Visiting “America’s Finest City”: San Diego

This is, insanely, my last full week here in Southern California. I have no clue how the time flew by like this! In my attempt to see as much as possible before I leave Los Angeles, I… left Los Angeles!

You read that right— I was talking to a friend about train travel and how much I missed it, when another friend said, “Let me know if you’re ever in San Diego!” and I realized, I could kill two birds with one stone. So, yesterday, I woke up at 4:45am, caught the 5:30 bus to the 6:15 metro for my 7:02 Amtrak, and happily adventured down south. It’s a beautiful train ride (caveat: I did sleep for the beginning part, missing the downtown Los Angeles section), and you can see the beach right below you. I successfully managed to sit on the correct side of the train, both there and back, to be next to the ocean.

sunrise over LA

sunrise over LA

Union Station, morning light

Union Station, morning light

At 10am, I arrived in downtown San Diego to mild, sunny weather, blue skies, and modern red trolleys whizzing through the streets. My first stop was the marina and Seaport Village, a collection of shops and restaurants in cute little buildings, all along the waterfront. The water was lovely, the trinkets cute, and the breeze delightful.

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Next up, another short walk away, was the Gaslamp Quarter, the previously seedy (think 19th century saloons) and now ornamentally historic area with more cute shops and good restaurants. I walked past Victorian hotels with swirly scroll work and the Gaslamp Historical Museum, unfortunately closed on Mondays. After my early morning wake up, I was craving coffee, so I popped into Le Parfait Paris for an espresso, and ended up with their irresistible breakfast sandwich, Le Basque.

sandwich not pictured because I ate it as soon as I saw it

sandwich not pictured because I ate it as soon as I saw it

After my egg, cheese, & vegan chorizo-laden croissant had disappeared and I licked my fingers clean, I realized I had to dash to grab my bus!

Unfortunately, 6 and G looked too similar to me, so I wandered down the wrong street for a bit, until I realized my ETA was getting further and further into the future. I managed to finally make it on to a bus, only to be greeted by a screaming match between two very angry customers. One service dog, one police officer, four unrelated passersby with loud opinions, and a ten-minute stop later, we were on our way, despite the invective-muttering pair behind me. I hopped off at the zoo, and wandered through Balboa Park, which is gorgeous! No one told me there was such a large collection of different architectural styles housed here, including Spanish-Renaissance, Spanish-Colonial, and many more.

The sun-warmed buildings, brightly coloured tiles, and decorated arches led me to the courtyard of the San Diego Museum of Art, where I met my friend Matt, who’s working there this summer. We grabbed drinks (minty iced coffee for me and thai tea that was supposed to be chai for him) and talked about the weirdness of pursuing an open-ended, creative career while our friends are starting full time jobs in consulting or business.

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After he went back to work, I explored the San Diego Museum of Art, including their special exhibit on the Golden Age of Spain, which had many pieces I recognized from Professor Webster’s class freshman year. I lingered in the display on the California Colorists, falling in love with yet another Wayne Thiebaud, with his signature mix of light and emptiness and energetic colours. Filled with art, I headed out to the sparkling koi pond, where little girls fed flowers to the gaping fish, and then to the Botanical Garden, where deep greens and bright pinks brushed up against the blue sky.

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Leaving the art museum, bustling crowds, and beautiful architecture behind me, I boarded another bus, this time with less yelling, and made my way to Little Italy. After walking up and down the street to make sure I had really seen as many variations on a green/white/red colour scheme as possible, I settled on Nonna (they had a great happy hour deal). Dinner at the bar was delightful: the spaghetti was delicious, the bartender charming, and the older couple next to me also from the East Coast! We chatted about art museums and traffic, weather and the US Women’s National Team (the bartender saw them play!). Warm and full and happy, I walked back to the train station and waited for the Pacific Surfliner to pull into the station.

From my train window, I watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.

(Of course, this fairy tale ending must have an addendum: I got off Amtrak at 9:40 and didn’t make it to my apartment until 11:13pm, thanks to the tireless efforts of Los Angeles bus & metro.)

Comments

  1. Karen Poteet says:

    Loved your description of doing San Diego. Wish I could have been there! You now have a cousin living in the San Diego area, they just moved from Buffalo back to the West Coast. Keep writing, it’s lovely!

  2. Thanks Nana!!

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