October 16, 2012

San Diego part 1

Nice view of the harbor from our balcony.
Some time ago, my husband was invited to be the opening speaker at a conference in San Diego. He turned the offer down because the talk would occur on our anniversary. The conference people offered to bring me to San Diego, too, and pay for our hotel stay for a few days, so we accepted. About two weeks before the trip, I wrenched my back lifting heavy boxes, and it was still hurting so I considered not going. My chiropractor said the travel would probably aggravate my back but that I should be able to go, so I did. We arrived around 10 p.m. Wednesday night, exhausted, and I won't go into too many details, but the large resort hotel was less than perfect. The desk staff was unfriendly, the room had an odor somewhere between mildew and pee, and the bed — let's just say I had about three hours of sleep. We tried to air out the room with both the balcony door and the a.c. (no, not at the same time), but nothing helped. In the morning we could see that the carpet was scary. The room felt damp and cold even though it wasn't cold out. We did have a nice view of the harbor from our balcony, though. We were very grateful to the people who invited us to come but with my back acting up, we knew we had to stay elsewhere.

The next evening after the conference we asked for a different room, but the one they showed us wasn't an improvement, and since the only time my back doesn't hurt is when I'm lying down, the bed wasn't going to work out. We found another hotel and moved downtown for the rest of our stay. By the time we checked in, the day had taken its toll, and we were both tired and grumpy. The nasty salad we'd tried to eat for lunch between conference sessions at the hotel had cast a food-gloom over the day as well. We ended up with take-out from an Indian restaurant my husband liked, and my aloo gobi tasted good, but was far too greasy for me, and I still shudder a little when I think about it. Taking a photo never crossed my mind — that's how wiped-out I was.

The next morning we breakfasted on fruit from the grocery store, and snacks brought from home, and headed to La Jolla. We went to the Museum of Modern Art, and as we were buying our tickets I spied what looked like a Deborah Butterfield sculpture in one of the gallery rooms — and in fact, it was. The two horses were made from cast aluminum and steel. It's magical how she can create forms that are skeletal in nature, but filled with the life and weight of a living horse. Butterfield taught for a few years in the art department at the UW Madison at the same time as a friend of mine's husband. He found one of her early wire horses in the trash room, and brought it home. We're talking about a life-size horse, that they kept in their not-so-big living room. It was a pretty spectacular trash pick! They've moved a lot since then but I hope they still have it; the horse was quite wonderful, and we could never understand why it had been discarded.

We saw lots of great paintings at the gallery including a Milton Avery that I wished I could take home.


There was a room on the second floor that had cutouts in the corners so you could take photos of the very beautiful view, so of course, I did.

When we had seen all the art at least twice — it was a small museum — we headed to the museum gardens.

With exotic foliage all around us, and the ocean below, we luxuriated in the gorgeous weather and strolled the gardens.

An exuberant sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle stood prominently at one end of the garden. Abby, this is the same artist whose sculptures you posted about in NY, isn't she?

After leaving the art museum we walked the path overlooking the ocean and beach. The weather was perfect and the scenery so beautiful, and I kept wondering why we didn't live here. Oh right — probably couldn't afford it. Oh well.


Eventually we got hungry and headed to the vegan-friendly Lean and Green Café (organic health food). Although not vegetarian, they had several offerings from which we could choose and a pleasant outdoor patio on which to eat. The only weird thing was there was a gym facing the patio, and all the people on treadmills could stare at us as we ate. Made me feel guilty for eating instead of running so I chose a seat with my back to the athletes.

We settled on a vegan delight (roasted eggplant, fresh basil, roasted red pepper, baby spinach, sunflower seeds, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a wrap) and a miso bowl (brown rice, broccoli, carrots, fresh jalapenos, sesame miso sauce). I'd have to say that this may have been our favorite meal of the trip — the food was fresh and well-prepared, and we didn't get upset stomachs.

While we were there we also picked up a package of granola for breakfasts — eating three meals out in a day is just too much. The bag was expensive, but it lasted the rest of the trip, and I even brought some home, so it worked out to be a bargain.

At first bite I thought it was too sweet, but it quickly grew on me and I decided I really liked it. A lot! Nice and crunchy and very filling. I ate it dry.


We didn't go to dinner until 8:30 p.m. partly because we were tired and couldn't get our act together, and partly because we were still full from lunch when dinnertime rolled around. We picked a place that was highly rated on several review sites. I really wanted to try to stick with vegan or vegetarian places and the Thai restaurant, Plumaria, met all our criteria. We started with fresh spring rolls, and they were OK — not quite up to the ones we're used to in Seattle, or the ones we make ourselves. Or even the ones we used to get from a certain food truck in Madison. But they weren't bad — just not exciting.

Both dishes are on the plate but you can hardly tell them apart.
We also ordered two dishes to share, and although they seemed very different on the menu — one was a tofu and veggie thing with ginger and the other was a wide-noodle dish — when they arrived they were exactly the same color. Brown. They tasted a lot alike, too. You can't judge a restaurant on one visit so I won't say I'll never go back. But we weren't overwhelmed by our dinner.

After a long day of walking and eating, we were really glad we'd changed our hotel and could sink into a comfortable bed to be rested for the next day.

21 comments:

  1. Too many bad hotel experiences (with several other reasons) is why we want an Airstream. It's so exhausting to be traveling and not have a nice place to stay.

    At first I thought the picture of the horse art was to show how tired you were (you being the horse laying down). :) I would have loved to see those and what a find that your friend had! Very lucky.

    The gardens look as pretty as the art and that sculpture! Ah, I would have been in heaven with all the beautiful art & nature.

    I'm glad at least one of your meals was decent, but that's too bad that the others were sub-par and so weird that people on treadmills were facing you. I would hate that!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Interesting what you said about the horses, because initially they were metaphorical self-portraits for Deborah Butterfield. The prone horses were her being completely relaxed and unafraid of her critics. Horses usually sleep standing up and only lie down if they feel completely safe. But seriously, the horse lying down could have been me after three hours of sleep.

      When I looked at the sweating treadmillers, I knew I'd need my back to them in order to eat — even though it was healthy food. :)

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  2. Ooh, I'm sorry to hear you wrenched your back, and that you had such a skanky hotel room! Yuk, sounds like a bed-bug candidate. How did they manage to get it all damp and mildewy in a climate like San Diego's?! Glad you moved to nicer digs. San Diego is too pretty to have to put up with dodgy lodgings!

    I thought the same thing Molly did, and that maybe the prostrate horse was your animal totem for this trip! :-) Ted's trash picking haul was impressive, made even more so by the fact they still have the horse despite many moves (says the weary veteran of too many moves herself lately).

    I love your photos of the pretty views (love those flowers along the walking path by the ocean), the garden and the sculptures (and of course, the food!) Funny you'd say that about wondering why you don't live there - last night the Denver Broncos played the San Diego Chargers in San Diego, and one of the sportscasters said, "Every time I visit this place, I wonder why I don't live here!" (And hey, how 'bout those Broncos?!) :-)

    I LOL'ed about the people on the treadmills staring at you while you eat at that one restaurant! I wouldn't want sweating people watch me eat, and I wouldn't want to watch people stuffing their faces while I'm working out. Just an odd arrangement either way!

    I hope your back is feeling better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No bed bugs — just a little out of date and in need of renovation. It must be challenging to own a large resort.

      San Diego really does look like a great place to live. I don't know anyone who lives there so I don't know what an insider scoop would be. It was so pretty everywhere — and the weather is great!

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  3. I love that granola, that's what I base most of the buckwheat stuff I make after. I especially like the chocolate, but it's prohibitively $$$. i only buy it for roadtrips.

    xo
    kittee

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes, it's great and I have to remember it for future trips. The buckwheat and all the seeds and nuts are sprouted — probably more ambition required than what I have. I'll have to look for your recipes.

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  4. Blech, I've had too many meals that resembled your last photos. But, phew; I'm so glad this review otherwise had a happy ending. And yes, that's definitely a Niki! I hope to blog her sculptures from Spain one day :-)

    Thanks for the introduction to Deborah Butterfield. And what a lucky "find" for your friends!

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    Replies
    1. I think you would have been more, shall we say, direct than I was, but maybe we were there on a off night — and it was kind of close to closing time. And I really hate to say bad things about veggie restaurants.

      I'm glad I got to see the Niki in person after seeing her sculptures on your blog!

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  5. The view from your balcony was gorgeous! Too bad the hotel was not very nice. I often wonder why hotel owners don't take better care of their property, and why they don't send hire people with excellent customer service skills.

    The horses are stunning! I can't picture one of them in our living room though! :D

    ReplyDelete
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    1. It's probably very expensive and an ongoing battle to keep hotels in good shape, but yeah, why don't they? But the staff really sets the tone for the hotel, so you'd think they would want considerate people at the front desk, not people who make you feel like you're bothering them when you check in.

      The horse looked — unique — in the living room. Not your average art work.

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  6. Sandy Eggo does have good hotels, I am sorry that you got a poor one. I live in the area and even have worked in the San Diego Convention Center. There is more fabulous Niki art up in Escondido, an entire park of it. Niki de Saint Phalle's Queen Califia's Magical Circle. When you are down next time it is well worth the visit.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Our second hotel was great so we only had one bad night. Thanks for the tip about Niki. If I find myself in the area again I'll definitely look into seeing more of her pieces. A whole park would be something to see!

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  7. Bummer the hotel wasn't better, but glad you at least didn't have to stay there for your whole trip. I've visited La Jolla a few times, I've always wanted to check out that museum but never seem to get around to it...

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    1. The museum is small but it had several pieces I really loved. And the gardens were really nice. The tickets are good at the museum in San Diego, too.

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  8. I am so sorry to hear about your hotel experience. I have mean back pain from time to time, so I think I can imagine how horrible your first night must have been. Glad to hear the test of the trip was better!

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    1. Thanks for the sympathy! An uncomfortable bed can sure ruin a vacation.

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  9. Sorry, I meant "the rest".

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  10. If you just scrolled through these beautiful pictures, you wouldn't know about all the trauma on your trip - glad some of it worked out well. I'd love to check out the Modern Art museum one day

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    1. It really wasn't so much trauma — and it was only for a day. The rest of the time was great! I'd love to go back.

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  11. When you got to the part about how wiped out you were and then there was a picture of a horse laying on his side, I thought you were trying to do some kind of artistic representation of your fatigue!

    Having a comfortable bed & satisfying food is so important on a trip. It can really cast a large pall otherwise. How is your back now?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You're not the only one who thought that. Maybe I should use more symbolism. Read my answer to Molly — comment #1.

      My back is much better, though I'm surprised that it's still bothering me. More exercises and more walking needed.

      Delete

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