“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” Moorish proverb
The first thing I discovered upon arriving in San Diego was that I wasn't in Phoenix anymore.
There was an actual atmosphere with clouds and marine layer and cooler temperatures and humidity.
And there was vegetation everywhere.
There was actual green growing life with a multitude of different flowers. It was automatically invigorating.
Don't get me wrong, I love Phoenix but sometimes you get tired of stepping outside and having your skin seared off and your eyes and nasal passages shrivel up and evaporate.
This is the way to relax and enjoy your time off.
No schedule, no plans, no time restraints and no idea what is going to happen next.
Today, I will start taking you through some of the interesting, engaging and enjoyable things we did and saw while in San Diego.
I am Soooo glad I bought tickets to see the Padres.
I am not a huge baseball fan.
Spring Training in March in Phoenix is one of the greatest events of the year for me but to sit through a professional ballgame for 4 hours when there has only been two hits and the score is one to nothing is just not my idea of exciting.
But, from the minute we rolled up to Petco Park, I knew this was a special ballpark.
Chase Field in Phoenix is very nice and located right downtown.
SafeCo Field is a terrific setting in downtown Seattle but Petco is built right into downtown San Diego, literally.
It is tucked into the neighborhood using existing buildings in some cases as the perimeter of the outfield.
How cool is that?
Architecturally magnificent, it celebrates the unique spirit of the region.
Innovative design features evoke the timeless traditions of baseball in an intimate setting and plenty for fans and families to do.
We bought the cheap seats on the outfield grass (just like spring training) and proceeded to sit all over the stadium.
The views from the upper deck are very cool.
The old warehouses in the outfield now house bars and restaurants and lend a great nostalgic feel.
The options for food and beer were fantastic.
And considering the size of the crowd for a Friday night, the people were all happy and considerate and helpful……almost like they were all having a good time.
I do recommend that you shoot across the street to the Marriott Hotel and up to the Altitude Sky Lounge for a few adult beverages.
We watched the last few innings from this 22nd floor venue.
I heard that Altitude is the highest roof top bar on the west coast.
You can see everything up there including beautiful sunset views of Coronado Island, San Diego Bay, Downtown's Sky Line and Petco Park.
There is room to lounge around a cozy fire pit or you can sit on comfortable couches underneath a beautiful garden trellis while sipping on their favorite drink.
My choice for the night was Drambuie on the rocks.
There was even a pretty good DJ spinning in the background.
For a while there, I think we felt like the "beautiful people".
After an incredible breakfast Saturday morning, my girlfriend and I decided we would head to Balboa Park, probably the premier destination for tourists visiting San Diego.
We first attempted to take the trolley line and bus combo to the park but I couldn't figure out how to buy the tickets. It must have had something to do with all of the beer sampling I did at Petco the night before. So we headed back to the Hotel to see if we could get a shuttle which they didn't offer (go figure?) but the valet suggested we walk since it was only about 1 1/2 miles away.
That sounded good so we hit the road.
The walk from the hotel takes you through the north side neighborhood and in less than a mile you are outside the park.
Unfortunately, the valet didn't mention that the walk was entirely uphill.
But, there is plenty to see (and if you know me, I love the unbeaten path) and we enjoyed the brisk walk.
There are some very nice Victorian homes to see, plenty of crazy vegetation and having the giant FedEx planes landing right over your head (the airport is just a few blocks north) was an added treat.
It is the nation's largest urban cultural park.
Home to 15 major museums, renowned performing arts venues, beautiful gardens and the San Diego Zoo, the Park has an ever-changing calendar of museum exhibitions, plays, musicals, concerts, and classes—all wrapped in a magnificent setting of old world architecture, stunning horticulture and beautiful parks.
This is a "must see" attraction and is meant to be slowly savored and breathed in.
My favorite way to see it all is to ride the free trolley around the park several times (or until the driver hints that you have been on it too long).
Like I always recommend, check for discount coupons.
The only one we stopped in was the automotive museum and it set us back $17 for two people.
They were hosting a unique "low rider" exhibit but there was nothing in the overall car collection that was off the wall.
I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the small motorcycle exhibit they had in the back of the museum. There were some very nice original bikes (foreign and domestic) from the early 1900's.
The buildings here are beautiful enough to be considered attractions in themselves, but the real draw is the culture, history, science and arts held within their walls.
Among its attractions are eight gardens, 15 museums, a Tony Award-winning theater and the San Diego Zoo.
The flora and fauna is magnificent and the smell of gardenias permeates the entire park.
Bring your camera.
The best part of Balboa Park, as far as I am concerned, is that all of the good stuff is outside and it's all free.
Since we were staying right in Little Italy, most of our trip was spent walking in and around this lovely neighborhood.
San Diego’s Little Italy is different from most major urban neighborhoods.
This is a stable ethnic business and residential community that has thrived since the 1920′s. It is not just a tourist attraction. Little Italy today represents Downtown San Diego’s oldest continuous neighborhood business district.
A little research shows that at one time, more than 6,000 Italian families lived in Little Italy and worked to build San Diego into the center of the world’s tuna industry (who would have thunk?).
With the decline of the tuna industry on the West Coast and the destruction of 35% of the neighborhood due to the construction of Interstate-5 freeway, Little Italy suffered nearly thirty years of decline. In the early 1990′s, established property owners and family-run business owners decided to rebuild their community and heritage.
We were lucky enough to be visiting during a Sicilian Street Fair so Sunday morning the streets were lined with booths, shops and entertainment.
The wine, the food, the smells……aaaahhhh it makes me so happy that I am Italian.
Oh, that's right, I'm Lithuanian.
You know what, that is a lot of travel blogging for today and we have just scratched the surface talking about the great places we visited in San Diego.
How about we save Coronado Island, La Jolla and the Gaslamp Quarter for another day?
If you found today’s blog helpful, interesting, or even funny, I bet your friends would too.
It's easy to tell them about it.
Forward it on to them or just email them my blog link at www.survive55.com.
The more Baby Boomers we can help, the better place we make this world !!!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”