I learned that San Diego had trams – trolleys – when I was figuring out how to get to my hotel. And a town that has this mode of transport can’t be all bad. We were staying in a hotel on the northern fringes of the Gaslamp Quarter – the part of San Diego that was tuned for tourists and visitors, filled with restaurants, bars and hotels. And while things seemed perfectly safe, I couldn’t help the corner of storefronts for bail bonds and lawyers. And the corners of the hotel and nearby 7-11 had its rotation of vagrants and homeless. They were the living shadows in a place devoted to economic revival.
I went to U.S.S Midway, a decommissioned aircraft carrier turned floating museum for the Navy. And the navy have a persistent presence in the bay, with destroyers, carriers and other craft undergoing resupply or repairs. The Midway is interesting in seeing how much of a microcosm a large ocean-roaming vessel has to be. Inside of the carrier was a miniature hostpital, machine shops, stores, full service kitchens, and varying degrees of accommodation.
The aircraft hangar is now the main floor for the museum with several aircraft (more are on runway deck) serving as reminders of the various craft that served aboard the Midway during its near-fifty year run. And there are a few flight simulators, with full seven-twenty-dregree movement to give you a feel of flying a fighter. And everybody ends up in a horrible corkscrewing-death-plunge. Everybody. We later went on a tour of the harbour and see the various sites up and down the bay.
I caught up with a couple of friends, Jessica and Jonathan, who had moved to the area from the Antipodes. It was nice to see them again and give them a familiar accent, face and to pass on some love from the friends they had left behind. At night, the Gaslamp Quarter comes alive with touts and live music acts to coax you into bars, diners and restaurants. Art gallery storefronts and speciality shops stay open late to draw in those few dollars more.
The San Diego Old Town was a brilliant highlight of the trip. This was a park designed to be replicate the original San Diego from yesteryear, with restored, century old buildings to serve tourists. A great deal of the people were dressed in period clothing, though thankfully, didn’t have to speak in a similar style. The Cosmopolitan hotel was now a restaurant and bar, where we enjoyed some libations, including some homemade rootbeer. The stuff was basically syrup which had to be cut with soda water in order to make it drinkable. And then there was an attempt to make a cocktail out of it using some Tuaca.
From there, there was a hacienda house, whose buildings and courtyard had been converted into several shops and a restaurant. I bought some art prints of women in Dia de los Muertos makeup. I was told the artist, but I cannot recall it. Which is a pity because I want to order more, even the original art.
Then from the Old Town, my buddy and I ended up in Hillcrest. There we found Brazen BBQ, place that was running an early happy hour. We went in a sat down for a half rack of ribs and a couple of Dark ’n’ Stormy’s. Some of the best ribs, I’ve had in a long time. Smoked and cooked and barely charred, these ribs fell from the bone and melted in my mouth with some nice south-west flavours.
And that pretty much concluded the visit to San Diego. The rest of the trip was basically me completed and utterly focused on returning to LAX to catch my flight to get back to the Antipodes. The return flight was easier, I slept more, although I really lost a day and walked around like a zombie for the 48 hours.