Tuesday, July 27, 2010

San Diego....where the sun shines all year round! (June 19-22)

That’s right, Winter is pretty much non-existent here and as soon as we found that out we felt lured to migrate! San Diego is known for its brilliant lifestyle…living by the sea, with perfect weather all year round. The people are known for being very chilled out, relaxed and why wouldn’t you be with those perfect conditions!

Our friend David, who we met in the UK, has moved to San Diego not too long ago and we decided to catch up with him while we were there. As it turned out, he was borrowing a condo apartment in a resort style complex and we had the absolute privilege of dossing on the couch (Thanks David!!). Honestly, what an incredible place to live….it had a pool, spa, sauna, games room, a beach volleyball area with real sand and outdoor eating facilities complete with barbeques for those long summer nights. In the short time we were there, we made use of the barbeques and had our first ‘cook up’ since leaving Australia over a year ago! We forgot how much we missed a good barbie and of course Tim did a superb job of cooking it. Some of David’s friends came for the meal and we all hit it off instantly! So much so, that we were invited to go out with one couple (also David – we’ll call him David2 & Nicole) for Sushi the following night. We had become extremely addicted to sushi since being in the US and could not pass this up, particularly with how well we were getting along with these guys. They were concerned that they might have been overwhelming us, but we couldn’t have been happier to go! We have learned to love those spontaneous moments so much and have discovered that it’s usually where the best experiences come from.

And this quickly became one of those best experiences….we arrived at the sushi bar and before going in, we sipped cocktails at the Italian restaurant next door while watching the sunset. Just beautiful! And the cocktails were exceptional too! We were all starving and made our way into the sushi restaurant. Nicole had told us that this was where her favourite sushi was made and it was handcrafted by a chef named ‘Go’ who she had lots of fun with every time she visited. ‘Go’ frequented our table and each time he did we geared up for a shot of warm sake (a Japanese spirit). Tim and I didn’t really bother looking at the menu and just let Nicole order her favourites for us to try. We were not disappointed!! The sushi that was served literally blew our minds! Honestly, we didn’t know that raw fish could actually taste that good! The sushi we had tasted in the US up until this point was incredible, but we were sure that nothing could be better than this. The servings were big, decorated like a work of art and the flavours complemented each other perfectly. We invited Go to Australia to come and live with us…the only condition being he needed to pay his way by making sushi on demand! Lol. He was keen! Two bottles of wine later, accompanied by lots of laughs and fun with the staff, it was time to leave (although none of us really wanted to). It was so strange to be saying goodbye to David2 & Nicole who we had just met and knew they could definitely be great friends! Despite imagining what could be, we had a choice to appreciate the time, albeit short, spent with some obviously special people. Through small windows in time, significant opportunities and experiences are waiting if we are willing to seize the moment.

The stunning sunset

The work of art, otherwise known as sushi

Us with Go, the sushi chef

Us with David, David2 (right) & Nicole

Some fun with the staff

Although most of our time in San Diego was spent recharging our batteries, we did spend our last day at the world famous zoo. The grounds were massive and we had a good hike around the multiple steep walkways checking out the very diverse group of animals. Unfortunately we viewed a lot of empty enclosures because the animals were hiding away, but who can hardly blame them with the huge number of people crowding around trying to catch a glimpse of them. The joy of peak season and school holidays! At times, it did feel a little bit like we were part of the herd and the animals were viewing us! Lol. Especially with one gorilla who sat right against the glass and tried to throw her food over the barrier to the people on the other side. It was the cutest thing though to see a small girl with her hands on the glass and the gorilla’s hands against hers. Unfortunately we didn’t capture that moment on camera simply because there were too many people in the way. We were a little concerned about a few animals that were in small enclosures on their own with seemingly no stimulation at all. One bear in particular was obviously in distress and pacing its enclosure back and forth…..slightly disturbing. We became very aware of how uneasy we were feeling about viewing all these animals in enclosures and wishing they could be free somehow. I’m sure most of them don’t know any different and they are cared for very well, but it did make us wonder. I think maybe we would prefer seeing animals in their natural environment and we might just consider a trip to Africa one day.

The highlight of our time at the zoo was the bird show. We had been to a few before at theme parks in Oz and expected this one to be pretty similar but we were unexpectedly surprised. We were entertained by a talking parrot with the incredible ability to sing ‘Old Macdonald had a Farm’….for some stupid animal lover reason, it brought me to tears! We saw birds exhibit their natural behaviours and one who was trained to take monetary donations from people’s hands and place them into the slot at the top of the donations box. A cheeky yet very clever way of raising money for wildlife conservation. We even got to see one bird misbehaving and flying off into some neighbouring tree and the trainers trying to coax the bird to come back while still entertaining the crowd. You can watch a short clip of the show including the singing parrot by clicking this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMpojEp9h_M&feature=related. The bird show alone was worth our money.

The cheeky raven

We left San Diego with regret, knowing it was our last night in California and feeling like we definitely could have enjoyed staying there a whole lot longer. As a way of consoling ourselves, we stopped to pick up a serving of Cold Stone ice cream on the way out which we had previously discovered and decided it’s pretty darn amazing! It’s like cold rock, but so much better. Their signature creations are the best! http://www.coldstonecreamery.com/icecream/signature_creations.html

Mmmmm, one of Cold Stone's Signature Creations -
GERMANCHÖKOLÄTEKÄKE® ....chocolate icecream with brownie, caramel & pecan nuts.

We enjoyed driving the coast back to Los Angeles and when we arrived, took a stroll along the Santa Monica boardwalk. We had planned to spend the night parked in a Walmart carpark knowing that they allowed overnight parking, but we realised at the last minute that the area was less than desirable or more to the point quite unsafe. There were no campsites or RV parks anywhere in the local area, it was 10:30pm and we were running out of options. We finally managed to get permission from a local supermarket to use their carpark! Brilliant!! So our last night was spent listening to the sounds of sirens and local parties in Santa Monica and waking up to chainsaws being used on the carpark garden as well as the dump truck picking up rubbish. Ahhhh, the serenity.

Our deepest distress came when we had to drop the van back to the Escape Campervan office. After having it for 34 days we literally felt like it was ours and the keys literally had to be pried from our fingers. The crew kindly dropped us to the airport where we were headed for New York City. It was a sad day indeed.


Post a Comment