San Diego, California – Traipsing in North America

This is another one of my adventures during my assignment in Phoenix, Arizona, back in 2008.

This place would probably ring a bell to most Pinoys, having  quite a substantial Filipino presence. Its location close to the border with Mexico, and its sizeable Asian population gives it an “international feel”, which I would believe is typical for California. Though not as famous as its neighbors up north, Los Angeles and San Francisco, I still think it can certainly hold its own, and it is in fact the second largest city in state (after L.A.).

The city sits beside the Pacific Ocean, on the Southern end of the State of California. Named after Saint Didacus of Alcala, we now know it as San Diego.

San Diego is a 3 to 4 hour drive from Phoenix, if I remember correctly, through the I-8, the interstate splitting the Sonoran Desert from east to west. Since much of the journey goes through the desert, you mostly see dry, arid land for most of the trip, until you get to the Pacific coast.

One of the must sees in San Diego is the marine oriented theme park called Sea World. It’s home to an astounding variety of sea bourne creatures, and for most of us terrestrials, its the closest we could come to them without doning a dive suit. The park has practically everything that you can find in a children’s book about sea animals, from seals to penguins. It’s got delights for the kids in us too, and I guess everybody old enough to go to the cinema when Free Willy was shown, would look forward to see the Killer Whale show. It was quite a sight to see those giant sea mammals splashing around and drenching everyone game enough to sit near the pool. I’m usually a kill joy when it comes to audience participation, but I must admit that those whales got me shouting “shamu! shamu!” along with everyone else.

They also got a few thrill rides at Sea World

It was indeed my first time in a Sea World. They also have a park Florida, and while I had been to that state before, I chose Disney World and Universal over it. I didn’t regret that, but am I glad to finally see the great black and white whales (or giant dolphins if you really wanna get technical about it) this time.

Another thing that the place is famous for, is the San Diego Zoo. We didn’t go to the San Diego Zoo itself though, but rather to it’s larger, younger sibling, the San Diego Wild Animal Park (The name has since been changed to San Diego Zoo Safari Park). Unlike the usual zoo (including “fenceless” once like Singapore’s), the Safari Park  holds animals in an “enclosed free-range” environment. Here they can roam around large tracts of land. While the disadvantage, compared to the regular zoo, is that the animals stay farther away from the viewer (making a long telephoto lens/camera a necessity), it does show the viewer more “real world” pictures of the animal’s habits out in the wild. The highlight of the park is its “Journey to Africa” attraction. Here the animals roam in a wide expanse of arid grassland, mimicking an African safari.

A visit to both parks could fill up two days though, so we didn’t get to see much else, though I would think there’s more to San Diego than the animals on its parks. We spent some time for dinner at a section called Hillcrest, which I think is known for a diverse variety of stores and shops. We also took some time for a “side-trip” to Coronado, an island just off the coast which features expensive houses and a high-end hotel, the Hotel Del Coronado . On top of that, I also took some time in the evening and mornings to roam around the streets near the hotel, while everyone else was still either half-asleep, or half-awake.

Our hotel

The streets nearby

Hillcrest

The nearby streets during the day

A passing tram

Something familiar

The Hotel Del Coronado, on one foggy afternoon

I don’t think I’ve seen enough of San Diego to really make a solid opinion of the place, but I do think I’d like it there.

* This trip was taken June, 2008.

* All pictures taken using Sony DSC-H50.

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