So it’s Sunday morning in beautiful San Diego, I’m sitting in an awesome bagel shop called Brooklyn’s Finest eating a cheddar jalapeno bagel with cream cheese whilst sipping on a cafe latte. I know I said I’d try to post more frequently but I never knew what San Diego had in store for me.
I must admit, after leaving LA I started to experience the inevitable doubts about the world tour I had planned. I guess it was the lack of any serious connection with anyone there or even the city itself. It’s a big city, everyone is doing something or going somewhere and if you don’t exert yourself you get left behind. Well, I learnt that first hand. Sure I met nice people in my hostel and a few people during my travels but nothing I would really place any serious significance on. And to be completely honest, that is pretty much all my doing as I was slow adjusting to the whole solo travel scene and not forcing out some of the extrovert personality that I know is in there somewhere.
Having travelled solo a few times before on a smaller scale I was mentally prepared for what can be a really self-challenging and solitary experience. I’m actually glad this emerged earlier than expected as this is exactly what I want to personally develop as part of my solo world tour.
Almost immediately upon leaving LA my circumstances shifted and it’s amazing how one’s outlook can quickly change. I travelled back to Santa Ana to check out the Geto Boys but this time opted to use AirBnB. Well that move in itself what very smart as I met James and Phylline who have been a great influence on me to date. It was great to actually have a decent discussion with these 2 friendly characters as they showed me around Santa Ana and gave me some great local travel advice. That social connection in itself was enough to reignite my personality and recharge me for what was about to be a solo world tour changing experience in San Diego.
Arriving in San Diego I almost instantly felt the vibe upon jumping off the train. The train ride from Santa Ana to San Diego itself was a highlight as the train travels right along the coast overlooking pristine surf beaches around Oceanside. I really had no idea Southern California had such awesome beaches.
First impressions in San Diego reminded me so much of Melbourne. As I switched from my Amtrak train to a ‘trolley’ which is what San Diego calls trams – I almost felt like I was back home. The sun was blazing but not too intensely and that reminded me of Melbourne in late spring on ‘one’ of those perfect days. San Diego is a much slower pace than LA and people here actually take time out to talk which is nice. People also smile much more here as well – which is something I’m starting to do a lot more myself. I almost instantly started to feel more at home here.
Travel really takes on a new dimension these days with the emergence of social networking sites that are geared towards combining social and travel. CouchSurfing best explained in its own terms offers its users hospitality exchange and social networking services.
In order for a single guy to receive hospitality from hosts around the world, he needs to build up a social network of friends and references – for which I have none. So shortly after I arrived in San Diego, I jumped on CS and discovered a local community event called “Tipsy Tuesdays” in North Park. This in itself was a big deal for me as I was in a foreign place about to hopefully meet a bunch of locals whom I knew nothing about. As I approached the bar called Urbn, there were a number of large tables and I was not about to go ask each one if they were the CS event. So I took a seat at the bar, had a beer and chilled out for a while. A short time later, a lady approached me and asked if I knew which table was the CS event – I smiled and told her I had no idea but offered her the seat next to me whilst we both tried to find out which table it was.
About an hour later, the barman came back to us and pointed out the CS group to us. Well, that became less important by that stage as I was having a great conversation with Suzanne which continued on at least another hour. We spoke about so many topics and I was getting some incredible local advice which I would have never found on my own. It just so happens Suzanne is also a local travel guide/consultant and focuses more on the corporate market. She is also a life coach and a very self-aware person – in a short space of time I knew Suzanne had much to offer.
Since Tuesday, my whole San Diego experience took on an entirely new dimension. On Thursday, Suzanne took me bike riding around the beautiful Coronado Island which is a short ferry from San Diego downtown. On one side of the island, it faces the harbour with spectacular views of the city skyline, and on the other side it faces the Pacific Ocean with pristine coastline and a gorgeous hotel with loads of history and beautiful gardens. Coronado also has a US defence base located on the island, and it was awesome to have fighter jets flying past as at low altitude as we rode around.
I went to Pacific Beach on Thursday which reminded me so much of Surfers Paradise. It is very holiday-ish with lots of students on summer holidays and tourists/locals renting apartments on the beach. I met a guy called Chris who replied to a post I placed on CouchSurfing looking for surfing buddies. We went and hired some boards from a small surf shop called ‘Radd Rentals’ and surfed next to the pier. Later that day, I jumped on a bus and and experienced traditional American BBQ at Phils BBQ which I never knew existed in California until I spoke to Suzanne. Well after literally waiting 1.5 hours in queue to get in (mostly locals), I feasted on perfectly cooked beef ribs and breast chicken with beans and coleslaw – and was not disappointed.
Yesterday was probably the highlight of my stay in SD thus far. Suzanne was able to borrow a car from a friend of hers and took me further north to a place called La Jolla. Words really can’t describe how beautiful this place is. We started the day checking out a local farmers market in Little Italy and then did a hike along some ocean facing cliffs in La Jolla. Following that we took a stroll in the main town and I was just blown away by how beautiful the place is and the amount of wildlife that exists amongst all the people there.
I really didn’t want to leave La Jolla, but I had made plans to meet James and Phylline whom I met in Santa Ana. We went to the Padres v Dodgers game together and had a great time. I really enjoyed watching the game and seeing traditional American match entertainment, in particular the rap music they play in between plays and the break-dancing ground sweepers.
Today, I am hopefully heading back towards La Jolla once again courtesy of Suzanne. I’m going to rent a board and surf some of the coast around La Jolla and maybe further north toward Encinitas. The surf looked irresistible yesterday and Suzanne could tell I was literally dying to get into the water. A local touch makes an enormous difference and I feel really lucky to have met someone so generous to show me around and share some really fascinating conversation with.
My good friend Beth arrives back in San Diego on Monday night after her golf tour around the world. I’m so excited to see her in her home town as well!
SD signing out from San Diego for now.