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Tijuana Mexico

Louise Speaks:  How can you go to San Diego for a weekend and not take a trip to Tijuana?  Well I hadn’t been there for over 35 years so we said what the heck.  My daughter joined us on this trip so it made for an even better journey.  The trip started when my daughter noticed that my passport had expired…not good when you’re headed for Mexico…But after talking to the tour company, they assured me that all would be okay.  Everyone was nervous, including me, but I was up for a new adventure and figured this is was a good way to start.

Tijuana  www.tijuana.com    is the most visited border city in the globe;  and is approximately   15 miles from its sister city of San Diego.  Over fifty million people annually cross the border between these two cities.  This metropolitan crossing makes the San Yisidro Port of Entry the busiest land-border crossing in the world.  It is estimated that the two border crossing stations between the cities  of San Diego and Tijuana account for 300,000 daily border crossings alone.  Tijuana is a very commercial town as well as a border town.  There are major hotels and other restaurants besides the shops and venders you meet on the streets.  The tour took us to the part of Tijuana that tourists want to see…to make you feel like you are in Mexico when San Diego is just up the street.

The bus dropped us off in the center of town and told us to have a good time and be back in four hours.  Easy enough…what could possibly happen in 4 hours?  You got it…absolutely nothing.  Tijuana is a highly Catholic populated town as is any Mexican city.   In the four city block town that we strolled through there were several large, and I do mean cathedral large churches.  There didn’t seem to be that many people to warrant so many large churches, but then again we didn’t tour the entire town.  I’m sure if we had gone into the commercial Americanized part of town we would have seen more businesses and more people.  We were taken to the tourist trap….the part where vendors follow you asking you to buy their goods.

We did do our fair share of shopping, and eating, and of course how can you pass up $3 Margarita?  I will say though, that the people of Tijuana have done a great job cleaning up the town and making it tourist friendly.  The streets were clean, the people were friendly and the churros were excellent, did I say how good a     $3 Margarita can be?  We did see the worms in all the bottles of tequilla but we passed on that activity.

I did manage to cross the border without any problems, even with an expired passport…not something I’d recommend but it all worked out okay.  Although this was a fun way to spend an afternoon, I think a trip every 35 years is good enough.  I enjoyed the sites and it was great weather to walk around, we did get some good deals,  but I think I would have preferred a day at the beach.  That being said I would rate this stop a C.

Thelma Speaks: Hum…well it was fun to have company on this out of country adventure for sure!  The bus driver made the trip a great adventure and I would suggest taking the bus down to the city.  We saw huge churches and tons of people while walking into shops that were full of tourist collectibles.  My favorite was not shopping but seeing the people and how they were trying to make a living. They work hard to keep business coming into their shop.  A picture with a burro has to be taken on the corner and we were no exception!  The day was okay but not a place to spend days or for that matter more than a couple of hours.  Oh did we say sitting at the bar and waiting for the bus to go back to the USA was a great way to spend some time with the $3 margarita?

Did I say the bus driver was fantastic, the people were friendly but… the day was not a wonderful adventure so I would rate this stop a C-.


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La Jolla California

Louise Speaks:  Talk about money!  No wonder why La Jolla www.lajollabythesea.com is known as the California Riviera.  With 7 miles of gorgeous shore line and dramatic cliffs it makes for a stunning endowment.  La Jolla means “the jewel” and the jewel it is.  The city is packed with fancy shops, restaurants, and  resorts to satisfy everyone from the sun worshiper to the golfer, and don’t forget the honeymooners. La Jolla had the highest home prices in the nation in 2008 and 2009; the average price of a standardized four-bedroom home in La Jolla was reported as  $1.8 million in 2008 and $2.1 million in 2009.

It doesn’t hurt that it’s always beach season in La Jolla.  La Jolla is surrounded on three sides by ocean bluffs and beaches.  Life centers around the coastal treasures of La Jolla Cove, the most photographed niche in town.  Currently the cove is home to hundreds of sea lions.  You will find protesters handing out flyers on their fight to save the sea lions.  However, attend a town meeting and you will find hundreds of residents begging the city to take the sea lions out to sea so they can have their swim haven back.  Since La Jolla Cove is part of the La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, no harm is to be done to any plant or animal.  It is going to be a long battle to see who wins.

With the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) nearby, students take advantage of the renowned Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the Birch Aquarium.  Surfing is big here, and although the book “1000 Places To See Before You Die” list an all girl Surf School, we did not visit the school on this trip, however, we may on a return trip to La Jolla.

Golfers from around the world know La Jolla as the home of many famous golf courses as well as many PGA golf tournaments. Famous golfers like Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson frequent the well-known Torrey Pines Golf Course.  This course also mentioned in Patricia’s book was not one of our stops on this trip, but maybe next time.

La Jolla is also visited often by theater buffs.  The La Jolla Playhouse has had performers like Gregory Peck perform there.  The playhouse has earned an international reputation for launching productions that go on to become major Broadway hits.

If La Jolla begins to feel like it’s too good to be true, it isn’t.  There is a place here for everyone.  There is great cuisine to fit every budget, hotel accommodations that won’t break the bank, and find a rooftop terrace where a million-dollar sunset is free.  I personally love La Jolla.  The beach is peaceful, the town is quaint, and the sea air is a constant breeze.  The climate is mild with an average daily temperature of 70.5 °F.  People come to La Jolla for many reason.  Some are here for an extended vacation, and for many, that vacation still hasn’t ended. La Jolla is one of the best beach spots in Southern California, I am one of the ones that doesn’t want to leave.  That being said I would rate it an A+

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Thelma Speaks:  It was my first trip to La Jolla.  I hadn’t seen the tables set along the walkway with protesters as you walked to the beach to see the sea lions.  Who will win this battle?  I loved watching the sea lions and could have spent more time enjoying the calm of the beach.  I can see there needs to be more time spent walking the streets and seeing what the shops had to offer.  The flavor of the city was warm and friendly with performing buildings scattered about town.  Wonder who has played in these tucked away treasures?  The golf course looks green and lush ready for a game of golf!  There are plenty of places to stop and have a meal or just a cool drink with friends.  The town seemed peaceful and ready for visitors be it a day or years to linger and enjoy.  The light breeze was calm and made you wish you had time to sit and watch the waves go by while enjoying a good book.  I can see a return trip to La Jolla in our future! 

 I will agree Louise,  La Jolla is a place to enjoy a day or years and would rate it as an A+


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Balboa Park, and The San Diego Zoo, San Diego, California

Louise Speaks: Balboa Park, www.balboapark.org   is really a park surrounded by many museums and fun things to do.  The best way to start your time in Balboa Park is with a stop at the Balboa Park Visitors Center. The Visitors Center has the most current and comprehensive information about the Park’s activities and attractions.  Some attractions change daily so this stop could be valuable.  Balboa Park Central, a non-profit organization,  operates the Visitors Center and many of the   programs on the grounds of Balboa Park.

Balboa Park: the nation’s largest urban cultural park is home to 15 major museums, renowned performing arts venues, beautiful gardens and the San Diego Zoo.  The Park has an ever-changing calendar of museum exhibitions, plays, musicals, concerts, and classes—all in the beautiful and timeless setting of this must-see San Diego attraction

Balboa Park began as 1400 acres of land set aside in 1868 by San Diego civic leaders. Known then as “City Park”, the scrub-filled mesa that overlooked present day Downtown San Diego sat without formal landscaping or development for more than 20 years  (Today the Park’s total land parcel has been reduced to 1,200 acres.)  The first steps in Park beautification were made in 1892, largely due to the contributions of Kate Sessions. Sessions offered to plant 100 trees a year within the Park as well as donate trees and shrubs around San Diego in exchange for 32 acres of land within the Park boundaries to be used for her commercial nursery. Several popular species, including the birds of paradise, queen palm and poinsettia were introduced into the Park’s horticulture because of Sessions’ early efforts. In fact, many of her original trees are alive and visible today.  It is no wonder that Kate Sessions earned the title “The Mother of Balboa Park” at the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.

The museums soon followed and now include The Balboa Art Conservation Center, The Museum of Photographic Arts,  The Museum of San Diego History & Archives, The San Diego Model Railroad Museum, shown here,  The House of Charm, The San Diego Art Institute and The Museum of the Living Artist.  Many theaters can also been found in Balboa Park including  the  San Diego Civic Youth Ballet,  San Diego Floral Association, San Diego Junior Theater and the San Diego Youth Symphony.

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The most visited attraction of Balboa Park is the San Diego Zoo  www.sandiegozoo.org  .  This is not your101_0319 traditional zoo and it has set the standards for zoos around the world.  The grounds are well-tended, there are up to the minute visits to many exhibits and wildlife conservation experiences.  Every corner of the park is gorgeous, clean and expansive enough to almost make you feel happy.

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There are approximately 4,000 enclosed animals representing 800 species who call this 100 acre zoo home.  One of the most popular exhibits are the giant pandas.  Other popular residents are the orangutans and the siamangs of Indonesia.  There is also a prominent botanical collection with more than 700,000 exotic plants.

No doubt about it the grounds of Balboa Park are incredible.  As you will hear me say time and time again, I am NOT a museum person, so walking around the grounds with nothing but buildings, that charge an admission, was not high on my list.  The zoo however is worth seeing.  The Pandas are a once in a life time viewing.  My favorite animal is the Koala Bear and the San Diego Zoo has a Koala habitat so I could have stayed there all day.  My overall rating would be a C+, a fun place to go but not a have to see.

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Thelma Speaks:  If you have children the museums are a wonderful way to show them  famous works of art and performers.  You will see many different events as well as those performing along the sidewalks as you stroll through the park.  Some of the events are costly but are well worth the money. Plan to spend a half day at least to just scratch the top of any one of the museums.  Inside each is full of various exhibits as well as many have hands on activities to involve you in the art.   The park is green and lush with different plants and trees.  You can find food as well as entertainment with in the park so plan to spend time in your favorite museum! There are so many to choose from that one trip is not enough.    I give the museums a B+ because you can learn and see so many famous exhibits.

Everyone loves the San Diego Zoo and it too changes with new additions.  I have never been disappointed by a day at the San Diego Zoo! There is always the ride through the park to see the new exhibits and additions.  Food is available so you can spend the day. The shops are open with souvenirs and snacks.  What better way to spend time with different animals and enjoy the outdoors than the San Diego Zoo?  Besides how many plants did Louise say they had?  Now speaking of Louise, she has picked the Koala Bear as her favorite  but I was there the day the new baby Panda  made its first day out on exhibit. That was scary!  I was standing right in front of them as it happened.  So I say the Panda’s are one of my favorite but, I love animals so there really aren’t any I don’t enjoy watching!  I give the Zoo an A because you see so many different plants and animals in one setting.   The Balboa Park gets an overall B+ and a definite place to go for a learning experience while having a wonderful time in a beautiful park!