Living in Northern California, you tend to forget about San Diego, hidden as it is behind Los Angeles’ long shadow. You forget that it exists, let alone, that it is part of California. You shouldn’t, really. Such forgetfulness can only encourage the view that we Northern Californians are snobs. But it is really much less about snobbery than it is about Los Angeles’ space-distorting mass; it is just too challenging to see past it.
The blindness is also likely a result of the denial that such a place can exist in this world, with the incessant blue skies and irrepressible sunshine.
Nonetheless, I cannot deny that San Diego exists for I have been there. The first time, I slept on the floor of someone’s apartment that lay along the final approach to San Diego’s airport. I got sick and got into a car accident. Needless to say, I did not feel encouraged to ever return.
So when a friend decided to hold a birthday party in San Diego, I had to swallow my trepidation and sally forth.
We stayed at the Hotel Palomar, a Kimpton Hotel in downtown San Diego that provided easy access to the Hard Rock Hotel where the party was slated to be held. The hotel also provides easy access to the entire Gaslamp Quarter.
A lull in the birthday festivities provided me with an opportunity to explore. So I strapped on a pair of sandals and slathered on the SPF 50.
PetCo belongs to the newer generation of ballparks located right smack in the middle of a city. The free viewing areas out beyond center field are a nice touch. The mix of swaying palms and beach sand stamp PetCo Park as a unique and distinctive park that surely provides a sense of place. There is certainly no confusing PetCo with SafeCo.
Nearby, the massive convention center dominates the waterfront. Thankfully, the architects were kind enough to provide public walkways that allow pedestrians to traverse the mammoth structure, knocking off the mile that it would otherwise take for you to walk around. Along the way, you can admire the Flame of Friendship, a 21-foot tall polished stainless steel sculpture presented as a gift by the Government of Mexico to the people of San Diego as a gesture of friendship.
The highlight on the walkabout for me was wandering into the Horton Grand Hotel, a modern-day restoration of two separate (and relocated) historic hotels–The Grand Horton Hotel and the Brooklyn-Kahle Saddlery Hotel–that retains that old-timey charm of 1880s California.
The next day, before heading to the airport, we hopped in a cab out to Coronado Island and the Hotel del Coronado for brunch. Why they would have a cabinet full of umbrellas is beyond me.
All in all, I survived the venture to San Diego. I don’t think that I would ever move down there though.