What can I say about San Diego? Guy and I are totally puzzled -- what do people love about this city? We simply cannot find anything to like about it. It's overpriced; it's architecturally unappealing; there's nothing to do (how many times can you visit the zoo; we have no grandkids to take to Sea World, and I am not taking the granddog; the Gas Lamp District is boring, as are all the other tourist traps like Old Towne); downtown is dreary; did I mention there are too many tourist traps? We only go because our son is there. The city must have sensed our dislike and decided to repay us; our last 3 days were filled with rain and wind.
Hotels: We initially stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Downtown, an old hotel, newly renovated. This hotel gives you a good bang for your buck. A free breakfast that includes eggs, bacon and sausage with all the trimmings is part of the deal and the staff goes out of its way to accommodate your every request. If you want to tour the Gas Lamp District, this hotel is a good choice. You can walk from there, because you're not dealing with highways, just city streets. According to my son, the city has cleaned up the area so it's safe to walk now, but I wouldn't walk it at night. And you had better have really good walking legs to walk from this hotel to the Gas Lamp District, because it's hilly, and it's a good long walk. We stayed at the Holiday 3 nights, then stayed at the Doubletree Club on Hotel Circle for the other two nights. Hotel Circle is a good location because it's near the Zoo, Sea World and the Fashion Valley Mall. The Doubletree Club was built in 2001 and just recently renovated. It's more spacious than the Holiday Inn Express Downtown, and the staff is very nice. Here's the big shock: Almost all the hotels in San Diego charge for parking. So if you're paying $125/night for the hotel and $14 for parking, you're really paying $139/night. I guess this is their sneaky way of upping their prices, because when they separate it like that, psychologically you think you are paying the lower price. And there seems to be some collusion, because they all charge $14/night for parking. They must have had lunch together and jointly decided that $14 was the right price to charge. I hate San Diego.
This time Jim took us to all the places the tourists don't know about. We ate at Phil's Barbecue, a really nice barbecue joint, super clean with good food. Instead of an iceberg lettuce salad, Phil's serves a Spring Mix salad. Still, Phil's prices are twice as high as our best barbecue joint in New Bern.
The Supper Club is the locals' answer to the Strip Joint in the Gaslamp District, where you cook your own steak. (P. S. I thought Rachel Ray ate where the locals eat. She recently did a show on San Diego and she ate at the Strip Joint.) The Supper Club is half the price of the Strip Joint. $15.95 for a filet mignon, garlic bread, and salad. $5.95 more gets you a potato-vegetable kabob for two. You grill everything, not just the steak, on a communal grill where everyone is friendly and polite and the more experienced grillers help the less experienced ones. My ears rang for a good half hour after we left because the noise level was about 300 decibels.
Even though Jim and Trinh have been without heat and have only had partial electric for a month because of a fire in their apartment building, for me, the best meal of all was the night we just got a rotisserie chicken and a bag of Spring mix from Albertson's. We rented a movie (Gosford Park) and watched it at Jim's apartment while we ate. It was most like home. And speaking of home, I'm glad I'm back eating my own cooking and sleeping in my own bed. We really enjoyed being away, seeing our son, meeting his significant other and trying to enjoy a city we very much dislike, but like Dorothy said, "There's no place like home." Happily, the next time we see our son, it will be on our own turf; and we won't have to go back to San Diego for at least another year.