After the joy of Anaheim, San Diego, the second leg of our California trip beckoned. As Aussies, the idea of driving in American conditions on 'the wrong side of the road" for the first time was both exciting and daunting.
From our accom at Islander Inn in Anaheim, we were able to walk to a car hire place, and sort out a car. We chose to not pay for the extra insurance (but not before ensuring that the excess was covered by our travel insurance). With a Holden Captiva (or American badged equivalent), we hit the highway to San Diego. Although I was a passenger, my fists were clenched for the first 30 minutes of driving. Eventually hubby proved his driving skills and we started to relax and enjoy the trip.
As we came towards San Diego, less than 2 hours later, we stopped at Mt Soledad National Veterans memorial. The haze affected the view, but it was impressive nonetheless.
It was a short drive from here to our accommodation in San Diego, Homewood Suites Liberty Station. This particular hotel was perfectly located, being both on the waterfront where there were walking trails, and near the San Diego airport, the latter proving useful when we decided to upgrade the car for a larger model. Our bags were proving an issue, and the Chevy Impala was a better choice as all of our suitcases fitted neatly in the boot.
On all our travels in the USA, Homewood Suites have proved a great option for families. With 2 bedroom hotel suites at many of the Homewood Suites, the kids can have their own room (and often with 2 double or queen sized beds) and tv, and some space from their parents. With a bit of breathing space, we can better appreciate the trip and each others company in the car. And with an unbeatable buffet breakfast, and buffet dinners a few nights of the week, it makes managing the holiday budget and logistics so much easier.
Old Town San Diego
We spent our first full day of San Diego at Old Town, a historical park commemorating the birth of Spanish settlement in California. There is a mix of original and reproduction homes, and if you can tag on to one of the free tours, you will gain so much more from your visit.
There were wonderful dining options, and on returning one evening, the air was alive with joy and laughter and plates piled high with Mexican food. There were also boutique shops, selling art, jewellery and the like. .
Do read my separate post on Whaley House, a historic (and reputedly haunted) home within Old Town, one on which I discovered an image of a Fox Terrier on a photo I took, but only noticed this when compiling a photo book a year later.
As a typical Aussie with only a superficial awareness of the history of California, I highly recommend visiting here.
San Diego Trolley System
As a Melbournian coming from a city with a historic and well established tram network, we were both surprised and impressed with San Diego's trolley system. We thought it would be a terrific and cost effective way to explore the city. Standing confused at a trolley stop trying to work out the ticketing, a customer service representative came over and rendered assistance. With maps in hand, we headed for Tijuana (which entailed a change of lines). It was a fair distance (all up we were gone half a day for the return trip), and on arrival at McDonalds Tijuana, we were happy to have a lunch, and not so happy to discover the toilets were the worst, we have ever ever ever witnessed.
By taking the trolley, we got to experience the changing landscapes of the city (and being rather tired and still jet lagged, the gentle rocking motion of the trolley got us some well earned rest while we viewed the surrounds!)
One of the most eagerly awaited destinations of our trip, and the reason we originally chose to spend a few days in San Diego, was Legoland. The pinnacle of the childhood dream. We did find though, that we probably missed the boat by about a year. With our oldest son now 12, the interest was starting to wane, and the attractions probably best suited to mid Primary School. It was also SO expensive to get in, particularly when compared to Disney. By about 3pm, we had seen everything and were ready to get a bite at the Costco around the corner.
Master 9 thought it terrific though, and also was as pleased as punch to win the design and race your vehicle challenge. Legoland is definitely a wonderland for the young.
While Legoland didn't meet our incredibly high expectations, that was just a matter of timing, and we would have been more disappointed to have never gone at all.
Wonders for young and old encompass marvels of engineering, technology and history. All of which to be found in the magnificent USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. Always on the look out for a deal, we used coupons in one of the tourist magazines for cheaper entry. I had to walk in the hot sun to the nearest visitor centre to pick up a tourist magazine, but in doing so, got the free child entry with every adult. And it was money saved. For our family of 4, entry worked out at $40 usd
One could wander through at leisure from deck to deck, or join one of the tours. We spent many hours, and whenever it got too hot, found a spot in one of the lower decks. To see how these brave men lived, it was an amazing experience.
We had planned to bring a compass on board to look for any strange ghostly movements, but forgot! I would love to come through here at night though.
And plenty of photo opportunities!
There was a stunning view of San Diego to behold.