Sensational San Diego
San Diego, California
California, is a big city but feels more like a cluster of separate communities
- each with its own strong identity. Perhaps the thread which links the diverse
aspects of this magical city is the ocean. San Diego owes its perfect weather,
warm sunshine and low humidity to high pressure systems from the North Pacific
Ocean. The sea breezes help to moderate the summer heat and take the chill off
the winter temperature as well as dispersing the air pollution that besets so
many other US cities.
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century San Diego bet its
future on providing the coastal terminus for a rail link to the eastern states.
Although the link was completed in 1885 it proved unsuccessful, partly because
every year winter storms destroyed a section of track that ran through the
Temecula Canyon. But San Diego bounced back. Roosevelt's Great White Fleet
toured the world in 1908 to show off US naval might. They stopped by San Diego
and were so impressed by the city's harbor and favorable weather that it was
decided to build a destroyer base on the Bay. This was the start of a
relationship with the military and its associated enterprises which flourishes
to this day and continues to bring trade and jobs to the area.
San Diego has so much to offer the cruiser that your main
problem is going to making it back to the boat in time for re-embarkation. In a
brief stop off you just won't have time to do more that sample a tiny fraction
of the attractions. Don't run yourself ragged and wind up sore-footed and
unable to remember anything. Be smart and choose just one facet of the city to
explore. That way you'll have time to enjoy your day ashore – this isn’t a city
to be skimped.
San Diego's Zoo is deservedly famous. Close to four thousand
animals of some eight hundred species roam expertly crafted habitats that
include many rare plants and flowers. The zoo is best appreciated on foot.
Walkways pass over bridges, alongside waterfalls, through spectacular foliage
and let you get up close and personal with many of the animals.
If you're a history and culture fan you'll want to spend your
time in the Old Town and Gaslamp Quarter. This is where the city's Spanish and
Mexican heritage is most evident. Free daily tours of Old Town start at 11am
and 2pm from Seeley Stable and this is a great way to explore. The Old Town San
Diego State Historic Park is the heart of the Old Town and lies on the site of
the original pueblo that was the city’s seed. You should also check out the
Bazaar del Mundo, built in the style of a Mexican square. The central courtyard
is a cascade of colour with magenta bougainvillea and scarlet hibiscus. If
you're lucky there'll be a display of flamenco dancing. If you want to stretch
your legs you could walk up to the summit of Presidio Park - it'll take about a
half an hour and you'll get a look at the town's oldest adobe, constructed in
1820 - it's been incorporated into the Presidio Hills Golf Club clubhouse!
San Diego's beaches are one of its greatest natural attractions.
The most popular is Mission Beach – it’s usually busy with runners, volleyball
players, skaters, cyclists, swimmers and surfers. This is a great place to
sample jet skiing, surfing, waterskiing or sailboarding. You'll be able to hire
equipment and arrange a two hour lesson or beginner's session with no
difficulty. If you're fed up of the water, then rollerblades, skates and bikes
can also be rented. Further north there are some beautiful beaches around La
Jolla: you can watch the sea lions from Shell Beach, a small cove accessed by
stairs. Windansea Beach has an underwater reef produces some world class waves
for surfers to enjoy. The incredible views and secluded nooks amid the
sandstone rocks make this a great place to find a little peace and quiet.
You'll want to enjoy a meal in one of San Diego's restaurants
while you're ashore. The cuisines of Latin America, Asia, Japan and France are
all well-represented but the city seems to have a particular affinity with
Italian food - just stroll down Fifth Avenue and find somewhere that takes your
Back on board you’ll probably find that you wished you’d had
more time in this most vibrant and alive of American cities – dropping in as
part of a cruise is a great way of getting a taste for San Diego. But you can
guarantee that having visited, one day you’ll be coming back for more!