Wednesday, 25 June 2014

San Diego and Young Love. Aww...

San Diego is the second biggest city in California, but it often flies under the radar compared to San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs or even Monterey. Having been to all of these Californian cities, plus some, I think San Diego gets the raw end of the deal. It is in fact a fun city to visit and with plenty to offer for adults and kids alike.


San Diego feels like a much smaller Los Angeles. The beaches, the sand, the palm trees are still here. The variety of neighbourhoods, each with its own distinctive vibe, which is so typical of LA is also a characteristic of San Diego, but gone is the horrendous LA traffic and the angsty attitude of the Angelenos (with that traffic, how can you blame them?). In San Diego there are (slightly) emptier freeways and a much more relaxed mood. 

If in LA people live in sportswear and trainers and they are often chasing the dream, in San Diego they wear a vest, shorts, flip flops and they are often chasing nothing the waves. Of course I am exaggerating, but all in all San Diego is a pretty chilled affair. Yes, go and experience it for yourself what it feels like when 'You are on beach time' after all. 


Both Mr H and I had visited the city before so this trip was all about going places that we knew we would love as well as making sure that Little G would have enjoyed them too. We rented a house with a couple of good friends and their little boy who is the same age as Miss G and her favourite Skype friend, so we knew the weekend would have been a fun one for everyone. In hindsight the kids loved each other's company so much that we could have basically not have left the house and the;d be happy. But leave the house we did and here are some of the places we went to

San Diego Zoo
One of the best zoos in the world, San Diego zoo is home to koala bears, tigers, elephants, polar bears and other 600 species of animals including two giant pandas (prepare to queue to see those though). It is a peaceful park and one that can't help but please both adults and kids alike. When it all gets too hot, you can ride on the Skyfari and appreciate the aerial view of the zoo and enjoy a bit of cool air.


Mission Bay
Luckily for us the Mission Bay beach was on our doorstep and Miss G and her little friend B clocked on to this straight away and demanded impromptu visits to the beach. Mission Bay is a lagoon and offers warm and calm water which is just perfect for splashing around, playing with rocks and seaweed. Had we had more time, renting a bike to cycle around the bay would have been on the agenda too. Maybe next time.


La Jolla 
San Diego is not only home to humans, but it is also home to some adorable seals. They like to swim and sunbathe in La Jolla cove. They are truly funny and wonderful animals to observe and the kids had plenty of fun looking at them. Despite the cold Ocean water, Little G and her little partner in crime decided it was time for a splash and another bit of playing by the sea.


Whilst La Jolla Cove and the seals are fun to look at, La Jolla village with its little boutiques and bars is also a good place to hang out in San Diego. And if you fancy a short 10 minutes drive the Birch Aquarium is a fun and educational place to visit. And surely much better than wasting money to see animals perform tricks at SeaWorld. What? You thought that SeaWorld would be a San Diego must-visit? I bet you'll disagree if you rent a copy of 'Blackfish'

There are plenty of other fun things to do in San Diego. The Gaslamp Quarter is one of my favourite spots in town to grab a nice dinner and drinks, whilst for the kids the huge Balboa Park with its 15 museums, rides and restaurants is a must-see. Of course we would have done all of this, but Miss G and her little friend B had no interest in much else beside each other so us adults took a leaf from their book and just took it easy. When in San Diego...

... walk to the beach with your best buddy
... climb on elephants with your best buddy
... splash in the ocean with your best buddy
... share a buggy, a bath and a bed with your best buddy
and make sure to have a rooftop dinner in your matching sheep PJs overlooking the bay.



Oh, the fun and games of young love...aww...

Monday, 23 June 2014

Joshua Tree and God

There are some places on Earth that make you believe in God. Places that are so vividly stunning and so impossibly mystical that you can't help but believe that someone has created them to remind us of our human mortality.

Joshua Tree National Park is one of those places. It is in the Mojave desert in California where it is suffocating hot in summer (43 degrees whilst we were there) and fairly cold in deep winter nights. It's the kind of place that you would not believe anything or anyone could survive in. But nature - or God - is there to prove you wrong.

There are boulders and rock formations everywhere. I couldn't stop thinking that humans could never achieve such beauty. Nature can, but mankind can't. It is too utterly random and yet so incredibly perfect. And then there is the actual Joshua tree itself. This wonky and somewhat strange tree that can resist the heat, the cold and even bloom every couple of years. It was named after the prophet Joshua as it's branches appear to stretch in all directions praying God for the Promised Land.



The national park itself is the stuff of your childhood. Of cowboys and Indians. Of solitary heroes riding their horses for hours in the sun with not a soul in sight. it is the place for wondering, for exploring, for switching off, for imagining the past and for forgetting your woes. Binoculars at hand, a bottle of water each and sneakers on our feet, we went for a hike in The Hidden Valley, one of the shortest hikes in the park, but also one of the most stunning. Plus, believe you me, with that heat 45 minutes of hiking on wonky rocks was as much as Miss G could handle! Bless her 3 year old little legs!




The odd animal spotting made the hike even more interesting.  You wouldn't believe that animals would survive in that dry heat and with no water in sight pretty much all year around and yet we saw desert mice, lizards, birds and even an iguana who was happily sunbathing and soaking in the heat.


Mr H and I were actually very impressed with our own little hiker as, despite the unsteady terrain and crazy heat, she did not give up, moan too much or expected to be carried. She just soldiered through keen to see more. That's my girl! And here she is giving you a factual account of what she was seeing, well, all of it beside the Tyresactourus. Luckily there were no dinosaurs in the park, no real ones, nor made-up-named ones.


After all that hard work, there was only one thing for it: lots of water - sadly warm by this point - and a picnic inside the air conditioned car as killer bees are attracted by the cars' air/con fluid and they have a habit to circle cars and sting its inhabitants. That's Nature God for you - come and enjoy what is around you, but remember to be vigilant because you're most definitely not the Boss in this world!




Wednesday, 11 June 2014

She is a Diver! Who knew?

For the past year Little G has been taking weekly swimming lessons with her nanny. I have never been to her classes, but I hear that she is confident in water and enjoys swimming very much. What better place to put the theory to the test than in the swimming pool of our Palm Springs hotel, where the daily temperature was a soaring 42 degrees?

Miss G and Mr H headed off to the pool before me and this is the stunning scene that I found when I joined them.


Hot, sunny and blissful. What I had not anticipated was a whole afternoon of belly laughs following Little G's persistent requests of diving in the pool. The kid is fearless and relentless and has no interest in swimming around. No, no, no. All she wants to do is jump and dive in, again and again and again! By the end of the afternoon she actually a father encouraging his 7 years old son to take a leaf out of her book and start diving in! I guess she started a trend.


What do you think? Should I introduce her to Tom Daley? Wah ah ah ah 

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