July 13, 2010

The Golden Coast

As soon as I got to San Diego, I wanted to move there. I was afraid I would be let down, since I expected it to be the best place ever. Turns out it is... the oven that is NYC can't measure up to the 70 degree weather in SoCal. It was more of a vibe though... kind of like the Europe vibe where you just feel more excited about life and never want to go home.

We got there on a Thursday night and the downtown Gaslamp Quarter was a huge party. We stayed in the Keating Hotel, designed by the same company that makes Ferraris and Maseratis. The king size bed was one of the best feathery comfy hotel beds ever. I almost went to bed right away, instead of going out. But then I took a shower... it was open, as in see through, no door, right in the room, and had two shower heads, although this may be uncomfortable if you're not staying with your significant other. Double sinks, state of the art TV and wall radio (the first song on the radio when we turned it on was "California Gurls" by Katy Perry...93.3FM!), ipod dock in the alarm clock, espresso machine, and charger dock. Comfortable robes and slippers provided since the floors are concrete (therefore more sanitary?). Pull out closet, yoga mat, and big windows. They left desserts and spa music on the radio when they turned down the room every night. The first night Shaun, his friend and I went to a place called Tequila for some food and drinks. We were too tired to try the uber trendy club across the street.

On Friday, we got food at Richard Walkers Pancake House (giant apple pancake German thing) then went to Pacific Beach. The guys took a surf lesson and I laid around on the beach. It was great. So sunny, but not too hot. Not crowded, typical California... too cool for Least Coast. Girls still wear trucker hats though. That's so 2006. My sister and her bf arrived that night and
we went to dinner at the place connected to our hotel...nom Italian. Then we tried to go to a rooftop bar called Altitude at the top of the Marriott. But we went to the wrong Marriott and when we finally got to the real Marriott by PETCO Park... the line was long and Shaun said the crowd looked lame. Ha! So snotty! So we went to the lounge at the bottom of our hotel... basement lounge, trying to be hip and exclusive. We got in for free since we were hotel guests, but the drinks were way too expensive even compared to NYC and once again, the crowd was beat, according to Shaun. We danced a little after getting kicked out of the empty VIP section for wanting to sit rather than buy bottles...we made the lounge look cooler by actually sitting in the empty section, but whatever.

Saturday...what the heck did we do Saturday? OH! We piled 6 people into the rental Civic and went to the Hotel del Coronado, National Historic Landmark. I was excited for this because I'm a fan of the movie, Some Like It Hot, with Marilyn Monroe. In the movie, the hotel is known as "FLORIDA!" where she goes to look for millionaires with yachts who wear glasses..."Men who wear glasses are so much more gentle, and sweet, and helpless. Haven't you ever noticed it?..They get those weak eyes from reading - you know, those long tiny little columns in the Wall Street Journal." We mostly hung out at the hotel beach and bar/deck.

That night we pregamed in robes (well, I did) and then went to Quality Social for dinner and drinks. Afterward we finally waited in that dumb line for Altitude. I got a water when we got in...the views were great though, there was a trendy fire pit, and lots of trendy people and we actually got a table in the VIP section and didn't have to buy anything, although Susan sat in a puddle of water and looked like she had dirty pee pants. hahaha

Sunday was the 4th of July and it was cold and cloudy. Susan and Dave went to the zoo, but I was hoping it would get sunny and the rest of us went to La Jolla. As soon as we got out of the car, we got back in. It was just too cold to beach. We shopped at the outlets and got taquitos at Rubio's... the better West Coast Taco Bell apparently. Then we moseyed back to the hotel and went to the Strip Club for dinner. There were old school pin up girls on the wall, but no strippers, just strip steaks for $10 that you grill yourself during happy hour. Kind of amazing even though I don't like steak. I had a $5 martini instead. That night we all piled into the car and went to Shaun's friend's house party in Pacific Beach (PB if you're a local). I was cranky because I missed most of the fireworks waiting around for everyone to get ready. The house was frat-like and there was a sedated pit bull in the corner and people talking about Molly... HOWEVER they had a DJ and he was spinning and mixing and smokin a bong at the same time! They also had a view of the bay from their frat house in the hills with a pool and hot tub. Susan fell asleep on a lawn chair so we went home before the E arrived. Good call!

The 5th was our last morning in San Diego, sad face. We got a rental and Shaun drove us to Santa Barbara. Lots of traffic and I had to take Dramamine from the stop and go, so I fell asleep for a long time. In Santa B, we had dinner with Susan's friend at an Italian Place in the little downtown area. There wasn't much going on near our crappy hotel, so Shaun and I took a walk to the pier and had a drink as pretty much the only people in the restaurant.

Tuesday was a good drive, through the prettiest part of the country I've ever seen. I did the drive up Highway 1 when I was about 12, and I remembered wanting to move to Northern California, Big Sur and Carmel. It's still where I'd like to end up when I'm retired (not much to do job-wise). We stopped and took pictures along the way, attempted to go to Hearst Castle, but the wait was long, so instead we had lunch and hiked down a cliff to the ocean. I didn't think I could do it, especially in a dress but I did and only had a small battle wound from when Susan gave me some "help" getting onto a boulder and boosted a little too much. We had dinner in Carmel and walked around the cottages and beach, then did the 17 mile drive and stalked mansions and seals.

Hours later we got to San Fran. It was more city than I expected, basically like NYC, so I didn't really like it upon arrival. We stayed at the Crescent, a newish boutique hotel. I'm not sure if I wasn't impressed because I came from The Keating... or if it was truly sub-par. The room was clean but small. I really think the building is haunted. Not just because it's really old and refurbished and the hallways are pitch black and creak... I swear I heard someone open the bathroom door when I was in the shower and Shaun woke up in the middle of the night and thought the room was filled with smoke. WTF.

The room was meh, but the staff was bad. If you're in the hospitality industry, I'm fairly certain you're supposed to be hospitable. When I first walked into the lobby, the people at the desk looked at me like I was lost. We asked them to book us a trip to Napa as they said they could via email, and we had to remind them the next day. No one had confirmed. When we still didn't hear from them, we went to the desk. The manager was there alone, and had no idea what we were talking about or how they book tours. I asked if I could call myself and pointed to the brochure on his desk, and he said sure... I gave him a look like, really? You're going to let a guest make their own reservations? So he called while we stood there and waited. Lamesauce. When we walked upstairs (because the elevator was broken), we found that our room hadn't been made up... it was at least 6pm. Isn't that the worst when you expect a fresh made bed? Sheesh! We had to call the desk once again and they sent someone up and made another excuse about being understaffed. Perhaps they could hire some of the unemployed who loaf around on the sidewalks outside their doors?

Wednesday Shaun made me have a gross Irish chicken sandwich for breakfast, because he wanted to watch the World Cup and we didn't know where to go. I had a screwdriver to make up for it and then got cupcakes for everyone. We went to the Ferry Building and Fishermans Wharf and took a boat tour around Alcatraz, but didn't get to go there because it was booked. Shaun and I had dinner at Level III, this fancy hotel restaurant and Zillow'd how much houses cost in Malibu and Carmel (too much). But San Diego is affordable!!

Our last day on the Golden Coast was spent in Napa. We took a bus tour and it was actually hot outside for the first time since we arrived in CA. We went to three wineries. The best was Madonna Estate, second oldest in Napa Valley... we ordered 6 bottles. We'll have to go to lots of BYO places I guess. We also went to Sutter Home. They invented White Zinfandel by accident back in the day. Our driver was pretty great, because he knew about a billion facts and should probably be on Jeopardy. For dinner we had Cheesecake Factory (everything for everyone on their 50 page menu!). Shaun and I had to leave at 5:30 am, but I think we were ready to go especially because we were headed to Avalon NJ for the weekend. SF was okay, but I thought I would like it more. As Mark Twain said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

I still want to move to San Diego and retire in Big Sur/Carmel. Oh, and I want to live at a vineyard in Napa somewhere along the way. Meanwhile I'm sweating in 90 degree Jersey friggin' City with strep throat. As Biggie once said, I'm going, going back, back to Cali, Cali. Now, Now please?


  1. pre-gaming in bath robes... classic:-) Next trip.... Hawaiiiiiiii??

  2. This was fun. We need to make it a regular thing. I like the part about my dirty pee pants HAHAH

    And despite all the weird homeless people, I think we should have a mass exodus, and all move to San Diego next year :D I'm all about it.