USA Tour: Day 1 – El Segundo to San Diego (20/06/12)

We had drinks and dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. It was a really interesting place with a fair amount of locals (which is strange for a hotel really) and with weekly dance classes. Whilst we were eating (in the dark as the area was very badly lit), some people were taking dance lessons (ballroom style) in the centre of the restaurant. Still it was very nice to catch up with all my future fellow travellers and get to know them a bit.

Western USA BLT Trekkers @ The Grand Canyon, June 2012
Top row: Stephan (The Netherlands)
Middle row (left to right): James (England); Heather (Sctoland), Simon (Germany), Achim (Germany), Melissa (Scotland), Eleanor (NZ), Rachel (England), Lisa (NZ), Me (France via London)
Front row: Pam (Australia), Natasha (England)
(Ages varied from 21 to 38 and apparently even Mel – guide – was amazed how we all got on together…of course there were mini groups with more affinities within be overall, there hasn’t been any drama

We were set to all meet at 7.30am in the hotel lobby by our tour guide. She had left instructions on the notice board and wanted us on time…We were all there waiting, introducing ourselves to each other (those who weren’t there the night before at least) when she strolled in…30 mins late, seeping on on Starbuck frappuccino, Raybans on, straightened hair and long skirt on…She was definitely not what I expected a tour guide to look like! And then she opened her mouth and sounded so New York, it was like being in the movies!

After all the formalities of signing in, giving insurance details and signing off responsibility, we packed up the trailer and set off in the van that was going to be our “home” for the next 2 weeks. First stop, San Diego.

Now, I don’t know much about San Diego and I haven’t done any research on it so I had no expectation about it. I just knew it had a famous Zoo and that’s pretty much it.

It took us about 3 hours to get there, with a quick pit stop for breakfast. We got into town to drop off the trailer briefly and then we were on the road again. This time, we were heading out to Old Town San Diego for a spot of lunch and to see one of the old pioneer town.

First american lunch at Coyote y Cantina, Old Town (San Diego) – I had been told that the portions were out of this world and I did give it a good try but I failed to finish my delicious chicken chimichanga.

After lunch, we took a walk in town – there isn’t much to see to be fair, except for a few tourist shops and some reconstructed pioneer village

We only wandered around for an hour or so and the one thing I remember vividly is how hot it was there, which after weeks of cold, miserable and wet weather in the UK was welcome.

After Old Town, we headed to our hostel (USA Hostel), located in the middle of Gaslamp district. This was one of the few hostels we were going to stay. Most of our trip was going to be in motels. The hostel itself is really cute and the decor is quite funky. We had to split randomly into 3 mixed rooms, which gave us the opportunity to get to know each other a little better in a smaller group setting. Actually, I ended up hanging out with the guys (and girls) from that room a lot more than with others…not sure if it was because it was the first night or just because I got lucky to be with people I had more affinities with from the start…

USA Hostel, Gaslamp district, entrance hallway.

After we got our things in our rooms and put on our swim suits, we headed back out to Coronado Island to sun ourselves and for the first chance to take a dip in the Pacific ocean.

Mr Piggy

Mr Piggy’s first outing on Coronado Island. He was quite a hit. At first, my travel mates were a little taken aback. After all, they had only just met me and they probably thought I was a tad cuckoo… but by the end of the trip, everybody would ask me if Mr Piggy got his picture taken.

I liked Coronado Island. It was nice and clean, what I expected of a Californian beach with Baywatch style lifeguards’ towers (see below)

It was also my first opportunity for a bit a artsy photography

However, only a few brave ones went to taste the water. The Pacific is surprisingly cold and I chickened out. I bet Melissa regretted going in considering she had forgotten her towel and she spent the rest of our time on the beach shivering uncontrollably, poor thing.

After a couple hours on the beach, we went back to the hostels for some showers and the chance to explore the city a little before we were due to meet up for dinner.

I had a couple things I wanted to buy, like a baseball cap as I hadn’t taken a hat with me and some sunscreen as I had to borrow some. There wasn’t many places you could shop around there. Lots of bars and restaurants in Gaslamp but unless you want to go into the big shopping centre, not many other options.

I was well excited with my cap as it spells my initial and practically lived in it as the sun was really strong out there.

After shopping and shower, I was ready to have a drink and found out that the 2 other girls from my room, Scottish girls who were travelling together, were up to join me. We didn’t go very far as we only had about an hour before dinner time, so we went to Whisky Girl which is literally at the bottom of our hostels.

Things got really funny quite quick there as I somehow caught the attention of a very drunk Canadian naval guy (not up with my naval terminology) who just decided to sit down next to me and kept hooking me by the neck. Heather and Melissa were literally in tears just watching me trying to keep him at a distance but still stay friendly (you never know). I didn’t realise that San Diego was such a big naval town but I guess with 2 naval academy/bases around, you are bound to bump into some navy boys…didn’t expect to meet some from Canada though 🙂

Me and a very drunk Canadian Navy boy named Andrew (I think!) @ Whisky Girl, San Diego.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankfully time to meet the rest of the group for dinner had arrived and left the Canadians blokes continue their rampage. It didn’t take them long to find new willing female companions I can tell you!

We had dinner at a place called Sloppy Joe, which is half Italian half American, at least according to their menu or it was seriously confused. Place was a walking distance from our hostel. Dinner was nice but the early start of the day was starting to show. However, as it was our first proper night out, we weren’t going to head home so soon. Melissa (our tour guide, not the Scottish lass) had a place for us to go drinking and dancing to start….and we ended up at the Whisky Girl! It was quite amusing really, although our Canadian friends had disappeared…

So we ended up back at the Whisky Girl (on 5th/G St –  for those interested). We were meant to stay there for only the one drink and then move on to the next bar but in the end, we stayed as we ended up having a good old time. Shortly after we arrived they started to remove the tables and the DJ started playing some tunes and before long we were all dancing (some more successfully than others!). We got some interesting chat up lines, like “Hi, I have a room. Do you want to get out of here?”. I am not sure if the line works generally but it really gave us a good giggle and something to talk about for the whole of the trip.

As it stands, I danced my little booty off until not so much of the small hours, but it was close to 2am when we all decided to head back up. Our rooms were right on the street with no double glazing so I was quite happy that I don’t travel without my silicon ear plugs and my eye mask these days. I had a good night sleep which more than I can say for the rest of the room.

Few weeks have gone now since I have been back and this first night is still the best I had all the whole trip (with our last night in Santa Barbara coming second).

Next chapter: Day 2 – San Diego….Mission Beach

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