Tuesday, September 27, 2011

San Diego Vacation

Blondie and I had a wonderful vacation in California over Labor Day weekend. I was scheduled to attend a conference in San Diego that week, and since Blondie was out of school for Labor Day, he came along and spent the weekend with me.

We had a great time. We arrived on Friday and explored Little Italy and the Gaslamp Quarter. We were pretty hungry by the time we arrived, so the first thing we did was look for a place to eat lunch. Filippi's Pizza Grotto was recommended by our shuttle driver, so we decided to try it.

On Saturday, we spent the morning browsing the Little Italy Farmers Market. Blondie bought all kinds of fruit. Oklahoma has been so dry this year that we haven't had good fresh produce in a long time. Blondie got three different types of raspberries, white peaches, and nectarines. We also tried fresh lemonade, granola, jam, and a very interesting organic vegetable smoothie.

After the Farmers Market, we had quite an adventure finding Trader Joe's. Blondie fell in love with Trader Joe's in San Francisco, so we made sure to find one in San Diego. We had to take two buses and walk several blocks, but we finally found it. Most people there were just doing their regular grocery shopping, but we were in the market for snacks. They have the best snacks! Blondie wanted trail mix, so we got three kinds. We also got some chocolate covered, peanut butter filled pretzels and chocolate covered dried cherries. Yum!

We went back to the farmers market for lunch and each got a different type of panini. They were cut in half, so we each got half of both kinds. Later we visited the Festival of Sail and saw a pirate with a pet rat, then we went to eat dinner at The Fish Market and saw the USS Midway.

We went to the San Diego Zoo on Sunday. The San Diego Zoo is slightly smaller than the Oklahoma City Zoo, but has twice as many animals. The San Diego Zoo did not live up to the hype. The zoo has been around a while, so some of the exhibits look dated. Admission to the San Diego Zoo costs $40 for adults, which includes access to the buses and gondolas. Admission to the Oklahoma City Zoo costs $8. We spent the morning walking the trails and seeing as many animals as we could. Then, in the afternoon, we rode the tour bus. We were thankful for a break because of the hilly terrain. One thing the San Diego Zoo has that the Oklahoma City Zoo doesn't is a polar bear exhibit. However, the Oklahoma City Zoo's elephant exhibit far outshines San Diego's.

Blondie and I went to Coronado Island on Monday to see my co-worker who was in town for the same conference. She was checking an item off her bucket list by staying at the historic hotel. We enjoyed a nice stroll through the beautiful neighborhoods and a barefoot walk on the beach before we met up with her for lunch.

Blondie came home on Tuesday, so we checked out of the Hampton Inn and I went over to the Hyatt, where my conference was being held. We really enjoyed staying at the Hampton Inn. The hotel staff was extra friendly and accommodating, we love their hot breakfast every morning, and it was within walking distance of lots of great attractions.

We had heard some complaints about noise from the train disturbing guests' sleep, so I called ahead and requested a room on the opposite side of the building. The train didn't bother us at all, and we were thrilled to be so close to the Little Italy stop because the public transportation was very convenient for getting around town.

The view from our room:

I wasn't as impressed with the accommodations at the Hyatt. It was fine, but much more expensive and my room wasn't nearly as nice. The Hampton Inn offers free Internet access, a full breakfast, and a shuttle to and from the airport, the conference center, and the zoo.

On Tuesday after Blondie left, my coworker and I visited the Naval Exchange at the US Pacific Fleet Naval Base. My conference started on Wednesday, so the tourism pretty much came to an end, although I did return to Coronado Island with another coworker on Wednesday for an evening stroll on the beach.

I did get to experience the adventure of a California blackout on Thursday afternoon. The electricity went out during one of my conference sessions, and we soon learned that it was a citywide blackout. Then we heard that it was the whole county. Then they announced that it was several states. Some people were concerned that the power might not return for several days, but there was no mass panic. Most of the neighborhood stores and restaurants were closed because they didn't have power, but I did get a cold sandwich at the hotel restaurant for dinner. Fortunately, the power did return at midnight and the water came on just a little later, but it could have been a huge pain if the power outage had lasted longer. I am so glad it was Thursday night and not Friday because my flight on Saturday probably would have been delayed.