Wednesday, September 8, 2010

San Diego Day 4 - Coastal Day

In the morning we went for brunch at Cody's which is a quaint restaurant in La Jolla Cove. When I was reading the San Diego Magazine there was an advertisement with this awesome picture of French toast. It looked so yummy that I had to try it. It does not disappoint and tasted as good as it looked in the picture! This delish French Toast is made with "Bread & Cie" Challah served with fresh strawberry compote, warm maple syrup, and caramelized walnuts.

We then explored the Cove nearby where the sea lions and birds bask on the rocks. We've noticed that the typical weather pattern here is cloudy in the morning and the sun breaks through in the afternoon and then its all blue skies and then in the evening its overcast.

J&J tidbit: La Jolla in Spanish means "The Jewel" and is pronounced lə-HOY-ə. This is where University of California, San Diego and Torres Pines golf course is located.

By the time we headed to Mount Soledad there was almost not a cloud in the sky. Mount Soledad borders La Jolla and Pacific Beach and this mountain has a 360 degree view of San Diego, and oversees the beach and Pacific Ocean. The residents that live on this mountain have quite a sweet view. It is their equivalent of the homes of the British Properties in West Vancouver. At the top is an erected Christian Cross along with a memorial commemorating the soldiers that fought in the wars.

We then headed to Pacific Beach where we rented Cruiser bicycles. This is the best way to explore the Boardwalk of Pacific Beach which connects to Mission Beach and then around to Mission Bay. These beaches are miles long and would not be so fun if we had to walk it. You get to see the beautiful vacation homes bordering the boardwalk and people chillaxing. The Cruiser bikes are a popular mode of transportation by the locals.

After the beach we headed to Old Town State Historic Park which recreates life in the Mexican and early American periods and then squeezed in another hour of retail therapy at Nordstrom Rack. There are so many things to see and do in San Diego there is actually no time to shop. Hard to believe! Only 2 hours shopping in total for this entire trip!

We then ended the trip by treating ourselves to a nice dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Del Mar.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

San Diego Day 3 - Shamwow and Gang

Today is the morning we went hotel hopping. I thought it give us an opportunity to explore different areas and to diversify the risk of getting a hotel we didn't enjoy since we "Pricelined". We are going to miss getting our room cleaned twice a day at Westgate. Though our stay was enjoyable with classic European luxury we will now get to experience a hotel with modern ammenities. We left our central hub of The Westgate Hotel in downtown and off to the coastal area where we checked into The Hyatt in La Jolla. Prior to leaving downtown we did an hour of retail therapy at Horton Plaza which is an outdoor shopping mall 2 blocks away from our hotel.

After checking into the hotel we headed to the In-N-Out Burger in the Mission Bay area for lunch. I have never had a burger so was quite stoked to finally see what all the fuss was about. I'm amazed at how simple the menu is but the concept works just on the fact it sells fresh burgers.

We then headed to Sea World. If you like to see sea animals perform or if you have kids, this is the place to be. We've never seen so many range of different strollers parked during the show performances from Bugaboos, Quinny, Maclaren, Perego, etc. This will be the next hot vacation spot for many of our friends in the near future when they bring their kids. Shamwow is Seaworld's main attraction, and she didn't disappoint. There's also a sea lions and otters' show which does a parody of Saturday Night Live (they call it SLL-Sealions Live..hehe), as well as dolphin's and acrobats' show.

Other sites visited include the freshwater aquarium, dolphin feeding area, sting rays, sharks and Arctic exhibit.

We rode on two rides: Wild rapid and Journey to Atlantis, both getting us uber wet beyond our expectations. It sucks to wear wet cotton clothes.

San Diego Day 2 - Organic Day with Mother Earth's Living Creatures

We started our Sunday morning heading to the La Jolla Farmer's Market, just 15km north of downtown San Diego. While it sounds far to go just for a farm market, the commute took only about 15 minutes as the drive was mainly via the highway.

Jen's main reason to go to this market was to check out the Cravory a company started by three young men who baked some really yummy cookies. How good you say? These are the "Chanel" of cookies and were good enough to be part of the Emmy Gifting Suites for the celebs. We tried Red Velvet, Peanut Butter Overload and Banana Cream Pie. These amazing cookies are the best that Jen has ever had. Soft, chewy, yet dense and rich with flavor. After going the Portland Farmer's Market we enjoy visiting Farmer's Markets to get a sense of the community and to hang out with the locals.

We also ate mango and breakfast pita. There was this stand that sold fresh mango and/or papaya cups and they add chili powder, seasalt and lemon. This stand was a cash cow!

J&J tidbit: Cravory does not have a storefront at this time of posting. They primarily sell online, but also sells at the Sunday La Jolla Farmer's Market. They can customize 950 types of cookies.

It was then off to the San Diego Zoo, in historical Balboa Park. Not only does this large park house the zoo it also has many museums.

When I was young, I always enjoyed visiting the zoo and seeing all its animals.

But now that I'm older, will the feeling be the same? I'm not sure about enclosing animals in a small, enclosed space would be fun for an animal. But then I guess the Zoo advocates the educational aspects, and is helping endangered species.

We first rode the double-decker bus which is a 35 minute tour ride that takes you throughout the different areas of the zoo.

We rode the Skyfari which is a 'gondola-like' ride that takes you from the south end of the park to the north side.

We visited the polar bears first. The bear in the enclosed tank was quite playful.

We stumbled upon a hidden gem of an exhibit where there was no lineup. It was located around the corner from the main Giant Panda Research Center where there was a half an hour lineup where they corral you quickly through the panda viewing. It appeared to be the exit of the main center. Found out it was only usually open to the volunteers but was open to the public for a temporary period. It housed Panda Bear Zhen Zhen. We admired her for 20 minutes with only a handful others. She put on a show for us as you can see from the photos.

These bears makes you feel so warm and fuzzy and make all your worries go away. We then lined up for half an hour to visit the rest of her family.

One can spend the entire day at the zoo. We were there over 6 hours and these other animals were also the highlights.

J&J tidbit: Though the SD Zoo is the most famous it is not the biggest in the world. The zoo in Berlin can boast for having the most species of wildlife and the zoo in Australia for being the largest.

For dinner we headed to a Vietnamese restaurant called Phuong Trang. The food is comparable to Pnom Penh but the menu is more diverse and the restaurant is double in size and yet still extremely busy. We found deep fried garlic butter chicken wings that were comparable to Pnom Penh. Though it didn't come with the sauce we made it ourselves with the juice from the extra limes we had from the Pho, white pepper and salt. I think we discovered the secret sauce!