Loving it all in San Diego

San Diego Travel Blog

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view from the "beach cottages" hotel in pacific beach where we stayed over the weekend


this was my first extensive trip to a gorgeous city settled by the spanish, and having such a beautiful mix of all the cultural treasures i cherish. from the first night, where i was sung to sleep by the waves of the pacific on the beach outside our hotel, to the last day where i vomited for nearly 2 hours on the whale watching cruise, it was a marvelous adventure.

We stayed the weekend at the "beach cottages" hotel in pacific beach.  Though most of the rooms are suites with kitchen, there is nothing to write home about, save for the wonderful views of the ocean, and access to the beach.  However, since we were there in February, there would be no splashing in the waves for us.

We had driven down the 6+ hours from Phoenix, so we were quite exhausted and ended the day with a trip to one of the local restaurants, The Green Flash.

Orcas at Sea World
  It was a romantic beachside restaurant, named after the brief green flash which shoots across the horizon just at the sun hitting the horizon.  Though this place is renowned for its seafood, I was not impressed with my food at all.  Crab cocktail was entirely uneatable, though I suppose that was my error.  I don't like cold seafood, and should have rdered the crab legs, which get rave reviews here.  I also ordered the calamari strips, as I am a huge fan of calamari, but they did not leave a permanent impression, either.  I don't remember what entrees we had, but the menu is the usual smattering of lobster, catch of the day, sirloin, etc.  Even though it was cold outside, and we were in sweaters and scarves, we did sit on the patio, enjoying the breezes of the ocean by candlelight, sipping some good white wine.
Curious Bird in the Sea Lion habitat
  Would I go back to that restaurant? Probably not.  Nonetheless, having a wonderful partner in crime, the night was pleasantly refreshing.

The next morning we were up early and headed to Sea World.  It was on my to do list, just had to see one of those killer whales up close.  And they are incredible!  To think that in the wild they are ravenous, sea lion gobbling eating machines, and here they are tame show ponies, is a fascinating contrast.  At the whim of their master's command, they will swim backwards just to get those tender morsels in the bucket.

The park itself is wonderful, as there is life everywhere.  Not just in the habitats, but walking or flying freely though the park.  Even in the habitats with the sea lions, you can spy curious sea faring birds trying to get a piece of the action.

eating bratwurst with sauerkraut, after we have finished beer tasting at the budweiser hospitality center
  My favorite are was the Rocky Point Preserve, where I fed dolphins.  I love these intelligently beautiful creatures.

Favorite ride is the Atlantis water ride, an aquatic roller coaster, situated next to the dolphin aquarium, where you can watch them swimming below the water.

I have to admit that the highlight had nothing to do with sea creatures, not in the least.  The Budweiser hospitality center is located in the park, which is where we had lunch.  Here we ate bratwurst with sauerkraut, after we have finished the beer tasting.  They had some exciting new products coming out like cactus and lime, or pomegranate and grapefruit enhanced beers.  I know there is a limit to how much one person can sample, but I believe we hit every bartender so that we could try everything!  Everything from stout, to an energy enhanced beer, and we even did a short class on beer.

Rocky Point Preserve, feeding dolphins
  Here we learned the importance of chilling, keeping out of the sun, and tasting beer that had been left out too long. wow!

Our last stop in the park was the aquarium de la mar, where gorgeous saltwater echosystems abounded, and we found nemo.

Our next stop was old town san diego....Our first visit was the Whaley house, listed by the united state's department of commerce as an authentic haunted house. Built on the site of a public gallows in 1857, and the scene of numerous deaths, the Whaley house has had a number of strange occurences and unexplained phenomena. At the guest registry, people have recorded their strange experiences, there is even a book of photos that tourists have taken, where they believe they have captured a spirit.

old town san diego....the whaley house. authentic haunted house, built on the site of a public gallows in 1857, and the scene of numerous deaths, the whaley house has had a number of strange occurences and unexplained phenomena.
  Mister Thomas Whaley, who built the home and still haunts it to this day, has had numerous sightings throughout the house.

Behind the Whaley house is the beautiful Victorian quarter of the old town, which has some stunning architecture.  There you can find Bed and Breakfasts, victorian shops with tea, porcelain dolls, and lace.

Coming back around past the Whaley house, passing the old Spanish colonial church, we headed to the Mason Street School, built in 1865, which was the first public school in San Diego.  Of course this part of San Diego is for tourists.  Accordingly, you will find all of the pottery shops, restaurants, souvenir shops, and trinket markets you could want.

mister thomas whaley, who built the home and still haunts it to this day. there have been numerous reports of him throughout the house.
..but if it is history that interests you, you will also find much more of it here.

Next morning we were up early for a whale watching cruise, for which I was extremely excited!  I will spare you the gore-like details, and put it simply:  It was more than an hour just to get out to sea, during which time every passenger on the ship was tossed about.  The winds were crazy, the waves high, the boat whipping up and down in a near ship wreck frenzy, and everybody got sick.  I think the most that anybody saw was a blow hole, at which time the boat stopped its maneuvering and just hovered, waiting for the whale to surface.  I believe we must have bobbed there for 20 min.  And everybody got just a little queasier.  Our tour guide was convinced that everybody would see whales today, and he just pressed the captain to head further out to sea, even though the ship was bobbing and chopping dangerously and sickeningly through the waters.

  Highlight: we saw a couple dolphins dancing through the wakes of the ship.  Downside: more than half the ship was tossing their lunch all over the ship on our return.  Disappointment: we saw no whales, or suggestions of any.  Pros: we got our money back.

After that rocking adventure, we decided we would take some time to let our stomachs settle and we took a walk down to the maritime museum.  For any boat and ship lover, this is a must-see.  The first ship we came to was the Star of India. The world's oldest active ship, her life began in the Isle of Man in 1863. Iron ships were experiments of sorts then, with most vessels still being built of wood. Inside it you will find captain's quarters, first class, and steerage accomodations.

Victorian district behind Whaley House
  The next was the H.M.S. SURPISE. (18th century royal navy frigate-replica) the very same boat used in "Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World."  On board were featured artifacts, costumes, weapons and props used in the film.  (www.sdmaritime.com)

Next on our to-do list was Balboa park, completed in 1910, and named after the spanish explorer who first saw the pacific ocean.  Balboa Park is incredible.  Here you will find the zoo, Science Museum, Museum of Man, Botanical Garden, Art Museum, and some beautiful architecture.  Numerous buildings with intricate facades populate the park - a misnomer in my opinion. It is more fitting to call it balboa palace or balboa town.

 "It was the 1915 Panama-California Exposition however that truly gave the park its character with the choice of a "Spanish" type of architecture for the Fair buildings. What we wound up with however, was an eclectic mix of Spanish Colonial Renaissance with Gothic & Moorish influence, and the borrowed styles of baroque and rococo." (quoted from www.gothere.com)

Our destination here was the Museum of Man, where I wanted to see items in their Egyptian exhibit.  Their collection had a rare child coffin, and the rest of the museum was truly fascinating - especially with its mayan stelae.

That night we had dinner in the popular Gas Lamp District, at the Dublin Quarter Pub and Restaurant.  We ate shepherd's pie and a corned beef sandwhich, polished off with pints of guiness.

The Mason Street School, first publich school in San Diego, 1865.
  I loved this place.  Atmosphere, food, everything Irish!

So, considering all there is to offer in San Diego, and all that we accomplished in two days, i would definitely recommend this a place to see on the West Coast.  Such diversity, and something for every palate.



 

 

 

 

portia says:
You certainly covered a lot of ground (and water) in 2 days! Reading this made me want to go back and visit again. And you went to places I have not been yet.
Posted on: Jul 10, 2006
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view from the \\beach cottages\\ h…
view from the "beach cottages" ho…
Orcas at Sea World
Orcas at Sea World
Curious Bird in the Sea Lion habit…
Curious Bird in the Sea Lion habi…
eating bratwurst with sauerkraut, …
eating bratwurst with sauerkraut,…
Rocky Point Preserve, feeding dolp…
Rocky Point Preserve, feeding dol…
old town san diego....the whaley h…
old town san diego....the whaley …
mister thomas whaley, who built th…
mister thomas whaley, who built t…
Victorian district behind Whaley H…
Victorian district behind Whaley …
The Mason Street School, first pub…
The Mason Street School, first pu…
CASA DEL PRADO BUILDING. 
our nex…
CASA DEL PRADO BUILDING. our ne…
numerous buildings with intricate …
numerous buildings with intricate…
THE BOTANICAL BUILDING
Originall…
THE BOTANICAL BUILDING "Original…
balboa park has a science center, …
balboa park has a science center,…
this is a fantastic part of san di…
this is a fantastic part of san d…
entrance to the museum of man, whi…
entrance to the museum of man, wh…
close up of the facade of the muse…
close up of the facade of the mus…
MAYAN STELAE. with ancient hierogl…
MAYAN STELAE. with ancient hierog…
one of the few existing child coff…
one of the few existing child cof…
The Star of India, 1863.
The Star of India, 1863.
Inside the Star of India
Inside the Star of India
Captains Quarters
Captain's Quarters
First Class Quarters
First Class Quarters
Steerage
Steerage
The H.M.S. Surprise
The H.M.S. Surprise
The Dublin Quarter Pub and Restaur…
The Dublin Quarter Pub and Restau…
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photo by: Sunflower300