Another War and Peace installment - from San Diego

Trip Start Aug 30, 2010
Trip End Aug 29, 2011

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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I’ve had another eventful week, which didn’t quiet start how I had planned.

I wrote my last blog from San Francisco the morning I was leaving. I had booked a flight (I’m a lazy traveller and didn’t fancy 12 hours on the train even if it was $100 cheaper) from San Fran to San Diego, departing at 10.45am. I had packed the night before and had originally planned to do my blog then but I was hanging and really needed sleep. So when I woke on the morning of my departure all I had to do was shower, have breakfast and write my blog. I had made the journey from the airport to the hostel, using the subway and walking, when I arrived in San Fran so felt confident I had left plenty of time to make the return trip. I was up early, had my shower and got down to the ballroom for breakfast. Here was my first delay, the queue for bagels and fruit. As I tapped my foot impatiently, checking my watch every two seconds, I eventually came to the front of the queue. I grabbed a bagel and put it on the revolving toasting machine. I had done this every morning for the last few morning but now, I was more aware of time, it seemed to take forever!

Anyway, it certainly felt like I ate the bagel quicker than it took to toast it, and the indigestion I had later only confirmed that! Ha ha. So I now had an hour to write my blog before leaving the hostel just before 9am. I predicted this should get me to the airport for 10am. Although this was cutting in a little fine (I was already having mild concerns about my planning) there is only a 45 min cut off for internal flights and I could self check in. I wrote as quick as I could but I’m not the speediest typist, and every time I checked the clock it seemed now to be in fast forward. So at 9am I wrapped up what I was writing (I haven’t read the blog back since so not sure if it ended as abruptly as I felt it did) and grabbed my bags. I then went on a power walk to the subway station. With my pack on though I wasn’t covering the ground that quickly. I arrived at the station to find the closest ticket machines were out of order so I had a little detour before I could get my ticket and get to the platform. Just as I got on to the platform I saw a train I could have taken depart. It was at that moment I had a sinking feeling that maybe luck wasn’t going to be with me. I fought of the pessimistic thoughts and started tapping my foot again willing another train arrive quickly. Eventually one arrived and I jumped on. By this point I’m checking my watch every other second and my shins were aching from the constant tapping. It is 9.30am and I beginning to remember how long the subway trip had taken on my arrival in San Fran. During that journey I had been gazing out the window, with a broad grin, taking in all the hills and outlying suburbs. Now I was staring at the map of the subway route counting the stops, all 10 of them, again and again. As if by looking at them maybe all of a sudden there would be less. My face was thunder and I was cursing in my mind. No, to be honest I was so mad with myself I was cursing under my breath. I couldn’t believe my lack of planning meant I was going to miss a flight. I’ve never missed a flight before, never! The flight had cost $160 which kept me just within my budget for the month, but now I’d have to book another flight for later that day. Maybe I’d have to look at cheaper alternatives and spend 12 or more hours on a bus after all.

So I got to the airport and it was 9.55am!! I dared to think I might make it by the skin of my teeth. As I enterd the terminal building it was a scene of utter chaos! People everywhere, with no obvious queue. People shoving past each other. There were a dozen or so self check in machine but each one was busy. Imagine the machine as if they are in the middle of a circle and the circle consits of people in every direction about 5 deep! Joy! I stood jostling to get a good position. If you can’t beat them join them. But after a few minutes the clock struck 10am and I knew there was no way now I’d get checked in and make the flight.

I was now seething, with myself, but was ready to take it out on the officials who had let the terminal become such a free-for-all. There were two ladies in uniforms stood in a corner chatting so I approached and asked who I needed to talk to about rebooking a flight. I inferred that because of the lack of order I hadn’t been able to self check in and had now missed the flight. They looked a little put out and pointed me to the manned check in desks. This time there was an orderly queue it just happened to stretch nearly the length of the terminal! So I got in line and waited worrying how much another flight was going to cost me. I eventually got to the front and told the chap that I had missed my flight and needed to book another. He took my passport tapped away on his computer quickly and said “ok, you’re on stand by for the next flight at 2.05pm. Do you need to check your bag in?” I asked about the cost and he said there wasn’t he just transferred the ticket and put me on stand-by. Apparently this is very common in the states. I stood in disbelief for a moment. Woop woop! I was jubilant that this cock up hadn’t cost me more money as an additional punishment!! I was so relieved! I had two and a half hours to kill before my boarding gate opened but I didn’t care. I had got away with out paying anything more so would have happily sat in the airport all day if I’d have had to. I had updated my face book status with the calamity just to amuse people but did so once I knew the situation wasn’t so bad. I was able to seem cool, calm and laid back. Where as now you know the truth, that I was so mad with myself but only chilled out when I knew there was no additional costs. Anyway, sorry, that is a very long explanation of my misfortune and I haven’t even told you about San Diego yet!! If you need to take a break and grab a cup of tea before you continue reading I’d understand. I don’t half go on!! :o)

So after the drama at the airport I arrived safely in San Diego and got the bus to my hostel. I have found Americans generally to be so helpful. As soon as I pull out a map, or start staring at street signs, someone will stop and ask if I’m ok. It has been really nice. So, on the bus trip to my hostel I pull out a copy of the time table and someone asked where I was heading. When I gave them the name of the hostel they said “Oh yeah, no worries, I let you know which stop you need, and you can see the hostel from the bus stop.” I can’t imagine people being that helpful at home. Am I doing the UK a disservice? As promise the bus stopped and I could see my base. I had decided to have 3 nights on the coast in San Diego and 4 night downtown as I had heard how spread out the city was.

The costal hostel wasn’t actually that close to the sea, it was about a 15 min walk, but in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t problem. The place itself was clean and tidy, and although the bloke that gave me the brief introduction to the hostel lacked any enthusiasm I was generally happy with my surroundings. I went up to my room and meet one of my first room mate - Bobbie. When I first saw her I didn’t get her name as she was asleep - she did a lot of that - and she was snoring! I guessed she was about 60, she was slightly over weight, and had obviously been in the hostel of a little while as there was a bedside table next to her bed and her things were all set out. I put my things away as quietly as I could but Bobbie soon stirred. She asked if she had been ‘wheezing’, and excused it due to her asthma! Ha ha. She introduced her self and then started an inquisition. What was I doing, where was I going, what did I do at home, and so on. Most of my responses to the questions were meat with an example of when she had done similar or traveled herself. I knew there and then she was going to be an interesting character!

After an hour or so my next room mate arrived. She was a well dressed lady, about 50 year of age and she introduced herself as Sharma. Bobbie didn’t wait on pleasantries and asked if that was a spiritual name. Sharma explain it was, and she had legally changed her name in 1979. She realized quickly that Bobbie would want more info and explain she was in San Diego for a 4 day spiritual and meditation workshop. Am I painting a picture?! Ha ha.

Anyway, my next task on arriving in San Diego was some dinner. After spending some time with DanI (the girl I meet in San Francisco) I had realized I was missing a trick by not buying some of my own food to last a few days, to stop me having to eat out and buying crappy snacks once out. I had been spoilt in most of my hostels that there had been a number of free meals, most had done breakfast, so I’d got by without getting any groceries. As this hostel seemed small, and the unenthusiastic host had explain there was a fridge for food and a box on a shelf in the kitchen for each bed, I decided I’d go food shopping. I was also craving some fruit and veg as I hadn’t had much in the last few weeks. I went to the supermarket across the road with a clear idea of what to get and how much food I needed, and I stuck to it. I returned with my bags and as dicribed I had my own box and there were labels already made up for my item to go in the fridge. In the kitchen were also a few other residents. A gentleman in his late 60 who was cycling across the states, and another lady of about 65. I was beginning to think I wasn’t in a hostel but more a retirement home. It was very odd being the youngest. It didn’t bother me to much though and the peace and quiet was well needed.

I retired (ha ha) to my room early and went on my laptop. At 10pm Sharma asked Bobbie to turn the main light out as she had to be up early. This didn’t bother me as I was watching a film on my but Bobbie seemed a little put out. There were no individual lights by the beds as I’ve had in other places. Sharma picked up on the tension and pointed out to Bobbie there was a sign that quiet time was from 10pm - 8am. This did not appease Bobbie but merely made her more annoyed at being talked down to! However, she did as she was asked - or told, as Bobbie saw it - and went to sleep in a sulk. I just sat on my top bunk, minding my own business, but smirking at the fact that no matter what people’s age, cohabiting can bring out a childish side! Ha ha.

Once my film was finished I settled down to sleep. Bobbie had been snoring since the moment she had fallen asleep but as I had earphones in and was concentrating it hadn’t bothered me. I had replaced the earphones with ear plugs but now I was trying to get to sleep the snoring seemed louder. I eventually dosed off but stirred again a few hours later. This time to hear both Bobbie and Sharma snoring! I just couldn’t block out the noise. Eventually the pillow went over my head and I got back to sleep. I woke up with a start, slightly bleary eyed, as my bed was shaking! I pulled out my ear plugs and sat up. Looking over the edge I could see Sharma, who had been in the bunk below, now sat leaning against the side of the bed shaking her arms vigorously. For a moment I wasn’t sure if she was having a fit of some sort. Then as she hummed, and I noticed she was sat crossed legged, I realized she had been meditating! I nearly laugh out loud, not at the fact she was meditating, but at the fact I was about to jump down from the top bunk to see if she was ok and if I had I’d have probably scared her half to death!! Ha ha. Once Sharma had finished meditating she said good morning and started getting her things together. Bobbie was still asleep, and still snoring - did I mention she did a lot of that Ha ha - and Shrama turned to me and said “she‘s got the cutest snore hasn‘t she?” I wanted to reply, no at 3am this morning I didn’t think either of you had cute snores, but instead I just smiled and didn’t say anything. Well if you’ve not got nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all! The next couple of nights were very similar, including Sharma asking Bobbie to turn the light out, but I got better at ignoring the snoring. I also hired a bike on my fist full day in San Diego and walked a lot so was physically exhausted which I think aided my rest.

Even hiring the bike is a funny story as I ended up with a 'beach cruiser'. I just went into a shop that advertised outside bike rentals. I assumed it would be a mountain bike. After paying my money I was shown my ‘cruiser’. Basically it has no breaks or gears on the handle bars. In fact there are no gears at all, and you stop the bike by turning the pedals anti clockwise!! Well it was the strangest experience. They say you never forget how to ride a bike, but they weren’t talking about ’cruisers’ when they said that. How I didn’t kill myself I have no idea, but I covered a lot more ground and was able to see the old lighthouse and a monument at the tip of Point Loma which had been on my 'things to do' list. My time near the coast wasn’t that inspiring and after the three nights I was ready to move to see what downtown had to offer.

My new hostel was right in the middle of the action. I was a little worried I was about to relive Miami, and that it was going to be a tough few nights. I’m happy to say though I was left to my own devices, and although there are pub crawls and a ‘party’ room, the door to the party room is kept closed and the sound didn't travel.

So since being in downtown I have seen the Coranrdo Hotel (where 'Some Like it Hot' was filmed), Balboa Park, and on Monday (27th Sep) I went to the Mexican boarder!

It is one of the busiest international borders, so my guide book told me, and after seeing it I can believe it. It was quiet an experience all in all but to start with I almost didn’t realize I’d crossed into Mexico using the walkway. However I could see the big Mexico sign and the cars below me being stopped. After a few hundered yards I came to a tourist information booth and got a map. I was told a 10 - 15 min walk would see me in downtown. So off I set. The walk, which was clearly signposted every few yards, was obviously a tourist track and it took me though a concrete market area. It was filthy dirty and lined with local men - who all seemed as filthy as the street. Some were sat by stalls, or outside their souvenir shops, and others were just sat, and they were all staring! Some were calling over as well. “Come in my shop beautiful lady” “Hey lady, were are you from?” One even shouted “You smell nice, I can smell your…..” I didn’t wait to hear the end of that sentence I just quickened my pace and almost broke into a jog!

I though this is obviously just the rough bit before I get to downtown. But I felt so uncomfortable I could feel them all watching me. It then became apparent as I got to the main street that the gauntlet I’d just run was just the warm up. On the main street every shop was either a bar, souvenir shop or pharmacy selling Viagra. And outside each one there were men stood watching and calling out. It was even more filthy and I forgot to mention the temperature was just in the 100’s! Needless to say, my plans of spending a few hours wandering around disappeared. By this point all I wanted was a magnet and I was going straight back to the US!

I have been sending mum a magnet from each of the places I stop and I couldn’t come all the way to Mexico, endure the staring, and not get a magnet. I walked past one shop and the man outside didn’t say anything. The shop also seemed spacious, so there was no chance of being cornered - that was my mindset I felt that uncomfortable - so I stopped and grabbed a magnet. The selection of magnets was so bad. The one a grabbed looks like a bit of paper that is too small was been put in some plastic, but I wasn’t stopping anywhere else and it was funny it was so bad. Anyway, I literally walked down one side of the main street and back up the other and headed straight back to the border. Entering back into the US was when it really felt like a border. We all had to queue and have our documents checked four or five times, and when at the front of the queue an official asked what my business was, and where was I going. I wanted to say I want to go as far away from here as possible please! Don’t get me wrong I am glad I went and saw it - but I can say that as it all turned out alright in the end. I also certainly don’t believe that what I saw represented Mexico, and hopefully one day I’ll get to see the 'real' Mexico.

So those are some of the adventures from another weeks traveling. Can’t believe I’ve been away over 4 weeks now!! Time is starting to fly by. Sorry for such a long blog again, but I love telling you all about what’s been going on. It’s the closest I can get to sharing this experience with you. I might have to start adding blogs when things happen rather than weekly, but we'll see how it goes. Feels a bit one sided though, so please feel free to tell me what you’ve been up to. What was the funniest, scariest or best thing that happened to you this week? I want to know, I’m interested :o)

Right I leave San Diego at lunchtime ( I've left plenty of time to get the train), I have one night in LA (staying with a friend of Kerry’s, so really looking forward to not being in a hostel), then I fly to Peru on Thursday! I am excited and anxious. It almost feels like the real traveling starts then! I’ve almost been on holiday in the US. Visiting all the tourist spots, hot showers, and a free breakfast here and there. Although the Peru leg is more organized as I will be traveling with a tour guide and group. It also includes a 4 day trek and camping though. I am looking forward to the challenge - and they say the bigger the challenge the bigger the reward - so just hope I’m up to it. Plus we are traveling on a couple of overnight buses to make the best use of our time so I hope I can sleep and no-one in my group snores as loud as Bobbie!! Ha ha.

Take care all, miss you loads. Ax
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Bob on

Only 6/10 I am afraid Amber. Where's the bikinis and stilettos you mentioned last time? Maybe a photo of a big erection would be good-I refer, of course, to an electricity pylon. Have fun on your travels. I think you will have enough for a book when you get back!

Kate atkins on

Hey sweet these blogs are amazing, it's just like you're here telling us all about it! I'd love to tell you some great or scary things that have happened but nothing is as exciting as what you've been up to! We're all missing you lots and Robbie and Alfie send their love, I'll inbox you to tell you all about our hols! Still loving each blog! Big hugs and kisses, Kate rob and Alfie x x

Hugh on

Hi LG. Great Blog, funny but worrying at the same time. Why are you staying in an old peoples home and going to Mexico to buy Viagra?
Sounds as if it's not to late for me to contemplate a year out travelling the World.
Keep up the good work
Lots of love
Hugh & Jen

Mr & Mrs B on

Hi you, Been following your adventures with great interest, with so much detail we feel we are wth you. Be safe & continue to enjoy the journey of a lifetime. Love V&C

Mrs P (Sue) on

Wow Amber I don;t know where you get the time to add all the entries but they are fantastic. Maybe there is a book here somewhere! Keep safe and I look forward to the next instalment. I'm keeping "the ladies" up to date with your travels. xx

planet earth on

We love San Diego! We are coming back there this Fall during their second San Diego Hotel Week event: great deals on Hotels! Definitely will go back to Balboa and visit the SD Zoo where the kids and I had a really fun time :)

Susann and Georg on

Very hard to wait for your next entry all these days. Its like reading a adventurebook. We hope you are well and have some good sleep without snoring roommates :)

have fun and take care
Susann and Georg

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