Ok so a tiny warning. Its 1:35am and I just got back from the tour groups first big night out! Im feeling pretty good, but I thought I would apologise in advance just in case.
So as for yesterday. There was nothing really to report. I travelled from my Hotel in LA down to Anaheim by Train. The only thing I did in Anaheim was check out the Downtown Disney district, which was an area of the Disneyland Complex that was open at night with restaurants and shops within the whole Disney theme. It was cute and fun. After that a brief Contiki tour meeting and then out with some fellow Contiki travellers for dinner. All in all a pretty low key day.
This morning 7am was the official start of our Contiki tour. Ya I think that hurt everyone a bit. We drove from our hotel in Anaheim down to San Diego. Unfortunately the whole trip down our Tour Manager spoke on the bus microphone outlining anything and everything. It was definitely needed. Just not at 7am.
Once we made it into the heart of San Diego city we jumped straight onto an hour long boat cruise in the Harbour. We quickly learnt that San Diego is a huge Military town. With close to 250,000 troops (mostly navy) posted to military bases in San Diego. Everything from land vehicles to helicopters, fighter planes to warships and even huge aircraft carriers. We were told that a large portion of the fleet was all out in Hawaii competing in the military war games. But even still there were navy presence everywhere throughout the harbour. Quite extraordinary. All were actively in use around us the whole of our cruise.
Following the cruise it was back onto the bus and touring deeper into the city. Can I just say Wow! After coming from LA, San Diego was simply stunning. A really beautiful and clean city just bursting with character.
Our first stop was Balboa urban culture park. We were only here a short time, as it was meant to just be a taste, with the idea of us coming back to explore in detail tomorrow. What we did see of it was beautiful. Gardens & parklands, water fountains & features, museums & exhibits, themed café & restaurants. Even an outdoor auditorium that was home to the worlds largest outdoor pipe organ. On a clear blue sunny day like today. A place you could easily spend hours.
After our brief stop here it was into the city centre and in particular the Gas Lamp quarter. This is an area within the city centre spanning 16 blocks that was originally established back in the early 1800's. The area is of extreme importance to the city and still houses many older style traditional buildings. We were stopped here primarily for lunch and again to have a taste of the area, with the option to return tomorrow.
We went out for lunch in a group of about 8 of us. Again no one finished there meal. Portions are just enormous. Like stupid big. But quite interestingly the restaurant had 250 different beers on tap. Ment nothing to me, but for the beer drinkers in the group, it was heaven. After lunch we walked some streets of the Gaslamp Quarter just taking in the beauty of it all. We then out of curiosity poked into the 'Horton Westfield Mall'. The major difference was that because of the constant fine weather in California, the mall is predominately outdoors. Kinda like 4 levels of strip mall shopping. Like nothing I had seen before. But created such a great atmosphere.
Leaving the Gas Lamp Quarter we headed over the Coronado bridge that crosses the harbour onto Coronado Island. Im sure my photos don't do it justice. But quite possibly the most relaxing, peaceful and beautiful places I have ever been. There is a wealthy boutique shopping area, as well as some stunning million dollar homes. But simply the best part is down at the waters edge. There is some cute little café & restaurant options. Some gorgeous & well maintained grass & beach areas and to top it all off huge 180deg views of the harbour and city skyline from the pier. Really must be seen to be appreciated.
Honestly I would have much rather stayed here for the evening than go to our last destination. Being that we were no longer able to go down into Tijuana Mexico because of safety issues. We were taken to an area of San Diego called 'Old Town' which was the first area of California to be settled. And basically the setup, the stores and the restaurants all run as Mexican style businesses. So it is like a 'little mexico'. I have to admit that nothing really about that place or that culture excites or interests me. So after maybe 15mins of exploring I was ready to move on. Only our stop over was 1.5hrs in 'Old Town'. Anyways you cant love everything on tour.
So tonight was our first big tour party night out together in the Gas Lamp Quarter. Firstly we all went to a Restaurant organised by our Tour Manager called "Dicks last resort" It was without a doubt the craziest restaurant I have ever seen. When I say crazy I mean it is custom to throw scrunched up serviettes across the restaurant at other tables. The staff bring around these huge almost 1m tall paper hats that they have written things on such as "sleeps well with others" to give you an idea. It is so loud and crazy in there that the staff have to yell at you to take your order. Then they bring the whole tables out all at once. 40 meals/drinks all 'american sized' of course just take up the entire table. All throughout your meal, serviette bombs flying around the restaurant. Crazy!
Following this we went to a Bar called "Double Deuce". Here $2 was the theme of the night. $2 shots, $2 mixer drinks (American strength of course) and $2 mechanical bull rides. A lethal combination for 2 Contiki tour groups equalling close to 80ppl. I'll let your imaginations fill in the rest of the night…
Still no sign of my roomie, but time for me to hit the hay. Up early tomorrow for Sea World.