San Diego, California

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC spent a few days in San Diego last week, taking a well-earned rest after our hard work in Long Beach. San Diego is bigger and more vibrant than this worm expected. It’s very like the other bits of California that we’ve seen, in that the air is bright and the roads are wide. There’s some Mexican influence, but not as much as this worm was expecting. The city centre (“downtown”) is quite flat and is right on the sea shore. There are lovely little hills all round, housing Balboa Park, the zoo and La Jolla.

My impressions? Seaside prettiness, big-city architecture, high tech industry and a bit of military action combine to make San Diego an interesting place to visit.

Travel tip

Take a coach and harbour tour to get the big picture, then pick the areas that you want to see more closely. The TC decided that she’d seen enough of La Jolla from the bus. This worm concurred.

Recommended accommodation

The Bristol Hotel in downtown San Diego. It’s close to the harbour, the restaurants and the trolley buses. Service is very warm and friendly, and the rooms are spacious and comfortable.

Recommended restaurant

O’Brothers in the Gaslamp district of San Diego. It’s on the second floor of Horton Plaza. Three of the staff members welcomed the TC, one by one, as she walked in. Even from the depths of my book in her bag, I could feel her heart go pitty-pat! She declared her meal (a Cobb’s salad) to be delicious, and there was a lot of it. Fast food, yes, but of good quality. The TC made a point of finding and complimenting the manager.

The book I’m in

The ELI Event, by Dave Gash. I’m at the beginning of chapter 18, and wishing the TC would hurry up and move me on. This is a great read! You may think my opinion is swayed by the fact that Dave Gash is a friend of mine and the TC’s. But no. This worm is unbending and unbendable when it comes to matters of literary review. Are you looking for science fiction, time travel, artificial intelligence, great characters and action packaged as a good solid yarn? Then this is the book for you!

The photos

Me, Peg and Hugs at the entrance to the Old Town State Historic Park in San Diego:

San Diego, California

Who’s that with me and Peg, I hear you gasp? That’s Hugs the Koala. She’s a cuddly sort and a true blue Ozzie, although, funnily enough, she joined us in Long Beach. This worm has grown quite attached to her, and she to me. I’m guessing she’s a keeper in the TC’s little clan of hangers-on.

San Diego, California

The Old Town Market in the State Historic Park, complete with bell tower, cactus and pointy succulent:

San Diego, California

The San Diego Old Town was established in 1769, the birthplace of California, our coach driver informed us.

The TC was quite taken with the blue sky peeking through the tower of the Immaculate Conception church:

San Diego, California

El Campo Santo, an old graveyard in the Old Town, now happy with children running through it. In 1993, the city used ground-penetrating radar to discover these old graves under Linwood Street:

San Diego, California

The tourist section of the Old Town:

San Diego, California

The Coronado Bridge, spanning the gap between the mainland and Coronado Island. The coach driver told us that 277 people have committed suicide by jumping off this bridge:

San Diego, California

The Hotel Del Coronado, 1887, built in 11 months!

San Diego, California

A fighter aircraft over the hotel, providing poetic contrast in this idyllic setting:

San Diego, California

Coronado beach:

San Diego, California

Another guardian looming out of the gloom:

San Diego, California

Me and the TC took a boat tour of North Harbour. Lo and behold, there was Jonathan, gliding over the city:

Jonathan over the city

North Harbour is awash with naval activity:

Navy in North Harbour

A navy boat with a dolphin on board, heading out for a training session:

A dolphin aboard a naval boat

The dolphin in training with the navy personnel:

Dophin in training

A fighter jet taking off on North Island:

Fighter jet taking off

Me and Peg, about to board the USS Midway. This aircraft carrier is the longest commissioned in the US navy. It is now a museum:

USS Midway

On the flight deck, a jet attached to the launching mechanism:

A plane attached to the launching mechanism

A tale of woe follows. After an hour or so on board, the TC decided she wanted to get off.

Off the ship. Leave the boat. Go to the mainland. Disembark. She uttered all of those phrases, and more, to one of the official guides on the boat. He was standing at a spot near one of the planes, looking uninterested. And instead of showing us the quick exit, he sent us on a round-the-corridors trip into the ship’s innards.

When the TC emerged pink and flustered at the exact some spot, let’s call it spot A, the same dude professed not to have understood her the first time, and sent her to the end of a queue of people waiting to do the “Island Tour”. When she protested, he assured her that this was the only way off. “Just go all the way down there,” he said.

So we did, bypassing irate queue-hoggers, only to be told we were in the wrong place. A second dude took us through a cordonned-off door, up some stairs and through some corridors, and ushered us out with a flourish – right back at spot A, where Dude 1 was still to be seen!

At this point, the TC bless her cotton socks burst into tears. Amidst the floods, she remonstrated that there must be a way off, there should be a big “EXIT” sign, this is ridiculous, the only available sign says “EXIT, DO NOT ENTER” … and so on.

At last, Dude 2 got the general flow of things and took us to an unmarked lift, which took us down into the bowels of the monster and after a few more corridors led to the gangplank. It took us more than half an hour to get off that boat.

So, here’s another travel tip for free: If you’re ever on the USS Midway, plot your exit route at each level and don’t believe anything the official guides tell you.

A corridor on the USS Midway:

Corridor on the USS Midway

Pointing the way to the battle dressing station, a sober reminder of the crew’s activities of yore:

sign to battle dressing station

Me peering through a porthole:

Yours truly at a porthole

Phew, back on dry land and in the open air at last. The Santa Fe Amstrak station, right near the harbour:

Santa Fe station

Inside Santa Fe station:

Inside the station

The San Diego trolleys are made by Siemens in Düsseldorf, West Germany:

Trolley

Looking up Broadway from the docks towards downtown San Diego:

Broadway

Now, this is how to design an interesting, attractive shopping mall. Horton Plaza:

Horton Plaza

Inside Horton Plaza:

Horton Plaza

Some people have big feet and some people have huge feet. A polar bear at San Diego Zoo:

Polar bear at the zoo

And some people know how to pose for a pretty picture:

Giraffes at the zoo

That’s all for today dudes.

Published in: on 23 March 2011 at 2:03 pm  Comments (4)  
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Long Beach, California

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are in Long Beach, California. The TC is attending a conference on technical communication. I’ve come along for the ride.

So far we’ve seen the beach, which is long, and some gracious old buildings, which complement the new entertainment complexes, and lots of friendly people.

The TC had a strange encounter on our second day here. As so often happens, she found herself wandering around in places where she’s not supposed to be. At the moment, and perhaps perpetually, the footpaths in Long Beach are in disarray due to some major road reconstruction. The TC went wandering down the causeway, dodging barricades and warning signs, in search of a more interesting route to the shops. She strolled past the only other soul in this bleak area, then did a double take when she noticed that the other woman was weeping. Quite forgetting that she was in California, she turned back and asked the passer by, “Are you OK?” This question elicited a long tale of woe, revolving around the fact that the other poor soul’s “number is 8” and that the number 8 had not been on a good footing since the 8th of August 1968. The TC, bless her cotton socks, took it all in her stride, commiserated and assured the woman that the wheel of fortune will keep turning and will come back round to her in good time. Then they parted ways, each to continue meandering more or less contentedly on their life’s journey.

I myself stayed wisely silent in the safety of my book.

My impressions? Long Beach is smaller and more drab than this worm expected. Still, it has that great open feeling that I’ve noticed in other parts of California.

Travel tip

Don’t speak to strangers unless you’re ready for them to talk right back at you.

Recommended accommodation

Hyatt Regency, 200 South Pine Avenue in Long Beach. This is the conference venue. It’s plush and convenient, with friendly and efficient service. Photo below.

The book I’m in

Portent, by James Herbert. It’s an unsettling coincidence that the TC chose to start reading this book just before the awful series of earthquakes and tsunamis that have hit Japan, and so soon after the earthquakes in New Zealand and the disasters in other parts of the world. Portent is a somewhat mystical book, weaving natural disasters into an extended Gaia philosophy built upon James Lovelock’s ideas. This worm recommends the book for a good fast read in James Herbert’s best style.

The photos

Me at Long Beach:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

A building that graces one end of the beach:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

Another gracious building, in Pine Street:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

Below is the Hyatt Regency on Pine Street. The waterway around the hotel is part of the Rainbow Lagoon Park:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

More of the Rainbow Lagoon Park, round behind the hotel. In a fast action scene in the film “Last Action Hero”, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, this park masqueraded as the La Brea Tar Pits:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

Most days, Arnie is not around and the park is home to a quieter, more contemplative crowd:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

Here’s a view from the hotel window showing Shoreline Village, a tourist’s delight of food, sweets, T-shirts and lovely water scenes:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

Moving slightly to the left of the above view, you can see the rest of Shoreline Village, as well as the Queen Mary which is now a hotel and tourist ship, and another ship at dock:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

The TC and I trickled down to Shoreline Village to soak up the sights:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

Me looking back at Long Beach proper, from the boardwalk at Shoreline Village. Or, I should say, from just off the boardwalk. As you can see, the TC does not hesitate to dump me in the dirt if it serves to make a better snapshot:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

A blog post about California would not be complete without a sunset, preferably with some palm trees tangled up in it:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

That’s all for today dudes.