Day 43 – Saturday, 18 May 2013 – San Diego 4

All too soon the holiday will be at an end. In the meantime we would enjoy every minute we had left.

We breakfasted at the Blue Pearl – same old, same old….. and checked in at Reception to confirm that we would be on the 12 noon shuttle to the airport tomorrow for our flight to Los Angeles with American Eagle as part of the Qantas Air Star Alliance. Don warned us that it was a very small section about a mile away from the major part of the airport so be prepared with some food. He mentioned that up to a few months ago they didn’t even serve meals in the area, but this is slowly changing.

Our flight out to Los Angeles is not until tomorrow evening, but it is not worth our while to extend our check-out time for later in the afternoon, and there is a possibility that we can get an earlier flight to LA and settle down there for the wait. Our flight to Melbourne does not leave LAX until 11:25pm, but we like travelling in the night time as we find it helps us adjust our internal clocks better once we get home.

Anyway, having made or shuttle booking and been informed about the airport we settled outside the Reception area to wait for the Trolley Bus complementary shuttle to take us to Old Town once again. We would board the first trolley bus to leave and would have to stay on board until we get to Stop 10 which is Balboa Park. It lets us experience a different driver and also we hear some of the same information about areas we have previously visited on the bus so lets it percolate better in the brain pan – or so I think!

Smitty was again the driver from the Dana to Old Town but our new driver there was BW. His name was Brian William, and he had used a variety of alternatives on that but more and more of the drivers were Brians or Williams so he decided it was easier to answer to BW.

We had an unusually lovely morning with the sun shining already, but the wind did have a bite to it. It took about an hour and a half to go past all stops before we arrived at Balboa Park where we intended to stay for the entire day until we needed to board the trolley bus back to Old Town at 3:25pm.

Balboa Park is vast. It was originally set up as a short term area for an Expo to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal, and was still running in various guises many years after that. When it was decided that the buildings badly needed to be renovated and/or repaired the council determined that as it was a unique composition of architectural styles and history it would be better to re-build exactly as had originally been done.

It is a very picturesque sight. To give you some idea of the extent of interest we took 645 photos between us for the day at Balboa Park. There are acres of gardens dedicated to a particular plant or country as well as a Botanical Garden building, along with extensive water areas and museums. The place is packed during the week and then the locals arrive alongside the tourists on the weekend. Many of the places are open free of charge, and a minimal amount is charged at some other areas.

It is also where you can find the San Diego Zoo and the Miniature Train Ride for the kids. San Diego Zoo is world famous and is located in one of the canyons that abounds the acreage. We did not visit this but we did take a gander at the train ride.

The Cactus Garden, the Rose Garden, the Alcazar Garden (designed and donated by Spain) along with the Palm Garden are just a few of the things located at Balboa Park. There is a theatre called The Globe where many plays are performed, many different museums dedicated to particular items, and the Pipe Organ which is humungous.

The building extends in a semi-circle with the actual organ pipes located in the central chamber. Although the amphitheatre is open to the sky the organ can be closed to protect it from the elements. The organ music can be heard throughout the park when it is played. On Sunday afternoons they have recitals which are open to any member of the public. We were very lucky to have a local understanding day take place while we were there and the Professor was explaining how the organ was made and how it is preserved.

We spent a lot of time in the Botanic Garden building because of the display of orchids. We took photos of the Lily Ponds and the golden poi that live in it. We ventured into museums and into gardens. We made sure we got some water to drink, enjoyed an ice-cream when it was fairly hot at lunchtime, and had a banana and yoghurt for lunch itself. We walked for miles and miles and loved every minute of it.

You could go to Balboa Park every day of the week and still have things that you hadn’t managed to see or do. It is a marvellous experience.

We were plum tuckered out by about 2:30pm so we took to the park area that had some shady trees and stopped for a while. We were there waiting when the Trolley Bus arrived at 3:25pm and boarded it for our journey back to Old Town.

Unfortunately our new driver was called Vidal and I was not impressed with him. He spent so much time at each stop telling us about how great he was at magic and demonstrating magic tricks that he could not do his job of guide properly. He did not get a tip when we got back to Old Town.

Our trolley bus was waiting for us and we were lucky to be the first guests to be dropped off for the afternoon. Captain Bob was our driver and he was good.

Russ did his meditation when we got back to our room and I took the opportunity of downloading our many photos, batch converting them and putting titles to the best ones so they could be uploaded after dinner. We had our meal at the Blue Pearl – Russ went back to his steak and I tried the Philly Cheesesteak minus the onions. This is served on a hoagie (sourdough bun) with cheese melted all over the roast beef strips and mushrooms. Needless to say it was too big for me and I had to leave quite a lot. My cup of tea was lovely. American wait staff just can’t seem to comprehend that hot water should be poured over the tea bag, not add the tea bag to the pot of hot water once it arrives at the table.

We intended to have a sleep in tomorrow morning so as to be able to manage the extra-long day we would experience once we left the hotel.