The San Diego zoo is not as large as I expected it to be.
It's a beautiful zoo, very well laid out with winding pathways through a jungle-like setting, but it's not as big as everybody says it is. In fact I'm pretty confident in saying that the Calgary zoo is larger in terms of being more spread out. You cannot see the entire Calgary zoo in one day, you can certainly see the San Diego zoo in one day. (Naturally I do not include the Wild Animal Park in this for, although it is part of the San Diego zoo, it's not even in San Diego).
But there is a lot to see - pandas, hippos (and hippos pooing which you can view from a premium underwater vantage!), koalas, gorillas, meerkats, polar bears, zebras. And especially the llama-like creature which we were warned would spit right in your eye. It stood right at the edge of the enclosure, you could almost reach out and touch it, except that it was salivating like mad, working up a fine gob to hit you right in the face. I kept waiting for it to nail somebody, but the damn thing was too sly.
The 35 minute sightseeing tour on the double decker bus was well worth it. The guide was clever and entertaining and informative, and we knew after the tour how we wanted to plan the rest of our day.
We had enough time and energy left at the end of our zoo outing to walk over to the Natural History Museum to see the A Day in Pompeii exhibition. It was a fairly short exhibition, but very striking. The plaster body casts on display of people and animals who were asphyxiated and preserved in the rapidly accumulating layer of hot ash were particularly moving. The dog especially, twisted like a pretzel as it tried to scramble to stay on top of the layers of debris until it strangled on its leash was heartbreaking.
We all moved very quietly and reverently through this exhibit. I wish we had more time to see all the museums in Balboa Park, but I guess we shall just have to come back again sometime.
Tomorrow we fly to San Francisco. I have been looking forward to this part of the trip for a long time. I have always wanted to visit San Francisco, I just never realized that I would love San Diego so much. I miss it already.