Monday, March 24, 2008

great California odyssey: trolley tour day

There's something weird about the wallpaper in our hotel bathroom. It's patterned with small leaves and if you look at it for any length of time, the leaves start to swim and swirl. I feel like I am in the Overlook Hotel from The Shining when I am in that bathroom.

But San Diego is an incredible city. There is a surprising depth of cultural diversity and a deep history in this place, of which I was previously unaware. But it is, after all, the birthplace of California.

Today we took a trolley tour throughout the city. We left the hotel just before 10 and got home at 6. It was a long but very full and satisfying day.

With this tour, you are able to get off at 10 different places throughout the city and board again whenever you are ready. And as you are bombing along in the trolley, windows wide open, careening around corners, not a seatbelt in sight, the drivers/tour guides (all retired dudes as far as I could tell) regale you with snippets of history alongside cornball jokes and musical moments. It's an oddly surreal mixture of fascinating history, tacky tourism, and NASCAR racing.

Highlights of the day:
- Coronado Island - I kept having visions today of myself at age 75, living in Coronado, puttering around in my motorized scooter and bitching about the tourists. I have no idea where this comes from.
- dipping my feet in the Pacific
- Balboa Park - home to the San Diego Zoo and something like 13 different museums and galleries all in a beautiful park setting. The architecture is fantastic, reminiscent of the grandeur of buildings I have seen only in Europe.
- the restored hacienda at the historical park in Old Town. It was a stinking hot day today and inside the hacienda, it was deliciously cool. The walls are a good two feet thick, they knew how to build back then.
- the yachts and tall ships at the harbour, especially set against the backdrop of the San Diego "toolbox" skyline.
- the US aircraft carrier, Midway. The flight deck alone is 4 acres in size. This thing is insanely huge, I can't even begin to tell you what an awe-inspiring sight it is.
- fish and shrimp and fries and beer at the pier

San Diego is all tall sharp points of sail masts and palm trees, low flat roofs of adobe buildings, new luxury highrises and lovingly preserved historical mansions. You need to see it to believe it.


18 comments:

kelly said...

yep kinda what i was thinking.

Robbie's cousin is a dentist in San Diego and we are fortunate enough to be able to stay with him and his family when we go there. Yhey are about a 20 minute drive to balboa park. I don't remember the name of the street but I did find it on google earth...I love google earth. Glad you are enjoying yourself

Dale said...

Sounds like an excellent foray you've got on the go Barbara - enjoy the rest and lack of rest.

jim dandy said...

I lived in San Diego back in 89-90. Met the Circle Jerks after a show in a bar, seen Danzig and some hardcore club, and went to TJ on a weekly basis. Cool city but too fast for me. A great place to visit. Have you hit the Hard Rock in La Jolla yet? Have fun and stay with the group!

Allison said...

Your first highlight is my goal in life. ;)

It sounds like you are having a wonderful time, its really a beautiful place eh? I love Balboa park! Enjoy the Zoo today, another highlight. When I was there last they were making the cages for the lions bigger. I hope that has actually been done now.

BeckEye said...

When in Balboa Park, did you have the urge to walk around yelling, "Yo, Adrienne!" I know I would. And I'd give in to said urge.

668 aka neighbour of the beast said...

sounds like you are making the most of your trip. good job!

URBAN BLONDE said...

It all sounds sound lovely ..... and warm.
We woke up to more fricken snow here in Calgary Monday morning. And wind. It's melted now but the internal scars remain.

Good time to go Zombies! Enjoy! Can't wait to hear more! I am perfectly willing to live vicariously through you.

(&%$^#!!!!! Hopefully 3rd times a charm on the word verification.)

justacoolcat said...

I love it when a tour has the option to get off and on at leisure.

Sounds like a blast. Careful of the CA chemistry; I hear it can make the wallpaper seem like it's moving.

mellowlee said...

Mmm fish and shrimp and fries and beer at the pier sounds marvelous to me!!! I hope to go there some day :O)

Gifted Typist said...

To quote a certain commentator on my blog:
Tell me, why didn't I get invited on this trip?

Anonymous said...

Now we're having a mini-blizzard in Manitoba!! I already am in love with San Diego. And am very happy for you 3. Had those beers at poolside for me yet? Better throw in a few more.
Cheers
Berni

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Why didn't you tell me, Kelly? We would have stayed with Robbie's cousin!

Three people in one room does not a lot of rest make, Dale, but I figure I can sleep when I get back to work.

We saw the Hard Rock in the Gaslamp Quarter, but didn't make it up to La Jolla, Jim Dandy. You hung out with the Circle Jerks? Cool!

Balboa Park is gorgeous, Al, and I could see how all those museums would just be a dream for you. We went back for a second run at it.
We could be belligerent retirees in Coronado together!

No, but we constantly have the urge to quote Ron Burgundy (go fuck yourself, San Diego) the whole time we are here, Beckeye.

We are very concerted and directed travellers, 668!

I think we are due for some snow when we get back to Calgary, UB. Yoiks! And to think we were bitching about being a little cool as we sat around the pool after dark in out bathing suits last night!

I stayed away from all the chemical stuff, JustA, maybe it was the chlorine in the pool.
Yeah, it was a great tour!

You HAVE to, Mel! It's fabulous!

Touche, Gifted. Next time I will be sure to send an invitation.

Oh Berni! That sucks donkey balls! We have been having beers (and also red wine) poolside for you each evening. I do hope it's been helping.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Why didn't you tell me, Kelly? We would have stayed with Robbie's cousin!

Three people in one room does not a lot of rest make, Dale, but I figure I can sleep when I get back to work.

We saw the Hard Rock in the Gaslamp Quarter, but didn't make it up to La Jolla, Jim Dandy. You hung out with the Circle Jerks? Cool!

Balboa Park is gorgeous, Al, and I could see how all those museums would just be a dream for you. We went back for a second run at it.
We could be belligerent retirees in Coronado together!

No, but we constantly have the urge to quote Ron Burgundy (go fuck yourself, San Diego) the whole time we are here, Beckeye.

We are very concerted and directed travellers, 668!

I think we are due for some snow when we get back to Calgary, UB. Yoiks! And to think we were bitching about being a little cool as we sat around the pool after dark in out bathing suits last night!

I stayed away from all the chemical stuff, JustA, maybe it was the chlorine in the pool.
Yeah, it was a great tour!

You HAVE to, Mel! It's fabulous!

Touche, Gifted. Next time I will be sure to send an invitation.

Oh Berni! That sucks donkey balls! We have been having beers (and also red wine) poolside for you each evening. I do hope it's been helping.

John Mutford said...

We took a bike-pulled rickshaw tour along the harbour front. We didn't actually go on the Midway, but went past it on our way to a boat tour. And you're right about the fish and chips, yum! Did you see the gigantic statue of the naval guy and nurse smooching?

Moxie said...

Did you go to Anthony's for the fish and chips? That's one of the best seafood restaurants down there, in my opinion. And I think I know which Mexican joint you visited at Old Town.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

No, I didn't see that statue, John, and we didn't go through the Midway either - we ran out of time - but we did walk down to the end of it and tugged on the mooring ropes.
One of those guys tried to sell us a bike ride but he was so aggressive that we ran away.

We DID go to Anthony's,Moxie - to the Grotto. It was pretty tasty.
And we went to Fred's in Old Town - it was lots of fun.

Toccata said...

I wanted to be there with you careening through the streets on the trolly car. What fun!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Those drivers were nuts, Toccata! But oddly entertaining.