old jail cell in Old Town
After waddling our way out of Richard Walker's Pancake House, we got into our car and drove to Old Town. Old town was the site of the oldest Spanish settlement in what is now California. It was established in 1769 and has been nicknamed "The Birthplace Of California". Today, Old Town consists of quaint shops, restaurants (mainly Mexican cuisine), and historic buildings. We happened to visit on the weekend of the annual art festival. There were booths set up in the middle of the main street with artists selling everything from paintings to jewelry. We spent time browsing the booths, souvenir shops, and a handful of the many small historic buildings and museums. However, the place that we will remember was a shop called El Centro Atesano that sells yard accessories. Traci and I had been looking to replace the worn-out wind chime on our front porch at home but had a hard time finding anything in our local stores. Well, this particular shop in Old Town had hundreds of wind chimes in all shapes, sizes, and tones. It took us a while to make a decision but we eventually bought one. Our 2 to 3 hours in Old Town had been a pleasant time consisting of leisurely walking, shopping, history, and even a brief refreshing downpour.
Old Town Art Festival
Moving on, my sister Sugar had vacationed in San Diego a few months before Traci and me. She told us to make sure we check out Hotel Del Coronado, a.k.a. The Del. (Thanks for the reco, Sug!) This grand hotel has been in business since 1888 and is a national historic landmark. It has accommodated world leaders and has been featured in several movies.
To get to the Del, we had to drive across the Coronado Bay Bridge, one of the highest bridges I've ever seen. Once there, luck was on our side as far as parking. I found a metered parking space on the street in front of the hotel. The previous person in the spot had actually left enough time on the meter so that I only had to add a quarter to cover our visit. I definitely did not want to pay $20 to park in the visitor lot of the Del.
strolling the beach at the Del
sunset at the Del
The Del has expanded to be a lavish beach resort. The beach is one of the biggest I've ever seen. There were several weddings going on throughout the day both on the grounds of the hotel and on its beach. Traci and I spent time strolling the beach area and browsing the shops in the lower level of the hotel. We also took time to walk along the wide sidewalks of Orange Avenue which are lined with more shops and restaurants. I noticed many people like to walk their tiny dogs in this area. Overall, I was most impressed by how clean this section of the city is. There was an air show happening in the area so occasionally our peaceful walk and casual chatting was interrupted by the ear-splitting roar of fighter jets banking overhead.
We decided to celebrate our last evening in San Diego with dinner at the Del. We were seated on the outdoor terrace under the heat lamps (San Diego gets chilly at night). Our pricey meal was just okay but we had a gorgeous view overlooking the beach and ocean at sunset. We enjoyed chatting with our waiter as well. He became really excited when he found out we were from Philadelphia. Although he has lived in San Diego all his life, he said his dream is to go to Philadelphia to attend an Eagles football game. This seemed odd to me but he told us that his love of the team came about from years of playing the Madden NFL football video games.
fancy sea bass
our last night in San Diego
After dinner at the Del, we drove back across town to our hotel where we would begin the ritual that would occur every few days on this vacation; that is, pack our bags in preparation for the next leg of our trip. The next morning, we would fly to New Mexico. [Continue to Santa Fe...]