Day #7 – Day #10
One of reasons why I wanted to do this blog was to provide details and links of places to go/places to stay for anyone searching online. I searched loads of travel blogs before I started this one, and links of places to stay are few and far between. Maybe people are keeping the details to themselves! Anyway, I’ll post an update of all the US hotels another time. In the meantime, on with San Diego. I’m gonna write up the first week as a block rather than a day-by-day account, as we pretty much did the same thing every day.
So, first of all, its hot in San Diego. Really hot. And not humid. And really sunny. Every day. This is awesome! Another awesome thing was actually having Kelly, Alex and Tom joining us for the next part of the trip, as it meant I had people to go to breakfast with (and could leave Tim in bed). The days we did manage breakfast, we either ate at the hotel or The Broken Yolk in downtown. The hotel was a bit expensive and could be a struggle as no one understood my accent (for example, I ordered a tomato juice and got the check!!), and we didn’t really understand the people serving us. It was a bit of a palava. The Broken Yolk on the other hand was amazing. I was happy as I could get a really basic breakfast of a couple of eggs and toast, and the others were happy with their very yummy Mexican style omelettes. On the first trip there, we got served by a beefy tattooed ponytailed guy called NAILS who was a bit of a character. Tom decided to take the Iron Man challenge – 8lbs of omelette and home fries. Eat it within an hour, and its free (and you get a tshirt and go on the wall of fame). When the gigantic portion arrived, Nails announced the challenge to the whole restaurant, and Tom tucked in. He managed to eat half of it – which was a valiant effort considering the size (it was four inches thick in the middle).
First day, Alex wanted to go record shop shopping, and we wanted to check out some of the Awesome Fest bars ahead of the following weekend, so Tim lead us off on one of his walks. On the map everything looked quite close. In reality, it ended up being a three hour hardcore TREK to North Park, first through the gay village of Hillcrest, then through blocks and blocks of nothing! Managed to pick up a good bunch of stuff at the first stop Taang Records (that had rare Misfits 7”s on sale for $900), then we all pitched up at a cool Mexican restaurant called Jimmy Carters for Sunday lunch. Another great thing about San Diego – full of excellent Mexican restaurants, far better than what I’ve been used to eating elsewhere. Final stop of the day was a bar called U31, which is where all the daytime Awesome Fest shows would be, and would come into play the following weekend. Everyone was so tired from the walking, we all just dropped ourselves into a booth and stayed there drinking – until a Dancehall Reggae Party started and we decided to leave!
Tourist trail wise, we went to San Diego Zoo and the Old Town. The Zoo was cracking, and absolutely massive. Usual mad array of creatures, in varying sizes of compound – was weird that you’d see a lion in a small cage looking pissed off, yet the Orang Utans and Gorillas had MASSIVE open enclosures. There was also a very underwhelming Panda exhibit, where the little buggers had all managed to hide for the afternoon. A couple of highlights included Tim managing to stroke a giraffe (that took one smell of him and wandered off from the crowd of people, obviously pleased to find out that humans do indeed smell of cider), and seeing a zookeeper taking a leopard (or was it a cheetah) for a walk. Tom was disappointed cos he wanted to give it a cuddle, but he was warned off. Prob the best idea seeing as the keepers were literally feeding the thing meat every few steps.
San Diego Old Town is a historic village (or town?) just north of downtown. Its populated by Mexican restaurants and gift shops, all set in authentic old style buildings. It felt a bit like walking into the Mexican segment of Red Dead Redemption. I kept expecting a bunch of cowboys to appear and stage a mock-lynching, but luckily we were spared the cheesy actor exhibition. Ate in town fantastic restaurants, Coyote Café and Fiesta De Reyes that did incredible margaritas, which went down very well the day we went there for breakfast. This place also included an insane mariachi band that did covers of the Doors, Led Zepplin and Lynyrd Skynyrd. One of the gift shops was an incredible hot sauce place, where the shop keeper would hold tasting sessions for all the different sauces. We could have easily stayed here all day, as Tim happily kept proving that the hotter the sauce, the less impressed he was. Some of these sauces were insanely hot, almost like eating napalm. While we were all choking and coughing, Tim just stood there grinning.
Most evenings ended up with us heading to Gaslamp District, and moving between three pubs. The first was Stout, an irish bar, that had a 5 hour happy hour and served strongbow (much to Tom and Tims delight). I really liked this bar. It was always empty, there was plenty of room to sit, and the barstaff were all really friendly and helpful. Next we’d move onto The Hopping Pig, where by the last couple of day in Downtown, the barman was getting the round ready before we’d even asked for it (2 ciders and a hieneken right?). This bar did excellent burgers, was weirdly quiet considering how busy the area was that surrounded it, and had an extensive beer list – not all of which were as drinkable as they made out. Poor Kelly spent one night grimacing through a 7% IPA that they’d described as “drinkable”. Kelly thought it was more like “drinking an arse”. Once we’d exhausted the beer possibilities here, then it was time for Tim and Toms favourite pub of the holiday, Patricks. This was a tatty irish bar that had live blues and r&b bands every night, did strongbow, and attracted lots of mental single middle aged (and probably married) women on the prowl. There was a businesswomans convention when we were in SD, and every night in Patricks, another lot of drunk middle aged women would show up and shake their arses to the band. Tom insisted making friends with these nutters – these included Margarita Monster, a 70 year old biddy in a baseball cap that would flirtily lick the salt off her margarita glass at you, a soccer mom that lived in San Fran and was an ex-punk rocker and used to follow MDC, and a chauffeur lady that tried to fix me up with her daughter, and actually phoned her from the pub to try and get her to come down to meet me! The guys got to know the bouncers quite well, including a tattooed skinhead type, who didn’t ID me cos he was far too excited that I had Bouncing Souls tattoos!
Oh yeah, we also hit up the San Diego Hooters, which I loved. It was a much bigger, more touristy Hooters than NY or Chicagos was (the restrooms were called restrooms rather than "crappers"), and was pretty busy with holiday makers. Had my usual wings and fries, and finally picked up the classic black Hooters shirt at last. It kinda reminded me of th Hooters you get in Orlando, and is up there with one of my fave Hooters restaurants.
I guess that’s about it…5 days of tourist downtown San Diego. On the Thursday, it was gonna be time to change hotels, move districts and head for Awesome Fest. So far I really liked San Diego – I could definitely live here, and already have a groovy business idea for the downtown area that they are seriously lacking!