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Love Letter to San Diego --- baseball trip and more

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Love Letter to San Diego --- baseball trip and more

We live in Northern California so it's not difficult to get down to San Diego for 5 days, as we did recently. But, we hadn't been for many years. The last few times we went to San Diego were on a cruise in 2008 (one day stop --- toured the Midway) and to see my sons graduate as US Marines from Boot Camp, at the MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) in the mid-90's.

We just returned home from San Diego last night and wanted to report that we had a WONDERFUL time wandering around your beautiful city and going to two baseball games as well as doing some touring in the past two days (after the ballgames were over).

Thank you San Diego. We had so much fun that we'll be back soon. The last time I stayed in San Diego for more than one night was in 1984 when I took my sons to the Zoo and Sea World. No kids with us this time. This was a different type of trip.

We two (mature adults) arrived on Friday afternoon (4/26). Our plane from OAK was chock full of SF Giants fans (probably week-end folks) but we weren't going to the game that night. We wanted to rest and explore our territory around A St. and Park/11th Ave (our home for 4 nights) whereas our "plane mates" were likely staying in a fancy hotel somewhere.

FRIDAY EVENING:

We spent Friday evening exploring the area near City College and trying to figure out where to eat that wasn't McDonald's, Burger King or Del Taco. We ended up finding a local haunt called "Albert's" on the corner of Park and C. Very good Mexican food for a great price. We had Mole Poblano (I made two meals of it) and the two super large tacos. Both dishes $7.25. Very tasty and filling.

SATURDAY MORNING:

We love to walk and started to wander from 11th and A, down to the Gaslamp, around 10:00am. We wondered ---- should we wear our Giants garb, since the game doesn't start until 5:40pm? Nope. We decided to just walk around town not looking like obtruse Giants fans since we have great respect for the local team/town, when in town as the rival team. We don't flaunt --- especially if the game is starting 6 hours later. We have other clothes to wear! ;=))

We made our way down to Fifth Avenue and went to Croce's (5th and F) which, if someone is our age and has a "bucket-list" should be on it. I remember the day Jim Croce was killed in an airplane crash as I loved his music so much (music to suit the soul), and had ALWAYS wanted to come to Croce's. We had an indescribably wonderful Saturday brunch, with nuanced delectable eggs benedict and French Toast and, after brunch, enjoyed wandering through the restaurant (both levels) looking at pictures of the memorable songwriter/singer, Jim Croce, which took me back 40 years. The experience gave me chills and for anyone of my vintage, getting to Croce's before they close at the end of this year, due to a lease dispute, is a must.

Heading toward Petco Park down Fifth after Croce's, we wandered through stores and talked to people sitting in outside dining areas and took pictures wherever we went. The Gaslamp is a treasure trove of historic buildings and colors. We went into a shop that had orange shoes, which was highly tempting for ME -- a SF Giants fan! We talked to locals wherever we went. What a friendly street. Also, Saturday (with the wonderful weather) definitely brought out the entire city to eat outside, at the various sidewalk bistros/bars/restaurants. You could spend weeks hitting them all.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON:

We needed to get "the lay of the land" to figure out where we'd be going later for the Padres/Giants game, so we wandered all over the place at the base of Fifth Ave. (where the Welcome arch is, across from the Convention Center) just chit-chatting with ---- guess who? --- Giants fans, all over the streets. We stopped for a brew and oysters and snacks at Lou & Mickey's (is that Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle??) near the trolley line where it stops at "Gaslamp Quarter", for some really expensive beer and snacks ($42 --- whew!!! --- one 22-oz beer for each of us and a few oysters and some goat cheese appy's).

At that point, we headed back to our hotel --- had to get dressed in black-and-orange. Took the bright red, efficient San Diego Trolley (green line) and then got into our Giants gear and headed back in the opposite direction --- toward Petco Park (City College station to 12th and Imperial).

SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE BALLPARK!

Wow. We were in section 133 in right field. Second row, above the chairs/tables in the Jack Daniels section. No comment on the game (an odd game, with the Giants in the lead by 5-0 and blowing it and the game going to the 12th) but if anyone wants to go to a game at that time of the evening, do not select this section. The sun was in our eyes and the loudest people I've ever heard in a ballpark in 50 years were sitting behind us. They were a combination of loud Padres and loud Giants fans.

By the 12th inning, it was very cold (freezing) and windy and my hands had frozen, even with two jackets on (I forgot to bring gloves --- who knew?). So ---- sometimes it does get cold in San Diego. The highlight of the game was The Rally Squirrel between the top and bottom of the 4th inning. Our team was ahead but that squirrel motivated the Padres to get moving and win the game. It was hilarious. There is a YouTube out there, if anyone wants to see it. The entire ballpark was laughing so hard and if the Padres could score 6 times in the 4th inning, after the Rally Squirrel motivated them? ---- good for them! Whatever works!

SUNDAY MORNING:

Took the trolley (again) --- City College station to Park and Market. The Broken Yoke Café on 6th Avenue near the ballpark is The Best Breakfast. Yes, there is a line outside but with all the Giants and Padres fans waiting outside, the staff knows we were all headed to the ballpark (very nearby) and their service/food is awesome. We got to Broken Yoke about 11:20am (game starting at 1:10pm) with a huge line outside, and they managed it well. Got in about 20 minutes later. We had Huevos Rancheros (me) and a huge Breakfast Sandwich with hashbrowns (him) for around $10 each. We were out of there in less than an hour. They also have champagne and Bloody Mary's on Sundays. Amazing place. Would go there again in a flash.

For the game, we sat in Section 110, right at the Third Base Line. Perfect place to watch the game. Some loud Giant fan (behind us) tried to ruin it for everyone but we ignored him. Some very nice Padre fans in front of us had 5 pieces of standard 8-1/2 by 11" paper, which I read in reverse (looking at the letters through the paper), saying from my right "S - W - E - E- P." Most of us read from the left so I saw that and yelled down to them....."didn't you bring your broom, since it looks like you're going to sweep us?" I was laughing. The previous Sunday, I'd seen the Giants SWEEP the Padres. The Padres fans looked back at me and said, "no, we didn't bring our brooms as we're not used to this." We all laughed and smiled. They were so sweet.

I'd like to thank ALL the Padres fans at those two games and others. They are SO polite and friendly and nobody made any deal about how many Giants fans were in their ballpark. We found out how many there were when Buster Posey hit the homerun Sunday. Half of the ballpark jumped up and cheered.

MONDAY all day:

We took the trolley and spent the entire day in Old Town. We ate and shopped and wandered through the Old Town State Historic Park and talked to the burros (giving a donation of course, as it takes $$$ to keep the burros and the original Seeley stable going). We went to the Cosmopolitan Hotel and read every historic plaque we could find.

We took a ton of pictures, of people and plants and historic buildings. We had an early lunch at Café Coyote on San Diego Ave. but generally just wandered after that. We stopped by Barra Barra (where I remember my family dined in 1996 when my son graduated from MCRD) and then spent a couple of hours at Fiesta de Reyes, which has so many cute shops and so many things to take pictures of and local people to talk to. We went into a lot of the shops (even having someone at Urban Seeds tell us about their new "sculpture" of roses and broccoli, which was starting to stink when we were there -- broccoli-wise). We spent time wine tasting at Hacienda de las Rosas, chatting with fellow tasters from New Jersey, as well as buying things at Fiesta Cocina. A fun 6+ hours, before heading back to our hotel on the trolley.

TUESDAY:

Back on the beautiful shiny red San Diego trolley --- Orange Line down to Santa Fe Station (the old railway station where the red trolley, the Coaster and Surfrider and other Amtrak lines come in and cross paths). We were awed by the old tiled Santa Fe Building. History.

From the trolley, we got off and walked to the Broadway Pier to the Coronado Ferry. From that pier, it takes off once an hour (on the hour) and returns once an hour (on the half-hour). It was another 6-1/2-hour day, on the ferry and over to Coronado and wandering all over the island and to the stunningly beautiful, historic Hotel Del Coronado ---- ahh-h-h-h. What a day. We spent quite a bit of time talking to the proprietor of the gift shop, about our history at the hotel --- since she is new.

It had been years since we'd been there. The last time I'd been there was in 1984 when I took my family there. We hadn't stayed that time....just walked the beach and checked out the hotel. The last time I'd stayed overnight in the hotel was in 1982 for a business conference.

The hotel is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Thus, in honor of that, we spent the whole day wandering it and reading the history windows and going to the "1888" Gift Shop and talking to the people who work there. Since the hotel was headed to the wrecking ball at a point, around the time I last slept there, I almost cried ---- acknowledging how historic it is and how much a part of my past it is and how much a part of the history of California it is.

For anyone who worships this structure, as I do, make sure to come honor it during the year of its 125th anniversary.

================

So, San Diego, you gave us a great ride over the last few days. We love your bright trolley system (which took us everywhere we wanted to go) and your wonderfully restored downtown area near the water (including your beautiful ballpark) and your historic buildings which you honor enough to preserve and restore.

But, mostly we loved your friendly people. Nobody looked at us funny when we were wearing our Giants colors. When we came out of the game on Sunday, hundreds of us spilled out (many of us going to The Tin Fish) and everyone honored each other. You are a very classy city and we can't wait to return. Thank you!

San Diego, CA
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1. Re: Love Letter to San Diego --- baseball trip and more

Thank you so much for this gracious trip report. I'm so happy you had such a wonderful time here.

I appreciate what you said about respecting a baseball team's home town fans. When I visit other ballparks, I approach it the same way. I don't understand the "rabid" fans who use a sporting event as an excuse to be rude and obnoxious. It's just a baseball game, for goodness sake. I'm a huge, huge fan, but I'm not going to yell at or disrespect anyone -- and especially not as a visitor in another city's ballpark! Last year, an ugly fight between a Dodger fan and Padre fan broke out a few rows down from me -- fueled by too much alcohol, of course.

Anyway ... I'm also happy that you enjoyed Croce's! That place is truly a gem, and Ingrid Croce deserves a ton of credit for being a part of the revitalization of downtown. I was a college student here in the late 1970s when the Horton Plaza area was a complete dump ... then lived in other parts of the country before returning to San Diego in 2000 ... I could not believe the remarkable transformation of downtown. It still amazes me.

As for the Hotel Del ... you are right -- its history is worth learning about for every Californian.

i'm so glad the trip brought back so many good memories for you as well as making new ones -- that's the best kind of vacation, for sure!

San Diego, CA
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2. Re: Love Letter to San Diego --- baseball trip and more

What a lovely trip report. So glad you enjoyed your stay!

Chula Vista...
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3. Re: Love Letter to San Diego --- baseball trip and more

Hi,

Great report and great that you made it to Croce's, as it's closing at the end of the year:

utsandiego.com/news/…

http://www.croces.com/blog.html

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4. Re: Love Letter to San Diego --- baseball trip and more

Thanks for the report! Which hotel did you stay at?

San Francisco...
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5. Re: Love Letter to San Diego --- baseball trip and more

You write well Marly. San Diego is cool. Looking forward to our next visit and will definitely visit AT&T park South. :-)

San Francisco...
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6. Re: Love Letter to San Diego --- baseball trip and more

We stayed at WorldMark by Wyndham (not a commercial hotel, but a vacation club that I've owned in for over 20 years) --- very nice comfortable accommodations but not available to the general public and not in a "hotel area" -- thus the lack of nearby restaurants, other than the aforementioned McD's, Jack in the Box, Burger King, etc. They have kitchens though so what we really missed was a grocery store nearby. We'll be more prepared next time.

I hear tell that when WorldMark bought and renovated the old building at 1110 A Street, about 7 or 8 years ago, the neighborhood was a bit sketchy but there are many new high rise condos now and its next to City College so not a problem walking all over the place in the daylight. Plenty of young folks in the area, from the high school and college.

Also, I see I spelled "yolk" wrong, so apologies to the Broken Yolk folks. They certainly have a successful operation going there on 6th Ave. near Petco.

Hopefully everyone knows that Ingrid Croce is opening another version of Croce's in Banker Hill, which was planned even before the lease dispute at the 5th and F Keating Hotel property ended in the building owner not renewing the lease (he evidently prefers businesses like Pussycat Dollhouse, which is under Croce's). Sad, because it sounds like the owner is encouraging the same type of businesses that were in the area before it turned around into the tourist/local dining and shopping mecca it is today, thanks to Ingrid and fellow community members/investors who had a vision.

We had a lengthy conversation with our lovely waitress at Croce's (thanks Laura) who said the new location (which originally was supposed to be a second location) will be smaller so the whole staff won't be able to move with Ingrid but a slice of Croce's will still exist, albeit not the same as the original. We're already planning to go visit them at their new location on our next trip. Hope they get a really good landlord. ;=))

mf --- wow, if you came back to San Diego in 2000, what a difference you would have seen! I loved the two HUGE wall-sized photo shots in the ballpark (1999 next to 2011) showing a complete 100% transformation from gutted and decayed to some stunning architectural accomplishments. It reminds me also of the transformation in the Mission Bay/China Basin area of San Francisco, where AT&T Park was completed in 2000. I had worked for the phone company right across the street from the current ballpark (on Berry St.) and it used to be a neighborhood of empty lots (strewn with trash and liquor bottles) and crumbling flophouses in the 70's through 90's. These major efforts in both cities (and others across the country) are truly amazing and inspiring ---- also very good for The Great American Pastime.

We will return soon (next baseball season) to enjoy your beautiful city yet again --- maybe for a week next time as 4 nights are just not enough. We were disappointed to miss some of the sights on our short list (such as Little Italy and Barrio Logan) but we'll catch them and others next time. Thanks!

Edit to my SF buddy belomiser: That's what a BA in English will do. haha. Now, now --- how would you like our friends in SD to be calling AT&T "Petco North?" Being a phone co. retiree, I always call AT&T "phone park." ;=))

Edited: 02 May 2013, 18:28
San Francisco...
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7. Re: Love Letter to San Diego --- baseball trip and more

Marly when one sees as many Giants fans in the park as Padres spectators it was the Giants announcers who coined that name. Not I. But that aside, San Diego is a great city with excellent food and beer and warm people. By the way it is the nicest ballpark in SoCal imho

Thank you for calling AT&T !!!

Edited: 02 May 2013, 18:35
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8. Re: Love Letter to San Diego --- baseball trip and more

OK --- I'll take your word for it but I watch virtually all Giants games on TV and hadn't heard that from Kruk, Kuip, Miller or Flemming --- so it's not something they say regularly. They do enjoy their time at the Omni across the street though. They talk about that.

Regarding our ballparks, I was talking to Padres fans over the week-end, who were raving about their ballpark (VERY nice --- built in 2004) and I characterized the parks as "Petco is a little more concrete- ey and AT&T is a little more brick-ey." Doesn't matter. We love ours, with the gorgeous view of the SF Bay and the fine folks in San Diego love theirs. We sat in two totally different sections of the ballpark on Saturday and Sunday. Last Sunday, Petco Park reminded me of Camden Yards (Baltimore) which I love so much, having first visited it in 1993 when it was new and became the consummate model of all downtown ballparks to come, over the next 20 years.

Nonetheless, Petco has its own SPECIAL charm (even for those of us from out-of-town) and some of what made it special for us was the music (Darius Rucker's "Wagon Wheel" --- which made us all rock throughout the ballpark) and the young Marines in the right field section on Sunday and the Rally Squirrel outrunning a fan on Saturday. We love our guy at AT&T Park who plays the organ and we love Ranelle (our announcer) and we love Crazy Legs (our favorite vendor) dancing to "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," (always shown on the Jumbotron) but when it comes down to it ---- both ballparks and both sets of fans are special. You will never catch me going to a game at Chavez Ravine (I probably spelled that wrong) but we LOVED our time watching baseball at Petco Park and plan to return as soon as we can.

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9. Re: Love Letter to San Diego --- baseball trip and more

Great trip report! Also great to hear that you love San Diego. Come back soon! There is still a lot to explore.

10. Re: Love Letter to San Diego --- baseball trip and more

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