Saturday, 14 November 2009

Down Mexico Way

Well, not quite.
About 18mls from the Mexican border, to be exact, to San Diego. After about a 3hr drive, we arrived in San Diego. First impressions- another big city. Our 2night stay in Hampton Inn was within walking distance of the "Gas lamp area". We were right near the sea front and wandered down past the USS Midway, a floating museum, aircraft carrier docked nearby. So big, you couldn't fit it on the camera screen. On past that to a 120ft high statue, one of twenty or so art installations along the waterfront. This particularly huge one was entitled "Unconditional Surrender", and was of a marine embracing a nurse, and she's falling back into his arms!
We saw what was to be the first of numerous vagrants, pushing all their worldly goods around in shopping trolleys.
We wandered around the historic gas lamp area, a bit reminiscent of the Rocks area in Sydney, and had a superb meal at one of the "fine-dining restaurants". You can eat cheaply here, but everything comes with a waist-expanding portion of fries and coated in seasoning and mayo, with not a trace of veggies in sight, unless you count the humble gherkin! Or you can eat beautiful food, which costs a good deal more, and comes with a lot of other stuff you'd rather not have ie. "Unfortunately we haven't got that wine, and would sir prefer this one (which costs 5$ more), $5 extra here and there, just takes the edge off what would otherwise be a great meal!

The following day, up at 6.30am, and yet another blue sky, very warm day. First ferry over to Coronado Island. We LOVE ferry rides, so reminiscent of the ferries from Darling Harbour. 30mins ferry across to a sandy beach and jetty, with other commuters getting on at the other side to travel to work in the city. Coronado is lovely, with its miles of sandy beaches, harbour-side, or ocean-side. There's a historic hotel, dating back to the 1890s, famous for Edward and Mrs Simpson's first meeting, and the setting for the film , "Some Like It Hot", starring Marilyn Munroe.
It has a very opulent lobby, with dark wood and crystal chandelier.
From here, we boarded the historic city tram, which took us on a circuit of San Diego, round to the Park and world-famous zoo(which we decided not to do, but may come back to with the kids another day), around to the Old Town, where we stopped for a few hours. We had a mexican meal of quesadilla and chimichanga with re-fried beans, and then had a wander. This is where the city began. The Kumeyaay Indians were the native people, until the Mexicans took over. There is a restored house and garden, owned by the Estudillo family. Capitan Estudillo was a fort commander, and his house is built in the typical adobe construction, 3-5' thick walls of sun-baked, adobe, mud and straw bricks on a river cobble foundation. The Kumeyaay Indian worked as cowboys, raising and grazing cattle for their Mexican landlords. The garden was in the middle, full of herbs and flowers, with a cool, shady roofed terrace around the perimeter.
After a look around the tiny graveyard, with occupants who'd been shot, hung for stealing a canoe and eaten by coyotes, we boarded the bus back over the bridge to Coronado and the ferry back. Looking out from the bridge, you got a real understanding of the importance of San Diego as a military and commercial port, with vessels all the way down the port as far as the eye could see, but then it is one of a few large US ports which are on the Pacific.
Old photos in the Info Center showed how the Old Town was just a few adobe houses and scrub in the late 1880s and 40 years later, it had boomed into a large town.
That night we ate in Little Italy, an area with a lot of character, and then off tomorrow, having seen much of what San Diego has to offer, we feel. Good but we'd probably not be coming back again.

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