San Diego

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Right at the southwest corner of the United States is the pretty city of San Diego, which like the rest of California has an abundance of good weather and good living. There are pleasant beaches and fun nightlife, as well as some diverting historical attractions. The city is built around a natural harbour, and hence has been a US naval based for a long time.

San Diego was the last stop in our 2010 tour of the California coastline, before we headed back inland bound for Las Vegas. We spend a night in the Gas Lamp district of downtown, followed by the Pacific Beach area the following night, also replete with bars. Perhaps the highlight for me was visiting the Del Coronado hotel, which I'd first seen many years earlier in the movie "Some Like It Hot".

Downtown San Diego and marina

Downtown San Diego and the boats in the marina. The city centre is compact and pleasant to walk around, but also well connected with the airport barely a couple of miles away, and Interstate 5 sweeping right around the edge.

Adjacent to the downtown area is the Gas Lamp district, so called for its old-school street lighting, although no longer powered by gas.

Gas Lamp district, San Diego

Star of India

The 19th century Star of India sits now as a museum ship at the San Diego Maritime Museum. Built in 1863, she used to ply the routes between the UK and New Zealand, before sitting for nearly 40 years prior to restoration.

But the centrepiece attraction at San Diego harbour must be the USS Midway, a 1945 aircraft carrier which saw active service throughout the Vietnam war and Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf in 1990. She was decommissioned during the 90s and set up as a museum ship in San Diego in 2004. She is quite a contrast to the Kiev which I visited in Tanggu, China!

USS Midway

Del Coronado Hotel

The Del Coronado Hotel is the grand old dame of San Diego, with a prime location facing out to the Pacific Ocean, and an illustrious history to match. The hotel was used as the location for 1959's "Some Like It Hot", ostensibly in Florida, with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and the incomparable Marilyn Monroe.

The courtyard at the Del Coronado. The hotel itself was only used for exterior shots in the movie, the rest was done in a studio.


Reception at the Del

Inside the Del Coronado's reception area, with as much dark wood panelling and chandeliers as you'd expect for a hotel of this vintage and standard.

Beach view of the Del. It was here on the sand that Marilyn Monroe asked Jack Lemmon whether he liked jazz, to which he replied "well, some like it hotů"

Some like it hotů

Juan Luis Cabrillo

At the tip of Point Loma peninsula is the Cabrillo National Monument, celebrating the landing of Juan Luis Cabrillo who was the first European to set foot on the west coast of what would later be the United States, in the 1500s. Naturally, he claimed the entire area for the Spanish empire.

Also at Point Loma is Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, a war graves site not unlike those that can be found around the northern coast of France.

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

Pacific Beach

Up the coast a little is the Pacific Beach area, which gets a bit of cloud occasionally as you can see. The overcast grey didn't deter the surfers though, keen to catch a wave.

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2011