. It is easy to see the affection and caring that goes into their training. (who is being trained here, I sometimes wonder?) and it is even easy to get caught up in the hokey clown-like activity that heats up the crowd. It was an amazing show, and it was only the beginning. SeaWorld is one of those places where you pay once (a large sum) and then everything is free. You have to figure out what the schedule is, but even a child can do it. Maps and schedules of various sea and land creature appearances is widely available all through the park, as is the usual complement of souvenir shops and eateries. There was a fabulous whale tank called Shamu Adventure that provided a terrific show for us children of all ages. We even succumbed to hotdogs for lunch, and nothing ever tasted so good. (I guess that’s what happens when you haven’t had one for a year.) Once I’d gotten in to the swing of things, I even agreed to go to the 4-D Haunted Lighthouse – not something I readily admit.
We ended the day with a walk through the home of the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales, and what a beautiful home they have! It rivals some of the horse palaces I’ve seen around here in Eastern Dutchess and that’s going some. We learned that the Clydesdales, owned like SeaWorld, by the Anheuser-Busch Corporation, have several groups and they have several homes.
I must admit that at the end of the day, I really liked SeaWorld. Maybe it was because I learned that servicemen and their families get in free. When you consider how many servicemen there are in San Diego, and how expensive SeaWorld is, that’s a big deal. And it made us feel great when at each show, servicemen and families were asked to stand.
Back in Coronado, I started every morning walking on the beach, a great start to my day, especially when 200 Navy Seals were sure to be jogging by at some point to startle the likes of me into early morning consciousness. The Seals training takes place just south of Coronado proper, and I can assure you that what I observed gives new meaning to the term “rigorous.” I would wash out on day one, if I had to jog through beach sand at the pace they are pushed. I’m glad to see that these young men are training to defend our country – I just don’t want them to have to.
We also managed to get back to a few of our favorite haunts in San Diego, including the fabulous Balboa Park, with its remarkable Spanish Colonial buildings from the 1915 Panama Canal celebration. When it was first set aside as parkland in 1868, Balboa Park was larger than Central Park in New York, and remains larger even today at 1200 acres. The museums are terrific, the giant Botanic Building is a joy, the Zoo is world-class, but my favorite spot in the Park is still Prado, a restaurant in one of the old buildings. We went twice, and sat on the terrace in the sun (remembering that, in New York, snow was predicted for 10 days out of the 21 we were in California.) I fell in love with something called a chopped salad, which is delicious, full of cabbage and mango, and still healthy).
Although San Diego is very close to Mexico, we didn’t go down there. I have never had a yen to go to Tijuana, but you can get there by trolley from the city. Many people have told me that it is really just a big shopping center, and not very high class. Still I’m tempted to try it next time.
In spite of all there is to see in this part of Southern California, I enjoyed just hanging out in the Coronado sunshine, where everything seems to be user friendly. There is a wonderful bookstore, lovely walks along the sea, a pleasant library that, though under reconstruction, is still a great spot, where visitors can sing up to use one of their three computers to catch up with email. You can also go and read all the news that’s fit to print, or even the LA Times, or the Wall Street Journal. They have oodles of DVDs and Videos (including everything that’s EVER been on PBS.)
Unfortunately the Coronado movie house closed, so we had to drive over the bridge back to SD proper to get to see Hotel Rwanda, The Aviator, and Being Julia and to go another great restaurant called the Indigo Café. It was a bit hard to locate, as it is in a newly hot neighborhood called Little Italy, but which is full of one-way streets. My San Diego connections told me it was a very “in” place to go for drinks, but I must say, the food was very very special. A sort of Pan-Asian tapas place. (the hottest food craze, apparently, is grazing over small portions of food from all nations.) It is really great for people like me,
with short attention spans.
If you are still craving sun even now in April, you can’t go wrong with a few days in San Diego.