We just returned from San Diego, California where we attended the BlogHer conference. I haven’t never been to San Diego, but I have been to Hollywood and Los Angeles twice. I was not impressed with LA, well, except for Venice Beach and the many trips to the local iHOP restaurant. Now I hear that even Venice Beach isn’t worth the trip.
I had the same expectations for San Diego but my son Phil, and husband Greg assured me it was quite different. I guess every state has it’s good spots and not so good spots and my first visit to Cali just wasn’t in the right place.
Both Greg and Phil had been stationed near San Diego at one point because of the military. Greg back in ’79 for the Navy and Phil in ’05 for the Marine Corps – Camp Pendleton.
When we got to the San Diego airport I could feel the difference right away. I kind of expected hippies to great with me peace signs and a doobie but that wasn’t the case. Why do we think that way about California? The airport was clean and low key, which was surprising. In New England everything is uptight and people aren’t happy. It has something to do with the cold weather I think. By the time we get to go outside we are so angry for having to stay inside for 8 months out of the year that we want to bite someone’s head off, and well, that is usually what happens.
Of course, California has my favorite tree – the palm tree. They have them in every shape, size, and configuration. No matter where I looked I saw a palm tree and loved everyone of them. I have my own little palm at home to remind me of warmer weather. Of course, mine came from Walmart and I have to bring it in the house in October and put it under a grow light, but it’s still the same, even if it is only 2 feet tall.
We stayed that the Marriott Marquis and Marina Resort right by the water. Man, if this is what California is like count me in. It was so beautiful down by the water and peaceful too. The hotel is immaculate and looking out our 10th floor ocean view window reminded me of Gilligan’s Island. It was like looking at a lagoon with the half mile wide pool that snaked around and hot tubs on either end. Surrounding the pools were couches and gas firepits they lite at night. I never wanted to leave.
One night we walked down the wide sidewalk to the village on the outskirts of the Marriott – a tourist trap for sure – and grabbed a cigar at the Cigar Shop and ate authentic Mexican food at one of the vendors. It might have been designed for tourists but the prices were reasonable and you could see a lot of locals shop and eat there.
Since Phil lived here not so long ago and knew the area much better we let him drive us around. The first day we stopped at Point Loma. At the point you get a clear view of the entire area from Mission Beach to San Diego and over to Coronado and to the far right Chula Vista and then Mexico. Basically, you could see forever it seemed. The place is well-kept and charges $5 for admission to keep it maintained. From the top you could see sea lions and some other large mammals swimming in the ocean, although we could never quite figure out what they were.
Going up the hill to Point Loma is a military cemetery overlooking the ocean. It reminds you of the sacrifice others have given of their lives so we can live in a free country and spend leisure time in peace.
While most of our time was taken up with the conference we did get another day to drive around and see towns like Carlsbad where outlet shopping abounds and La Jolla (pronounce Hoy-ya) Beach where surfer rule the day.
La Jolla is a great place little, upscale town with sandy beaches and big waves with lots of surfers and people picnicking on the grassy lawn. Lined with expensive homes, the atmosphere is friendly and realized. On the beach surfers of all shapes, sizes, and ages were gearing up for a class and once on the water the fun really began.
Carlsbad is an average town with a big outlet mall. I wasn’t much into shopping but we did enjoy the laid back shopping experience. How can you be mad or rushed surround by palm trees, flowers, and water fountains?
Back at the hotel we ate crawdads, lobster, shrimp, and crabs at Joe’s Crab Shack. It’s just a stone’s throw from the edge of the Marriott hotel so you can walk. Phil bought a big bucket of seafood and there were plenty to eat for everyone. Make sure you wear a bib because it’s a messy eat.
I didn’t realize it but Joe’s Crab Shack has 119 locations nationwide.
Staying in San Diego was a wonderful experience. It changed my mind about California. If we had visited San Diego first I would have wanted to go back in a minute. The laid-back atmosphere and perfect weather is enough to make me want to visit over and over again. I never saw one hippie!