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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Playing Tourist in San Diego - Downtown and Old Town

This is the third installation of sight-seeing in San Diego. The other two posts are here and here.
One of the many perks of living near the coast is being able to ride the Coaster downtown, turning an often stressful drive on the highway to a tranquil cruise on the train. The travel time is about the same, too, and you can BYOB so it's definitely worth it. And if you're traveling with a large party (say, eight family members) it's ideal because you can avoid the hassle of coordinating two cars. Oh public transportation, why can't you be this convenient everywhere?
The destination for us that morning was the last southbound stop the Coaster makes - downtown San Diego. We strolled along The Embarcadero up to Seaport Village, stopping often to take photos, to check out the vendors sprawled along the walkway, and to look at the boats. It was warm and sunny - happy weather - and it reflected in our moods.
There's no doubt that the stress-free commute also added to the easy-going feel of the outing. Not having to deal with road rage, or traffic, or parking was so nice - the Coaster is the best way to travel downtown from coastal North County.
For lunch we walked over to my favorite downtown neighborhood - Little Italy. When I first moved to San Diego a year and a half ago Chris and I spent many weekends in Little Italy at one of our friend's condos. It's since been rented out so we don't go down nearly as much as we used to but I hold a warm place in my heart for the colorful, clean, friendly area.
Lunch was at a small, corner pizzeria called Napizza, which serves traditional Italian-style rectangular pizzas - several of which are vegan. I ordered a combo called the Happy Wine Belly that came with a large slice of pizza (I chose the vegan Parmigiana), soup or salad (I ordered carrot soup), and a generous glass of wine. The meal tasted fresh, the service was great, the prices were reasonable, and there were happy bellies all around.
Apparently we enjoyed our lunch a little longer than we should have because we ended up having to run, on full stomachs, to catch the northbound Coaster to Old Town. But we made it, we're good sports.
Old Town is a popular tourist destination because it's a representation of what life was like in San Diego in the 1800s while Mexicans and then early American settlers lived there  (and fairly resembles what life is still like in many countries, like Honduras, but that's a whole different post). There are several historic buildings, including five original adobe buildings from when the area was a Mexican Pueblo, an early jailhouse, and California's first public school. Many buildings have been reconstructed to look like originals, as well, and there are many shops where you can buy goods from "long ago" - like candles, candy, and cigars.
There are also many modern establishments that cater to the consumer in us, like restaurants, gift shops, and coffee shops, so spending hours in Old Town is easy to do.
We ended the trip to Old Town with wine tasting, which, along with watching the sunset as mentioned in a previous post, is another fantastic way to culminate any family outing. Then we relaxed on the train all the way back home. 
Hope everyone's having a great week so far, happy Wednesday!


1 comment:

Chris said...

I love the coaster. No one uses it around here as much as they should. I love the passing views of the coast as it really calms the mind. It saves so much time in fact -- our most important resource. Keep the posts coming!

Chris