So we have finally recovered form jet lag and from the miles we covered in our epic road trip holiday. I have had a few people ask us some of the ins and and of our trip so thought a blog post would be the best place. I’m going to do it over a few posts, too much information for one.
Now I have to remember the details! We travelled for just over two weeks from San Diego to San Francisco, we ranted an SUV and stopped in six different hotels. We decided to go with pretty nice hotels as this was a special holiday for various reasons….and thank goodness we went through a travel company as the Flight Centre saved our holiday….
We almost didn’t get to go on holiday, after months of planning we arrived at Heathrow airport with plenty of time to avoid any stresses. We ended up in the great British Airways fiasco. See the news? Yes someone unplugged the whole IT system meaning flights were “delayed”, or after an entire day sat in a queue on Heathrow floor…were totally cancelled! Try explaining that to a four year old who had been part of the whole planning process!! I don’t have the energy to explain what a disaster zone it was, how utterly useless the staff of BA were, the way they abondonned the airport…despite standing on the news saying the opposite.
Anyway, my husband is truly amazing, and as I crumpled into misery that this year is turning into some sort of horror movie, and trying to console a distraught daughter, my husband spent hours on the phone seeing what could happen.
Another day later, two extra flights and we made it to San Diego! Horrah.
We stayed on Mission Bay and the San Diego Bahia Resort. I have to say right now, the staff were amazing here and so friendly. We lost a whole day in San Diego and we were totally exhausted from the very extended travelling time.
We had pre-booked tickets to San Diego zoo, which thankfully had an open date on, but we had no choice but to go on our first day, having arrived late the night before *gulp*.
What a zoo….if you go to San Diego you must visit this zoo-but find food to take with you, the food was as expected over priced and not amazing.
It is huge, and is about to open a brand new area too. There are numerous buses and ways of getting round but it is walkable, if rather hilly. I had read many blogs about the zoo and the queues for the pandas so we were prepared…however we visited the pandas twice and never queued. The zoo is full of volunteers who are clearly passionate and super helpful. Amelie loved the way they took time to talk to her (and stamp her arm with different animals stamp!)
My tips for the zoo…look at the map thoroughly and plan your route carefully to avoid walking too much. Some of the buses are pretty pointless if you want to actually see the animals. Make time to speak to the volunteers, they are fab. Take a pushchair for jet lagged four year olds…even if you never use one at home, it’s big, hilly and can get warm! It won’t do any harm.
It was pretty cool for Southern California on our trip, but this meant there were lots of playful, awake animals. Our favourites…the pandas, koalas, polar bears and hippos….oh and don’t miss the dog in with the cheetahs!
It’s an expensive zoo…but totally worth the money.
The zoo is set in Balboa Park, full of museums and stunning architecture, we took a stroll around it after the zoo. We had hoped there would be cafes and restaurants for dinner but nothing! This amazes me, it looks the perfect spot but hopeless for a post-zoo dinner!
That evening we found a diner to eat at, in our hugely tired, jet lagged desperation we just randomly picked a restaurant off a list our hotel gave us and ended up at Corvette Diner…we had no idea what to expect! Imagine full on US diner, with a car inside, neon lights, a DJ, singing and dancing waitresses, straws being thrown everywhere, a “balloon dude” and waitresses who tie up your four year olds hair in a Mohawk with straws….yup drinking straws! Amelie thought this place was AMAZING. It was a bit of an assault on your senses, but we think our introverted Britishness made it all the more crazy and funny.
Our next day we left San Diego, too soon, but we lost a day thanks to BA. Our hotel had offered a free paddle ship cruise around the bay but sadly we missed out on that.
We headed to the Gas Lamp quarter for breakfast and found a cool cafe for pancakes before heading to La Jolla, a place lots of people had recommended to us. Famous for sea lions…and we found them on the beach, all smelly and noisy. In fact looking through photos of Amelie paddling (paddling in the Pacific Ocean was on a her wish list!) on another bay we noticed a seal lion photo bombing all the photos! La Jolla had a great feeling about it, we just didn’t see the sun…June Gloom.
We found an amazing place for lunch as I was desperate for my taco fix (on my wish list), Puesto. Oh my, those tacos were insanely delicious! Go find it if you’re there! Make sure you have three tacos over two…I had two and wished I had gone for three!
From La Jolla we drove on to our next destination…Newport Beach. Driving in the US is different, firstly there are points with 9 driving lanes…yes 9! And there doesn’t seem to be a logic as to which lane you should drive in. They are also less polite and letting you move across lanes when you realise you need to cross 9 lanes for your exit. Take a sat nav, we paid for the upgrade on our own and took it as it’s cheaper than hiring one from the car hire (on that note we bought a cheaper car seat for Amelie and took that too, far cheaper than the hire and free on the plane.)
We stayed at the Marriott Newport Beach, and we had four nights there. Beautiful rooms, wonderful staff but not that close to the beach and all rooms over look the air conditioning units on the roofs so quite noisy.
More on what we did at Newport in the next post…as that was a super busy few days for us. We just wished we had longer in San Diego and more favourable weather.
(Photos- panda at San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, and sea lion at La Jolla, Corvette Diner and Puesto La Jolla)