I love San Diego! It is clean, friendly, easy to get around and exciting. As their slogan says, “America's finest city.” Plus, it is extremely dog friendly – which tells you a lot about the people of San Diego. Flying in to the airport was a breeze with a short 8 dollar taxi ride to the hotel – Best Western Bayside Inn, which I highly recommend for its great location (close to the trolley and walking distance to Gaslamp and Petco). Hard Rock was our first traditional dinner with a stroll down the Gaslamp section. As Chris said, “Ten years ago, (well, maybe more) that would have been me” referring to the clubbed out, slick 20-somethings waiting in long lines for the coolest clubs. We were happy to soak in the hot-tub and surf on the wireless internet before bedtime.
Old Town was interesting, though a little like Wisconsin Dells, with its reconstructed historical houses and more stores than one person can shop in a day. However, with a little dose of historic plaques, I could get a good sense of what life was like in the 1860s. I especially liked Casa de Estudillo – imagining my wealthy and historic self waltzing through the courtyard into the fantastically furnished bedroom, guitars playing softly in the background. The first public schoolhouse showed me how far teaching has come as a profession. As a woman, I'm allowed to be married, don't have to clean out the stove and lantern fumes, and get a little more than a 25 cent raise every five years.
San Diego Zoo was everything I anticipated, and more. We purchased the best value ticket, which allowed us all day access tot he skyrider and busses. Definitely worth it. We first took the airel view of the park and caught our first glimpse of the panda – wandering, off-exhibit, through its backyard. The polar bears were not swimming, but rather munching on carrots and strolling around. Finally, we stood in the 30 minute line to see the pride of the zoo – the pandas. The baby was hung up in the tree, mama was hiding in the back of the exhibit, but papa – he was happily munching on bamboo, front and center. After just reading, The Lady and the Panda by Vicki Croke I was deeply touched with this exhibit, and even more impressed with Ruth Harkness's journey to discover and protect these wonderful creatures. The other highlight, for Chris, was the two exhibits of meercats. We also stopped at the cafe by the pandas for lunch and was surprisingly impressed with the food, for a captive audience it was tasty and not too overpriced. The end of the night was capped off with the acrobatic show entitled Jewels of the Rainforest. The basic gist of the the story was to encourage humans to help protect the rainforest. The bungee birds and gymnastic butterflies were wonderful.