Temecula, San Diego

I know in my last post I said we were off to Palmsprings next but I believe I was quite asleep when I typed that because our next stop was Temecula. We took the Sunrise Highway, a National Scenic Byway, through the Cleveland National Forest,  on our way to Temecula and boy, was it worth the extra drive!!! It was a long and winding road with absolutely stunning views!! And I saw my first orange trees along the way! That was so exciting!!

image_20140619012249536

image_20140619012801156

image_20140619012547491

image_20140619012400796

The photos really do not do them much justice.

The drive was over too soon and we found ourselves in Old Town, Temecula. It is a sweet little town with a main street filled with old style shops, plenty of restaurants, also an olive oil tasting company, a wine tasting place, a science camp place for kids, antique shops. We stopped in at the Sweet Shop because our son’s sweet tooth had gone into overdrive.

collage_20140619020428221

The owner of the store was so sweet that when he heard that I had never had a pop rocks candy, he treated me to one. Isn’t that sweet??

collage_20140619020911911

And after buying some fresh strawberries, nuts and oranges from a local produce store, we went in for some wine tasting at the Temecula Valley Cheese Company.

image_20140619015943153

It was so windy!! But it was a wonderful cool windy. And with an old guy strumming on his guitar, crooning old Beatles songs, chilled glasses of wine and yummy cheeses teasing our palates and a fabulous view, we did not mind the wind at all! It was all fabulously mellow.

And its only going to get better at our next stop ~ Pointe Vineyards.

The itty bitty about the nitty gritty ~ San Diego

I had such lofty dreams before beginning our California trip. That I would post many photos, include many more details than I have been, wax poetic about what we see….but, as it happens, I am barely able to keep up with a simple posting what with the super slow WiFi and it taking upwards of 5 minutes per photograph, and me barely staying awake after a long days travel. Buahhahaha…

Anyway, a little bit about the city of San Diego. We simply fell in love with it. The energy, the sunshine, the soft cool breezes, the pretty houses with pretty gardens, the food….everything!!!!

We stayed at the Wyndham Harbor Lights in the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown. Its a good hotel with big rooms. The extra pull out bed can easily sleep 2 small children. The laundry is in the basement and keep in mind that each cycle takes 45 minutes and there are only 2 washers and 2 dryers and they will give you detergent at the front desk.

Its a wonderful location if you want to spend a lot of time in the Gaslamp Quarter. There are tons of restaurants and bars within walking distance. And it was simply hopping on a Friday night replete with Hare Rama Hare Krishna Yogis. There are many bicycle rickshaws zipping about and you can hire those anywhere. They play loud music and you can sing/scream along and sometimes the crowd joins in. I think they cost anywhere from $15 to $30 but don’t hold me to it.

Its a brisk 25 to 30 minute walk to Embarcadero, the Maritime Museum and the Midway Museum which are along the port area.

Its about a  20 minute drive from the San Diego Zoo ie The Balboa Park.

Its also about a 15 to 20 minute drive to the Sunset Cliffs.

Now the parking! OMG!!! There are many garages around the area and I believe they charge an average of $25 to $30 a day. But we were told that we could park on the streets after 6 pm until 10 am for free BUT, here’s the catch….the street sweeps work from 3 am to 6 am and they alternate which side of the street they work on on weekdays. The parking meter tells you which days are no parking days but keep in mind if it says no parking on Thursday, it means Wednesday night since Thursday technically begins after midnight Wednesday night (they sweep in the am). I know, it gets really confusing. So if you are going for this, read the sign properly and then read it again. We learned the hard way and had to pay fines. :P

Well, that is all from San Diego!!! Thank you for listening in! Next stop, Palm springs!

Richard Walker’s

Breakfast time and Richard Walker’s beckoned with their HUGE Belgian waffles and apple pancakes and melting crepes.

 

image_20140618021701996

image_20140618022009180

image_20140618021855357

(The interiors are inspired by the architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.)

Well, I might have braved their apple pancake because I have a thing for apple pies and this promised to taste like one if not yummier if it weren’t for the fact that they are really really HUGE and we are traveling and leftovers become a challenge. (I couldn’t simply throw all that yumminess away!!!?) So, I settled for their fresh French strawberry crepe, our son had the chocolate strawberry crepe, and my husband had the diced ham and 3 egg scrambled eggs.

image_20140618022128487

 

Let me tell you, the food was DELICIOUS!!! The crepes simply melted in our mouths. The strawberries were sweet and there was this heavenly lemony, orangey drizzle that I couldn’t get enough of. So much so, that I polished off all three of the crepes <shhh..you didn’t hear that from me. ;)>. My son wants me to mention that the chocolate was exceptional too and tasted like it was made from the best dutch cocoa. In short, it did not taste like melted Hershey’s. The eggs too were light and fluffy, the orange and grapefruit juice freshly squeezed. 

All in all, we were more than satisfied and walked away happy and satiated.

P. S. Look for the bunny on the menu. That is the house favorite. It seems the bunny is a symbol of hospitality.

Maritime Museum and Midway Museum.

MARITIME MUSEUM

The Maritime Museum is just fun!!! You get to walk on board 4 different ships and 2 submarines.

The ships – Star of India, Medea, Berkeley and the HMS Surprise.

The Submarines – B – 39 Submarine and the USS Dolphin Submarine.

image_20140617234310580

Star of India

It is one of world’s oldest sailing ships.

image_20140618001129749

image_20140617234451349

HMS Surprise and behind that, the Berkeley.

image_20140618010041404

HMS Surprise was used in the Hollywood movie, Master and Commander: The far side of the world.

image_20140617234757795

wpid-imag1056_20140617212858870.jpg

Inside the Berkeley.

Inside are the Maritime offices, workshops, a museum shop, a research library and a huge special events room that is gorgeous.

What really blew my mind was all the riggings, all those ropes going here, there and everywhere. The sheer science of it and the enormity of the sails and all the hard work it entailed! Wow!

wpid-imag1050.jpg

The Submarine.

The B – 39 is a Soviet submarines was used in the Cold War.

The Dolphin is the world’s deepest diving submarine.

(Claustrophobia in a metallic nutshell.)

MIDWAY MUSEUM

image_20140617233730301

The Midway

It is the longest serving Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century.

It is GINORMOUS!!! And it is nothing short of a miracle that it even floats!! The main deck extends for what seems like forever! And has many many many service airplanes and choppers on display. You get a recorded tour with earphones that leads you through the upper deck, the below deck and the main deck. There are 66 tour ‘points’ and it takes about 3 to 4 hours to go through all of them. I did not take any photos because we did not have much time and I wanted to see as much as I could.

image_20140617234650243

It was truly truly awe inspiring. And THAT is a gross understatement. I had a chance to talk to a World War II veteran who was in a camp for a year and half, one amongst thousands, and was present when General Patton arrived to rescue/release them. It was so very humbling talking to him. I shook his hand and thanked him the best I could because honestly words failed me. We owe all those men and women an eternal debt of gratitude for their selfless sacrifice. For saving the world from unimaginable atrocities. Though I felt the inadequacy of my gratitude, he seemed to understand. He looked into my eyes, nodded his head and smiled. Its alright his smile seemed to say. Its all alright.

image_20140617234107454

A few words to ponder.

And on a lighter note….

image_20140617235623276_20140618001911718

Unconditional Surrender

This 25 foot (?) sculpture, based on a famous World War II photograph, is in the Port of San Diego right outside the Midway. I thought it was cute. :)

Buona Forchetta

Buona Forchetta.  Located on Beech St in San Diego, it was our next pit stop. Wood fired pizzas and pastas beckoned, not to mention the desserts!!! Can I say, YUM?!!!

It is a cozy little place in a residential area with a lot of seating outside which, I am beginning to see, works so well for the California weather. Inside it was all white cotton curtains, dark wood, cream and brick walls. Classy! The servers spoke to one another in Italian. I could have closed my eyes and imagined myself in Italy. Not that I know what restaurants look like in Italy but hey, one can pretend, right?

First order of the evening, Sangiovese, Lo Duca, Italy and Artichoke.  The artichoke was simply dressed and cooked to perfection! It was SOOOOO GOOD!!!! It went down really fast! And a Margherita pizza for the boyo. The Pizza actually tasted like the one we had in Paris which sent into transports of nostalgia and joy. The crust was so light and airy. We finished the edges after dipping them in the leftover artichoke drizzle.

image_20140617223039390

For the main entree, we wanted to have some gnocchi and since we were half way full and wanted to share it and I am a vegetarian, they cooked a vegetarian Gnocchi just for us. Isnt that the sweetest thing? It had Marinara sauce which was so fresh, I swear I could taste the vines on the tomatoes! The gnocchi was light and it was sprinkled with vegetables.

image_20140617223501846

For dessert we had Millefoglie. Light as air Puff Pastry filled with a light, sweet and frothy cream and strawberries. Oh my word, the strawberries! Soft and sweet with fresh off the farm freshness. They quite made the dessert. Oh, and do try their Port wine. It was really good with hints of caramel. It was very tawny!

All in all, a wonderful end to a wonderful day! Cheers!

P. S. I did not take photos of the restaurant because it was buzzing with people and I could not get a shot sans people.

I also did not take photos of the dessert because the minute I saw it, all thoughts of the camera went right out of my head. ;)

Balboa Park

After hobnobbing with the four legged darlings, we exited the Zoo, turned right, and walked towards the other side of Balboa Park (we left the car parked in the Zoo parking lot, it is public parking).

It is a very beautiful park with a lot of Spanish influence.

Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre urban cultural park in San Diego, California, United States. In addition to open space areas, natural vegetation zones, green belts, gardens and walking paths, it contains museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. There are also many recreational facilities and several gift shops and restaurants within the boundaries of the park. Placed in reserve in 1835, the park’s site is one of the oldest in the United States dedicated to public recreational use. Today, Balboa Park is managed and maintained by the stewardship of the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of San Diego. Named for the Spanish maritime explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, the park hosted the 1915–16 Panama–California Exposition and 1935–36 California Pacific International Exposition, both of which left architectural landmarks. The park and its historic Exposition buildings were declared a National Historic Landmark and National Historic Landmark District in 1977, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places. ~ Wikipedia

There is so much to see and experience here! At least 4 days worth of seeing and doing but all we had time for was a quick stroll which was lovely in itself.

image_20140617012542935

Casa Del Prado Theater

image_20140617014402326

Lovely porticoed walkways that connect all the buildings.

image_20140617015429171

The California Bell Tower or The Museum of Man.

IMAG1004_20140617024119960

The California Bell Tower or The Museum of Man.

collage_20140617020421598

The Botanical Garden and The Globe Theater.

The Botanical garden is pretty and there was even a violin player playing pretty tunes. It was kinda romantic. Wish we had time to linger and listen to her play.

The Globe Theater is a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and has live performances through the year. You can buy tickets online based on the time of your visit.

Although the Museum of Man looks like a church, it is actually a museum and has always been a museum. It has some wonderful exhibits including  casts of original Mayan Stelae which are in better condition than their original counterparts and are studied by researchers. Although we did not visit any of the museums on this trip (there was no time :(), we did catch a glimpse of it through the rotunda. It looked really impressive.

There is also a Museum of Torture. I believe that is self explanatory. ;)

And the San Diego Museum of Art which focuses on Spanish artists like El Greco, Diego Velazquez, Francisco Goya, Ribera but hosts some impressionist painters too I believe.

From here, we backtracked and walked towards the other end of the park. There is a beautiful rose and cactus garden here with hundreds of varieties. At least, to my eyes they looked like hundreds of varieties. It was amazing!! We lingered here for a minute or two to smell he roses.

wpid-collage_20140616232957017_20140616233008268.jpg

We had planned on spending time at the Spanish Art Village but it closes at 4:00 – 4:30 and since we were still in the Zoo, we had to forego that. But, there is always a next time, right? ;)

San Diego Zoo

We simply could not have asked for a better day at the Zoo! It was pitch perfect temperature, in the mid 70s, soft sweet breeze, blue blue skies. We got there around 10:30 AM and stayed until 5:30 PM.

If you visit, plan on spending the whole day here because its a HUGE Zoo, with much to see. And make sure you carry a map because you are going to need it. We started at one end and circled around and still managed to get lost once or twice. But we didn’t mind because it was glorious to walk in this park.

wpid-imag0938.jpg

The first thing we noticed was the foliage. Beautiful! We could not stop exclaming over the blossoms, the creepers, the ferns, the massive trees and tree trunks. Some of the plants were familiar to us because they grow in India and I couldn’t help naming them which makes my husband roll his eyes every time because he thinks I am making them up which, of course, makes me do it even more. :D

wpid-collage_20140615192544672.jpg

 By late afternoon, a lot of the animals were down for their siestas and boy, after all that walking, we were ready for one too! But onward and forward. We did see reptiles, giraffes, elephants, a lion gnawing on a bone which made me thankful that I was on this side of the fence, a lioness licking her chops and looking at us as though she wouldn’t mind seconds, a tiger who seemed to be taking a morbid pleasure in yawning and displaying his extremely sharp and serious looking molars, a very restless and humongous rhino who kept running around his pen, lots of monkeys, sleepy koalas, sleeping kangaroos, they being the latest additions to the zoo, a howling white wolf (my favorite!), polar bears, a fox, meercats, an orangutan in a sack (apparently he got really bored of watching the humans and needed some alone time), exotic birds, just to name a few of the inhabitants.

wpid-collage_20140615203052696_20140615203104290.jpg

wpid-collage_20140615202515243_20140615202534477.jpg

wpid-collage_20140615203612979_20140615203622006.jpg

By now all that walking had made us so HUNGRY and I am glad we had packed lunches from Bread & Cie which we enjoyed thoroughly under the balmy palmy shade. Yup, we sure snarfed down those sandwiches! After lunch we walked around for some more “socializing”.

And we also took the Skyfari gondola ride which was AWESOME!!

Note: It goes one way, you get off, go around to the other side, and climb back on to go back.

wpid-imag0930_20140615211902482.jpg

All in all, it was a great day! But I wouldnt be honest if I didnt say, I still love our Cincinnati Zoo better! ;)