* This post is kind of a travelogue of the highlights of my two-day trip to San Diego with my friends A and S *
A was the one who spotted the raving review of this breakfast/lunch place in a magazine. Hotel B, where we stayed, is bang in the middle of downtown and Cafe 222 was only a few blocks away. So we decided to walk. In spite of hearing the forecast of rain on TV, S was the only one who carried an umbrella when we set off. A and me were filled with (blind) optimism that it would not rain (as it was not raining at that particular point in time) and did not even wear rain-jackets. Sure enough, as soon as were too far away from the hotel to turn back, it started to pour. Yeah, pour, not just rain. So all of us tried to squeeze under one tiny umbrella and fast-walked/ran the rest of the way to the restaurant. We arrived partially drenched - to find a loooooong queue in front of us. But hey, we were out of the rain (even as we watched, the pouring rain turned to hail :-O!) and we could drink our lattes standing up! When we finally got our seats in the funkily decorated place, the food arrived quickly. Boy O boy! The waffles were simply out of this world! Yummy, smaaaccckkk - we all contemplated moving to SD just so we could have the waffles every day!!
This place was sooo good that we decided to return on day 2 too. Bill, the usher, actually recognized me from the previous day when I went to put down our names on the wait list! We were initially told that it would be a 30-minute wait - but for some reason, the wait extended and all the waiting customers got free banana-bread (yummy!) as compensation (good, strong coffee was already free for the waiting folks). Though A, S and I did not complain at all (what the heck, with breakfast so good, 45 minutes of waiting is a cinch), for some reason, the restaurant folk felt guilty. And guess what, after we were finally seated, midway through our meal (the "Joe's special" frittata I had that day was heavenly too), Bill appeared at our table and said that he had given us a discount on our bill as a "sorry" for our long wait. So when we got our bill, guess how much the discount was? We had been given a rockin' 50% discount!!! Sweeeeeeet :-)! Next time we go to SD, Cafe 222 is most definitely on our "spots-to-visit" list!
I love the downtown in most of the cities. Not as a place to live in maybe, but definitely as a place to visit. Somehow, being in the midst of the vibrant and active crowds gives me a natural high! San Diego had a lively downtown - not as big as SF or NYC of course, but nice enough! We walked through the "gaslamp quarter". It had a whole lot of eating-places - we had time to try only two restaurants though. The food was decent, as was the music. It was amazing to see the crowd in spite of the rains! My personal food item in that whole place was the Ghirardelli icecream I had (yeah I know Ghirardelli's is a chain) - the warm milk chocolate fudge topping was simply out of this world!!
For the uninitiated, La Jolla is pronounced "La Hoya" (aaargh - these non-intuitive Spanish pronounciations). La Jolla is where UCSD is located. And as the city's tag line says, it really is a "jewel by the sea". Each of the roads in that city seemed to end with a stunning view of the beach. Lucky residents! We went to La Jolla cove, a spot by the beach where we could spot pupping seals. I just had to stand with my camera and spin around slowly while clicking to capture one stunning vista after another. Someone please buy me a house there!
It is yet another pretty place by the ocean (not fair, one city gets so many pretty spots). It has a cool walk/bike path which runs right besides the beach. We visited here, open-top convertible and all, on day 2 - when it no longer rained (hallelujah) and had a lovely walk by the sea. There were cute cottages/beach-houses for rent right by the beach. I am currently in the process of convincing S that she really needs to own a beach house ;-)!
Old Town San Diego
It is one of those quaint old-fashioned village type places, which seem to be popular in tourist destinations. We mostly shopped there :-D. I guess it will be VERY easy to spend a whole day here without getting bored. We barely got to see even the periphery of this place though(we ran out of time).
Cabrillo National Monument
Forget visiting the monument. Its good, but in this case, its the journey rather than the destination which is even more memorable. Just seeing the views as you go through that piece of land jutting into the ocean, with the San Diego bay on one side and the Pacific ocean on the other, will make your trip worth it. They also have visitable tide-pools there. The colorful pebbles on the sand, the shells, other marine-life, the carved patterns on the sea-cliff - just about everything adds to the experience!
We decided to not visit the usual Sea World/Zoo or other proper "touristy" destinations in SD - I am glad we made that decision. We just pooled in all the sightseeing suggestions we had got from various people and then picked out the places from a map. I did most of the navigation (A and S did all the driving) using only a detailed SD city-map as an aid (with S acting as the supervisor) and ah, even if I say so myself, I think I did a very decent job (when you know that when I went to LA, thanks to my navigation skills, even with yahoo map directions to Disneyland, we actually drove 15 miles in the direction opposite to that of Disneyland, you will realize what an achivement this is for me).
Going with great company elevates even a trip to a so-so place into a "nice" trip. In this case, with a super destination and super companions, my trip to San Diego gets a five star rating :-D.