This past Labor Day my mother and I took a long weekend and zipped over to lovely San Diego, California for a little rest, relaxation, and good food. It had been 12 years since I’d been there and I think longer for my mom, so it was going to be fun exploring all the wonderful sights again.
Mom was flying in from Northern California and me from Phoenix, Arizona. We arrived at about the same and thought we'd meet up at our gates as we assumed since we were flying the same airlines that the gates would be close to each other. First mistake, we assumed. Mom flew into the main terminal and I flew into the small annex since my connecting flight was from Los Angeles and was a puddle jumper. Mom connected in San Francisco so she was flying a larger plane.
After figuring out we were at different terminals and that one needed to take a 2 minutes shuttle bus to the other I called mom’s cell phone and left her a message. Assuming technology would work, oops there’s that word ‘assume’ again, I hopped on the next shuttle bus on my way to the main terminal. Seconds after the doors closed and we were on our way my cell phone rang and it was mom saying she’s on her way to the annex terminal I flew into. WHAT!! I laughed and said I was on the bus too on my way to her. Too funny. I told her to stay on the bus and come back to the main terminal where I waited for her. Was this an omen of how our weekend would go, I sure hope not.
We took a taxi to The Bristol Hotel were we had gotten a smokin’ deal for a room close to the gaslamp quarter. We arrived on a Friday morning and were leaving on Monday afternoon so we had a lot to see and not much time. Once we checked into our room we decided to hop on a ferry over to Coronado Island for lunch, beach, and revisit Hotel Del Coronado or The Del as locals call it. As a family we stayed at The Del about 35 years earlier and wanted to see if it had changed.
The ferry ride over was really nice and relaxing. When we landed out first priority was to eat as we’d both had early flights and were ready for lunch. We had a hard time deciding where to eat but we took a locals recommendation and went to a pub. I wish I could remember the name. We had a map and it looked like it was a short walk to get to the pub. Oh how maps can be deceiving. The blocks were quite long and we had 3-4 to walk. I also must mention that the weather was lovely, actually a little on the warm side as we’d dressed thinking it was going to be cool being that we were on the ocean. So being hungry, hot and a wee bit cranky we finally found the pub after what seemed like forever.
Coronado Bridge from Ferry Landing @ Coronado Island
We both had nachos and gallons of ice tea and looked at the map to chart our course for the day. We had thought of renting those pedal bikes, I thought it would be fun and easy to scurry around the island. Boy, am I glad we didn’t as a friend told me that their family (4-2 adults, 2 teenagers) found it exhausting to use the bikes. My mom is a young 75 and I 48 probably would have been able to move this bike a 100 yards before giving up. Can’t you just see that? Anyway, we decided to call a taxi to pick us up at the pub, drive us around the quaint homes on the island and deposit us at Hotel Del Coronado to relax on the beach. This was a smart move.
The homes weren’t as quaint as I remember them but 30+ years will do it to a memory. The Del was exactly as it was 30+ years ago, nothing had changed. The dark wood paneling, furniture, and the lovely gardens. It was nice to see it again but it had the musty smell of being old and the wood stair railings had a tacky feel, you know when it’s been cleaned so much with product. All that just reminded you of how old it really was.
Gardens at Hotel Del Coronado
Mom at Hotel Del Coronado Gardens
We made our way down to the beach, rolled up our pant legs and waded in ocean. It was very soothing after a busy morning. By that time we were pretty exhausted and wished we’d had some beach chairs to sit in and wiggle our toes in the water…. Next time.
Mom on Beach in Front of Hotel Del Coronado
We figured out the local bus system and took that back to the ferry for our trip across the bay. It was after 5pm and our walk back to the hotel seemed awfully long (it was 4-5 long blocks) that by the time we got to our room we were exhausted and tired. We relaxed and both read our books. By the time our stomachs told us it was time for food we were still so tired that we made our way down to the restaurant of the hotel and had a lovely meal.
On Saturday we took the tram to Little Italy and enjoyed the street market that was spread out over 3-4 blocks. They were selling everything from vegetables and fruit, herbal/organic items, meats, cheese, pasta, gelato, clothing, tablecloths, etc., etc. Oh, there was so much we wanted to buy but because we were flying with carry on only we had to be good. I’ve looked for tomato paste in a tube here in Chandler, Arizona but couldn’t find any, even at Trader Joe’s. I somehow forgot to pick some up when I was in Italy last June. I found what I was looking for at an Italian pizza/grocery store. I only bought one tube as I thought it may be confiscated at airport security as it was more than 3.4 ounces and didn’t fit in my 1 quart size baggie.
We had lunch and then walked around the streets. What I loved about the area is the chairs all along the sidewalk that you can sit and rest whenever you want. We stopped and enjoyed a yummy gelato. We zipped over to Horton Plaza on our way home from Little Italy but neither of us were in a shopping mood so we wandered around and then walked back to our hotel.
Mom Eating Gelato in Courtyard
Late afternoon we took the tram over to Seaport Village were we walked around looking into the little shops, down the little pier, and then had to make the hard decision of where to eat. We chose the Edgewater Grill overlooking the bay. They had reggae music playing outside and we took a seat in the corner on the patio and sat down for a lovely relaxing dinner. We both decided on a margarita, on the rocks, no salt. A great way to start out any meal I say. We shared a salad which was good but can’t remember what it was. It was a specialty salad that I remember had balsamic reduction dressing, nuts of some kind and was tasty, can’t remember anything else. For dinner mom chose seafood fettuccine and I the grilled pork chops.
Both our dishes were fantastic. I hesitated in ordering the chops as this was a touristy area and pictures two thin over cooked pork chops on the bone, dry and overdone didn't appeal to me. Obviously I have an overactive imagination. Our server recommended the pork chop saying it was his favorite on the menu. I tend to go with their suggestions as they do work there after all and if I was steered in the wrong direction would reflect poorly on them and their tip. Let me just tell you this pork chop was cooked to perfection. I’m not a raw or undercooked kinda gal and this chop was done and moist, the chef knew what he was doing. This one large thick chop was served with a sherry demi-glaze over garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus. To die for, I licked the plate when no one was looking. My mom too enjoyed her pasta dish.
Towards the end of our meal we were treated to a firework show from the middle of the bay. It was very nice, a great way to end the evening. We made our way back to the hotel where we played some cards, read a little, and then retired for the evening.
On Sunday we took the bus to Birch Aquarium which is North of La Jolla and about an hour bus ride. The person I spoke with at the aquarium said the bus stops at the aquarium, which I assumed was at its front door. Please note the word ‘assume’ again. We had a relaxing bus ride (we didn’t rent a car) and were let off at the intersection/entrance to the aquarium. The driver pointed down the road for us to get to the aquarium. We aren’t averse to walking so off we went, it was another lovely day in San Diego albeit warmer then what we’d like. We walked down hill, and then of course walked up hill and we wondered just how far the aquarium was. Thank goodness it was mostly down hill. We had water with us but all I could think about was we needed to walk back up the hill to catch the return bus home. Aargh. We finally made it to the entrance of the aquarium and of course picked the line (in the sun, no shade) that the lovely young gal at the ticket booth couldn’t quite figure out that you take the money, give the tickets and move the line on its merry way. We ended up having a lovely conversation with two ladies in front of us which turned out to have some advantages, one of them was we got one ticket free.
The Birch Aquarium is really neat. It was Labor Day weekend so it was crowded but I assume it typically is on weekends. Once you get past the crying, runny nose ankle biters whose parents can’t or won’t control them you see all these amazing creatures of the sea. Pretty cool stuff. After our long trek and the slow stroll through the aquarium my feet were killing me. I was wearing the sandals I wore in Europe last May/June but I don’t remember them hurting so badly. My mom and I were both not looking forward to the trek up the hill to catch the bus so we (really it was mom that asked, I tend not to do this) asked the ladies that we chatted with in the ticket line if they would mind giving us a lift to the top of the hill. They were happy to, whew; we figured it was a good mile or so from intersection to entrance.
We caught our bus and hoped off in La Jolla for a little lunch which again we were both starving after all the walking we’d done. We ended up eating at a Mexican place right on the strip which had good margaritas and chips and salsa, but frankly the food was just so/so. Over priced and okay. We made our way back to the bus stop, hopped on the next bus back to our hotel. It was a good day, long but good.
That night we went to the Gaslamp Quarter. I’d never been there and had heard great things about it. Boy, were the sidewalks packed with people of all states of dress/undress and sober/intoxication that it was like herds of cattle slowly moving down the street with restaurants handing out coupons to get you to eat at their place. This definitely is a touristy place but it seemed like quite a few locals were there as well, which frankly surprised me. After 10 minutes of the crowds I was done. We strolled all the way down one side and up the other and since we weren’t hungry, as we had a late lunch, we stopped at the Ghirardelli ice cream store and both had sundaes of various kinds. We walked the couple of blocks back to our hotel and called it a night.
Our weekend was coming to a close; all that was left was Monday morning before we both got back on planes to home. Monday morning we got packed and then left to go find a late breakfast before we checked out of our hotel. Se stumbled across this lovely little bistro called, St. Tropez Bakery & Bistro. Quaint little French place. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and strolled around as we knew we’d be sitting in a plane much of the day.
We played some cards while I waited for my departure then mom bused over to her terminal to wait for her plane. It was a great weekend with lots of sun, good food, and quality time with mom. We both decided if we were to do it again we’d get a hotel by the beach, buy beach chairs and umbrellas when we arrived and plant our bums in the sand. I guess we’d done our fair share of walking this trip.
I certainly hope it doesn’t take me 12 years to get back to San Diego; it’s a lovely town with lots to do.
So mom, where are we off to next?