Flights within Mexico to Tijuana airport are cheap and plentiful. Then the Cross Border Express, a bridge at Tijuana airport to cross the Mexico-US border, provides passage for those with a Tijuana boarding pass (and the usual immigration documents of course). After crossing there, it´s a 40-minute taxi ride to the first main city in the sunny state of California! So that´s what we did to visit San Diego for a long weekend! Sunny walks, wonderful views, beaches and sightseeing options abound, including a beautiful marina and they are all within this walkable city. And don´t miss the short boat trip to Coronado Island!
The climate is fantastic, reminiscent of the Mediterranean, especially with the smell of the ocean air around the city. Some people talk of a dry, desert climate and that immediately conjures up soaring hot temperatures in my mind but whenever I checked temperatures in advance, it was an average of 21 degrees Celsius, which is a near-perfect climate!
In the mellow sun, and despite the occasional foggy skies, it´s easy to enjoy the sights so we set off for the zoo, attending to family (and toddler) fun first. It´s especially famous for its giant pandas, elephants, koalas y kangaroos. Its history is well-documented in the San Diego History Centre. It´s interesting how it grew from one man´s “crazy project” with a few exotic animals (left after the 1915 Panama- California Exposition – a turning point in the city´s history) and no more than 1000 USD to become the pride of the city, spread over 100 acres of Balboa Park. A pioneer of open-air, cage-less exhibits that reflect natural habitats, it also shows the value of persistence in a community. Dr. Harry Wegeforth´s turned his crazy project, over time, into the Zoological Society of San Diego, now a large non-profit organization with many benefactors, supporters and volunteers. As well as being an inspiration for other zoo and safari projects, it has almost half a million members.
Balboa Park is a must for the tourist. So much to see and do amidst beautiful buildings, fountains and gardens. There you´ll find art, science and history museums, biking and hiking trails, restaurants, arts and crafts to buy, children´s play areas, dog parks and performing arts in the gardens by evening (including works of Shakespeare J).
From downtown, a walk to the marina implied a walk through the Gaslamp quarter for us, full of restaurants and bars and a place to people-watch in San Diego.
Generally, it is surprising to see how new the city of San Diego is. I should add my wonder might also reflect I am from the Old World where most cities are much more than 100 years old! The development in many parts of the city is recent (I am talking about in the region of 100 or 150 years) and the marina development is one example. As a natural harbour, it continues to be an important port as a base for the United States Navy. It was made clear in the handover of California to the Unites States (after Mexico losing the territory in 1848) that this port was to be part of the US, highlighting its importance as a territorial piece. You can find out about its history along the promenade and you can relax, shop, jog, or dine, just to mention a few things you can do there. The walk along the promenade is very pleasant and there´s a boat across to Coronado Island –just a 15 minute scenic cruise- for the best beaches. (La Jolla is also a good beach option but it is further away from downtown San Diego).
There are some fantastic views on board of the ocean, the city and Coronado Island. And for glamorous views sipping cocktails or eating in style, you could take the lift up to Manchester Hyatt´s Top of the Hyatt, or a little further off the promenade, to Altitude Sky Lounge at the Marriott.
As I have mentioned, one fascinating thing about San Diego for me, was to imagine how the city grew in such a short time into a modern, thriving and beautiful place. There are some spectacular modern offices, and moving around the city for work or play doesn´t seem to me (as an outsider admittedly) too stressful in a pleasant, dry climate. I would also think the size of the city doesn´t lend itself to the high stress of let´s say, the large, traffic and people congested cities of Los Angeles and New York. Nonetheless, I am sure there are many different impressions or experiences of San Diego. Please comment on your impressions of the city, as a place to live, work or spend time as a tourist. I would love to read your comments. You can write here, drop me a message or comment on Facebook. And it would be fantastic to know your views on cities like San Diego that have an impressive sprint of development – I´d love to learn lessons from there. I think of the “desert town” where I live in northern Mexico and it´s amazing to think that, 200 years ago, you might say they were at a similar point as a city (ie not much of a city there at all!)
Might it even be something to do with that fantastic climate and the inspiration of the sea! What do you think? Thank you for reading!