A February 2005 trip
to San Diego by Kindsis
Quote: We planned on spending a long Valentine's Day weekend in sunny San Diego. So far, it hasn't been so sunny, just rainy, but we're making the most of it, touring the area, staying at different hotels, checking out some local food, and also catching a few concerts.
Hotel | "Courtyard by Marriott - Old Town"
There’s nothing really fancy here but nothing to complain about either. The location is very handy if you're exploring Old Town. We strolled around on a Friday afternoon here, but due to the rain, almost everything around was closed, except restaurants and shops. I suppose when the weather is nicer, the location is really close to many activities.
The furnishings in this hotel are adequate. We found the bed a little too soft. The rooms are moderately sized, with a workstation, a comfortable sitting chair, and an ottoman. Free Internet access is available in every room, although it isn't wireless. Our card keys kept inactivating—basically only working one time, so each time we came back we had to get them remade. Even though it was a pain, the staff was very helpful and friendly in getting us taken care of.
The toiletries were pretty meager. There was not even any lotion, just shampoo and pretty standard harsh soap. There was no minibar or fridge here either.
I used the fitness room in the morning. It has one set of stacked weights, a treadmill, and an elliptical trainer. Unfortunately, the window doesn't open in there, so it was very stuffy, but the machines were nice and the well-maintained. There is also ice-cold water to enjoy post-workout.
We found the breakfast buffet in the restaurant to be a great deal. It was $11 for a full buffet, including an omelet and a waffle station; plenty of sweet, ripe fruit; and all the standard breakfast fare. It isn't fancy, but it tasted great, was fresh, and got us off to a good and healthy start for day two in San Diego.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 12, 2005
Courtyard San Diego Old Town
2435 Jefferson Street
San Diego, California 92110
Pluses: This Holiday Inn seems to be great for families and is centrally located for a Southern California vacation. It’s 60 minutes to Disneyland and 40 minutes to San Diego. It’s near the San Diego Wild Animal Park, Legoland, and the beach. Staff was friendly and helpful.
Minuses: Upon our return from a concert, we did find an insect in the bed and luckily just switched to the other bed in the room. Overall, the room did not seem unclean or poorly maintained.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 21, 2005
Holiday Inn Carlsbad/ Legoland
850 Palomar Airport Rd.
San Diego, California
It is one of the 'Leading Hotels of the World' and prides itself on impeccable service and European-style hospitality. Many staff members speak multiple languages, and they are extremely friendly and helpful. The front desk staff is happy to help with local information, providing trolley schedules and maps, as well as suggestions for things to do.
The accomodations are extremely comfortable and stunningly elegant. Our room was a standard king deluxe room, decorated in pink and gold with ornate draperies, bedspread, and European-style furnishings. The large window looking out onto Horton Plaza actually opens (sliding door) almost as wide as the entire room--perfect for enjoying San Diego's balmy weather and sunshine while reading the local paper from comfort of our bed.
The bathroom was very large, with a separate vanity/dressing room. The faucets and fixtures are gold, with marble sinks and floor. An oversized shower/ combination two-person soaking tub is an excellent way to enjoy the many fine Gilchrist and Soames toiletries and the plush bathrobes provided by the hotel.
Upon returning from our day trip to Tijuana by trolley, we were delighted to find our room had been serviced and turned down for nighttime, complete with chocolates on the pillow.
The hotel has many two restaurants: the higher-end Le Fountainblueu, where we enjoyed a spectacular Valentine Sunday brunch (read my separate dining entry for details) and the other, more modest restaurant, Cafe Westgate. Both have high-quality food and impeccable service.
Afternoon tea, complete with biscuits, sandwiches, and an assortment of pastries, is served daily in the richly decorated hotel lobby--which is modeled after a room in the Palace of Versailles. The lobby boasts beautiful fresh-flower arrangements, a grand piano, sparkling crystal chandeleirs, impressive antiques, and exotic tapestries and carpets. It has all this and yet is a very relaxing and inviting--not stuffy--place to rest for any traveler.
We really enjoyed our short one-night stay at the Westgate and encourage anyone traveling to San Diego to stay there. Look for mid-week specials on their website or on Hotwire.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 20, 2005
The Westgate Hotel
1055 2ND AVE
San Diego, California 92101
Restaurant | "El Agave Tequileria"
We stopped in the late afternoon seeking a respite from the rain and to have our first taste of San Diego cuisine and culture since our arrival.
Margaritas are a must here and tasted very fresh, as though they were made by hand from real ingredients instead of using a bottled mix. If you are a tequila connoisseur, or just want to sample some great tequila while on vacation, this is the spot. The tequila menu boasts over 300 varieties, with no descriptions to ease your decision, only a price. Don't worry, though, the staff will gladly help you choose one. The sipping tequila is served in an interesting tall, thin shot glass of sorts and even comes with a stand to hold it up in case you feel a little tipsy.
Along with a margarita, we also chose to split two different appetizers. One was quesadillas del pueblo, or flor de calabaza, which was a dish of pockets of deep-fried corn masa filled with delicate squash blossoms and Manchego cheese. Although these were not typical quesadillas, they were delicious and the flavors complemented each other well.
We also shared an order of tlacoyos San Diego—white corn masa patties topped with black beans, shredded chicken, onion, lettuce, and Mexican cream and dusted with fresh cheese and salsa verde. Mmmm…
Both of our appetizers were very tasty and went great with the margaritas!
The dinner menu looked delicious, although a bit on the expensive side (entrées $20 to $28), but judging from our appetizers, it probably wouldn't disappoint.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 12, 2005
2304 San Diego Avenue
San Diego, California 92110
The menu consists mostly of organic and vegetarian fare, tofu, tempeh, black beans, and the like. They had sandwiches, falafel, dolmas, and burritos. Since the "Caribbean" part of their sign is what caught our eye, we opted for the Caribbean-style burritos. He had the ground turkey with plantains, rice, black beans, and cheese. Mine was grilled chicken with plantains, black beans, and cheese, both in whole-wheat tortillas. The chicken burrito had a very sweet flavor from the plantains; the turkey burrito was more savory. They were both good, and we couldn’t finish the whole thing.
Probably the best part about the Mozy Café was sitting there, watching the employees and imagining what kind of lives they lead. The woman who took our order had blue hair, the man decorating the patio for that night’s party looked like he just took a break from surfing, and there were many holistic mind/body/spirit-type advertisements on a table near the door. It certainly served up very California-style food, from people who had a very healthy, outdoorsy, surfing, new-agey lifestyle. We felt the experience was an authentic one.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on February 21, 2005
698 North Coast Hwy
San Diego, California
Attraction | "Catching Some Music at Winston's in OB"
The bar itself is nothing to write home about. The space-like paintings on the ceiling are interesting, but the best part about Winston’s is the killer line-up of music they are routinely bringing in there. It’s definitely the place to see live music in Ocean Beach.
Benefits: It’s always happy hour unless there is a show (and before the show). The bartender was friendly and attentive. There are good choices of beer on tap. There is room to dance and a nice dance floor. There are also tables if you'd like to sit down.
Drawbacks: Ocean Beach doesn’t really seem to be a place for tourists. It’s hard to get a cab out of there, and the streets are pretty dead at night around there. If you’re catching a show there, I’d recommend planning to go to dinner elsewhere and not planning on catching a bite next door. It’s not that easy.
Winston's Beach Club
1921 Bacon Street
San Diego, California 92107
After entering through the gift shop, with someone for every music lover in your life, you begin the exhibit with instruments and information about music style from 1890. As you walk through the musuem, you also travel through time musically, with interactive exhibits and displays of instruments and musical styles as they develop up to the present day. It was fun to play samples of music I didn't know about, as well and dance and sing along to '80s tunes.
There were some really impressive instruments, including the Leo, which is like a huge synthesizer/hammond organ. See the picture.
The last exhibit room has instruments, such as an electric bass, a theramin, turn tables, electric guitar, an organ, and a midi computer synthesizer to play yourself. Most of the instruments had someone playing them, so I didn't try any myself.
They also have a great website with photos and examples: http://www.museumofmakingmusic.org
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 22, 2005
Museum of Making Music
5790 Armada Drive
Carlsbad, California 92008