Monday, 23 June 2014

San Diego, California - we want to live there!

I recently took my children on a research trip to San Diego, California. I wanted to part-set my new novel (called Now is our Time and releasing in September 2014) in the US and I picked San Diego because it's one of those places which when people visit, they come back and rave about. Was their raving justified?? Heck, yes!! We all fell in love with San Diego. There is just so much to do there. The tourist board boasts that it has seventy miles of golden coastline, and it really does. We didn't check out all seventy miles of it, but we did check out Mission Beach - where scenes from Top Gun were filmed! First we cycled along the boardwalk:
This was a lot of fun and the cycle trail winds for miles along the coast and is a great place to watch surfers crash and burn in the foam - or to successfully ride the waves! Sorry, I'm not a surfer, so I don't know the jargon. But my children did try their hand at body-surfing later on that day and absolutely loved it!
As you can see, Mum didn't bother to get wet, but preferred to watch them from a horizontal position as she lay in the sand in the sun! But they couldn't get enough..........
and I really couldn't get them out of the water. 
There's the cafe nearby where Tom Cruise chatted up Kelly McGillis in Top Gun. And also, Baywatch was apparently filmed on Mission really is California at its finest. We were at a hotel called the Bahia Resort which is also conveniently close to SeaWorld. 
Later in our stay we relocated to Del Mar, which is a seaside resort north of San Diego, which was fabulous and chi chi and also has fabulous beaches. I love a long beach walk, and often my children whine as they accompany me, but here there was lots to keep them amused - from trying to dodge the waves in little coves as the tide came in, to finding seaweed on the beach which resembled microphones: 
A rock star in the making!
There's so much to do in and around San Diego, that is, when you're not chilling out on the beach or by a pool. There's the world famous zoo:
The giant black and white pandas are a star attraction, but we loved the koalas and polar bears even more! The site is vast, so a bit of downtime is always in order: 
And the zoo's sister park, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, set about 40 minutes inland (a hire car is essential for getting around) was even better. Animals roam free here, as they would on the plains in Asia and Africa, plus there is a massive zip line there for adrenaline junkies. It was too windy for the zip line to operate the day we were there, but there was this amazing jungle high ropes course which the children absolutely LOVED!! This isn't a great picture, but it gives the idea: 
And whilst we were there, we saw a temporary butterfly exhibition (my youngest daughter is crazy about butterflies). Their colouring was extraordinary and some of them even landed on us. See if you can spot them!

We also stayed for a while on Coronado Island (which isn't a real island, but just looks that way because a 2 mile long bridge attaches it to the mainland) and that was a fun place to stay. There's an amazing hotel there called the Hotel Del Coronado - we didn't stay there because it was too expensive, but we went to visit and had an amazing dinner at one of its many restaurants called Sheerwater. Anyway, the hotel building itself is extraordinary. It's got all these red fairytale turrets and is apparently what inspired the author of the Wizard of Oz to create the Emerald City. The film Some Like it Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, was also filmed here......
As I'm writing this, I'm wishing I was back in San Diego. Yes, I love London, but there's a way of living, an easy, outdoor lifestyle about California, which we just couldn't get enough of. Oh well, I'll just have to start saving up for the next trip. If only the long haul flights weren't so expensive!!
Hope you enjoyed this and happy travelling!

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