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Simon’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Location: San Diego, California, USA

MapThere’s a local train service called The Coaster that links several of the smaller coastal towns with Downtown SD and, with the sun cautiously reaching for his hat and just enough blue sky to make a Dutchman a pair of trousers, I caught the 10:38 from Carlsbad, which duly arrived in SD an hour later.

T’wife had told me of a nightmare journey she’s had from Harrogate back to Bath, courtesy of the UK’s own failing rail system (it took her 14 hours to get home...), my trip was great and totally on time too. One female passenger sat behind me was having one of those overly loud “I’m on the Coaster! No, the COASTER!!” mobile phone conversations that inevitably wound towards her love-life. “He just calls me then doesn’t show up. What a jerk!”. Shaadup!

As an accomplished finger-map-traveller in my childhood, I’d been wanting to visit San Diego for many years: it’s right in the bottom left-hand corner of the US, y’see, and until I found New Zealand elsewhere in the atlas, I couldn’t imagine anywhere else further from home. Well, made sense to me!

I made for Horton Plaza, a cavernous shopping mall that proved as difficult to get out of as a lobster pot. As an example of how mad it was in there, some Israeli girl tried to sell me (ME!) a nail-polishing kit from her stall, and was well miffed that she didn’t get her $11, even after she’d shined and smoothed one of my bitten exhibits.

I grabbed some Japanese grub from one of the many outlets in the food court, and then managed to get myself a San Diego Chargers top (that had been on my shopping list) and a Sony PSP (that wasn’t...oh well.). It’s all open to the elements and I did have to keep popping in and out of shops to take advantage of the air-con inside. “Can I help you, sir?” No thanks, just sweating quietly...

I bought some socks from Macy’s (I totally rock, don’t I?!) and was quickly hounded out of ‘Just Lids’, an overly pompous baseball cap shop that was full of small wannabe gangstas (known as Rampies in Birmingham and tw*ts everywhere else!).

I had a quick traipse to the Gaslamp District, but found it to be a tad seedy (there was a street jazz festival taking place too: $48 entry! Ha!), so instead went down to the harbour. As today was the start of Memorial Day weekend (it’s like our Remembrance Sunday) the two ships in dock – the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Midway – were decked out in all their Stars ‘N Stripes glory. There was also a huge sculpture of a navy guy snogging his girl that towered thirty feet above my head, but the Midway was truly awe-inspiring. It’s an aircraft carrier that acts as a sort of floating museum and even my overly active use of adjectives can’t capture its immense nature: t’was a big ‘un!

I loved San Diego almost as much as San Fran, and, in the words of the Governor: I’ll be back.