Adventures in San Diego

Memorial Day 2003–c and I took a trip down to the warm and beautiful San Diego, by way of Tijuana, Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island, and finishing off with a lovely dinner at Cliff House in the ritzy town of La Jolla. The trip was a bit spur of the moment–the weekend before memorial day c and I realized we didn’t have any plans for the vacation and took advantage of a last-minute travel deal on yahoo travel.

Plans got adventurous when we decided to take our love for tacos to the next level and seek them out in San Diego’s close cousin, Tijuana. After tickets were booked, we started to figure out ways to get into Tijuana and were a bit alarmed to find that all travel guides were adamant that under no circumstances should Americans drive into the country itself, due to the high probability of car accidents and insurance scams! The recommended approach was to part one’s car in “secured” parking lots just outside Tijuana (on American soil) and walk into the country.

Tijuana had a rough and somewhat desparate feel that border towns often do. I definitely got the feeling that people were always trying to make a buck off us. I’d been to Tijuana once when I was young and remember my parents and I finding lots of interesting things to buy–ponchos, marble chess sets, agate wind chimes carved in the shape of a bird, lots of pretty silver jewelery, and mexican jumping beans! but things had changed in the 15 years since I’d been. I wasn’t that interested in many of the seemingly mass produced knick knacks that were available, for the most part devoid of craftsmanship.

c and I still managed to have fun, though. We were determined to find a local market we’d read about in our research, the mythical Mercado Hidalgo. armed with a not-to-scale walking map, and the solitary spanish phrase we had between us–“Donde esta mercado Hidalgo?” we set out on an ambitious plan to walk what turned out to be a multiple mile journey, oftentimes with only the direction of a local pointing vaguely and reassuring us, “three blocks”. c definitely started to get nervous, and we attracted our share of attention from the locals, at one point even prompting a mexican police trooper to slow down and ask if everything was ok. But the destination at the end was well worth it. stalls of exotic and fragrant mexican fruits and spices, and the best tamales, fresh from what was sure to be a local woman’s kitchen–warm, sweet, and redolent with that distinctive masa flavor that I’ve grown to love.

After an uneventful return to US soil, historic Hotel del Coronado on San Diego’s Coronado Island was the next stop. Built in the late 1800’s, the hotel was someone’s grand vision to be the best resort town in the united states. We enjoyed a nice breakfast at a cute cafe in the downtown coronado area, and then spent the rest of the time prowling the grounds and beach.

We capped off the evening with a stroll around the lovely La Jolla, and dinner at the Marine Room. The restaurant is built so that the ocean comes straight up to the walls and windows of the restaurant! When the tide is up and the water is stormy, the waves will actually beat against the window panes. and the food wasn’t half bad, as you can see.

More pictures available
, although none of Tijuana–we pretty much didn’t bring anything of value, including a camera!

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