Road Trip USA – San Diego

The drive to San Diego was…well, if I’m being completely honest, a bit dull. 280 of the 327 mile journey is through desert, with the road stretching as far into the distance as the eye can see. Not that it’s not beautiful, but it starts to look a little “samey” after four hours.

We found our hostel at 5pm and met soon after with the five guys we had befriended in Vegas. The afternoon was spent catching up on lost sleep before heading to the famous Gaslamp Quarter for dinner. Because San Diego is so close to the Mexican border, it seemed that one in every three restaurants served their neighbour’s signature dishes.

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Three shrimp, chicken and beef tortillas for $5? Oh, go on then.

A few drinks at the busiest bar in town later and we were all ready for some much-needed sleep. We had parked on the street outside the hostel and the meters would become active again the following morning, so with an alarm set, I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

8am came far too quickly and I stumbled out of the hostel to feed the meter. Morning shocks are never pleasant, whatever form they come in, but that morning was particularly horrid; neither of our cars were where we had left them. Had we forgotten to lock them and become victims of theft? In short, no.

We had fallen victim to our own carelessness. The towing company had removed our cars because that particular section of the road becomes a commuter lane from 6:30am onwards. The morning was spent frantically making phone calls and pooling cash to pay the fines of $400 per car. To sprinkle a little salt on the wounds, the police had issued each car $100 worth of parking tickets for the same reason the cars had been towed.

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A ridiculously photogenic surf boarder on the lookout for the perfect wave

With our pockets feeling lighter, we put our heads together to think of free activities and came up with the obvious answer: the beach. Ocean Beach, to be exact. It was overcast, so we walked the length of the pier (the longest on the west coast at nearly 2,000 feet) and ate lunch at a small café perched perilously over the water. It was here that I was cheered up immensely by the offer of unlimited maple syrup pancakes for $6. Challenge accepted.

The clouds still hadn’t parted by the time we were finished, so we drove five miles north to Pacific Beach, where the water was calmer and the conditions were acceptable enough to don our trunks, swim and play frisbee.

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Even with his dislocated shoulder in a sling, Alex is annoyingly good at firsbee

The rest of the afternoon was spent the same way, and at around 7pm, as the sun was gradually heading out of our day to give someone else theirs, Martin and I jumped in the car and set off for La Jolla, where a free classical music festival was starting that evening, presented by the La Jolla Music Society.

As a huge fan of classical music, this appealed to me very much and upon hearing the programme, I could hardly contain myself. On the agenda was Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, a Vivaldi Concerto for two violins and the real excitement, Octavio Brunetti and guests playing tango works by Piazzolla, including my favourite of his pieces: Adiós Nonino.

A video of Piazzolla playing this piece with commentary can be found here.

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Octavio Brunetti and guests lighting up the stage

The evening also gave way to yet another stunning sunset over the ocean, similar to that at Shi Shi Beach in Washington a month previously. (Blog post here).

And that was San Diego; a brief stop in a beautiful city full of life, sports fans, Mexican food, cops with nothing better to do and a whole lot of culture. I could have spent a lot longer than a couple of days there, but we still had to see one more west coast city before making the long drive back to Portland.

I’m referring, of course, to the city of angels: Los Angeles…

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Ciao, San Diego

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About Zulu Irminger

I am a recent graduate in Computer Science. I have many passions in life: classical music, books and travelling to name but a few.

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