Sunday, August 20, 2006

Weekend in San Diego

One of the better things about living in California is the relative closeness of major parts of the West Coast. When I lived in Boston, I never thought of heading to Florida for the weekend, or even Virginia; out here, heading to Southern California is a 1 hour flight. Heck, I've even flown to LA for a speech in the morning, and been back for lunch in San Francisco!

This weekend, my Dad (Lou) and stepmother (Fenna) were in San Diego. Fenna had a conference there all week, so my Dad opted to come out and join her for a few days of R&R. A few months ago, we had thought this sounded great, so we arranged to meet them there. After all, how often do you get to see great people who you are related to, in a nice place?

Anyway, on Thursday, we headed to Oakland Airport. We left the car with Expresso Parking: they are an outfit that has really tried to take off-airport parking to another level. They offer Outdoor parking for about $8; Indoor parking for about $10, and Valet Indoor parking for $12. They provide free coffee, muffins, water, and even the day's newspaper. Valet parking? They'll even arrange to have your car washed for a small fee. With AAA discounts and coupons from their feedback site, it's a deal. A short shuttle ride, then on to Southwest Air for the 1 hr flight to San Diego.

San Diego is a strange mix of a city. You’re 20 miles from Mexico, but the city's population is remarkably non-Latino. It's the perfect climate: sunny, warm, with nice breezes, so it's very laid back, but yet it's a military town, so there's constant roaring of planes and helicopters. The airport is right in the middle of the city, on the water: you land, and you are 1 block from major tourist attractions. Easy to get around in, but hard to get used to.

We opted to stay in a B&B, instead of one of San Diego's plentiful hotels. Fenna had been there the whole week in one, and really needed a change of scenery. We had been to SD before, and stayed at a B&B: while we enjoyed their hospitality and food, the rooms were just OK. This time, we were determined to do better. We found the Balboa Park Inn, right in San Diego, on the edge of Balboa Park and 10 minutes walk from the San Diego Zoo. Location was not what drew us; it was the rooms: each one is unique, and done in a theme. We stayed in the Orient Express, which was fabulous; Dad and Fenna stayed in the Suite Cycles, which has a full kitchen, living room, and bedroom.

When we checked in, the front desk attendant cheerfully told me that my "Pop was upstairs," a peculiar but fun moment. We headed up, got all settled, and figured out we were directly across the hall from each other! Too funny. We decided to head out to grab some food and San Diego scenery.

First stop, Coronado Island.

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