Wednesday, June 30, 2010

San Diego

San Diego

From Anaheim to San Diego

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San Diego is a modern city on the Southern California seacoast, the second largest city in the state, known for its ideal climate, miles of beaches, and location on the Mexican border, right across from Tijuana. It has a rich heritage built around sailing and is home to the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy. It is 3-hour drive south of Los Angeles.

(i) Downtown or Centre City (Gaslamp Quarter)

- The central business district of the city, downtown is also a hub of nightlife and has many attractions.
Centre City is dense enough that it can be usually be easily walked. Certain intersections (basically anything along Harbor Drive) can feel a little risky with the high volume of cars, but for the most part walking is quite safe, even at night. Just keep in mind that Downtown is fairly large, so if you're planning on hoofing it from Little Italy to PETCO Park, keep in mind it's a long walk.
• San Diego Maritime Museum – Home to a collection of 19th century sailing ships including the Star of India, the world's oldest active sailing ship, as well as a steam ferryboat and a former Soviet Union attack submarine.
• USS Midway Museum*** – A former aircraft carrier of the US Navy, it is now open for tours and home to a collection of former naval aircraft housed on her expansive flight deck. Guided tours and displays offer the public a unique look into the life aboard a powerful, old warhorse.

(ii) Balboa Park-Hillcrest(San Diego Zoo)

Located in the heart of the city, Balboa is a massive urban parkland, home to many amazing museums and the renowned San Diego Zoo. Next door is Hillcrest, a trendy urban neighborhood. It is north of Downtown. Balboa Park is a massive urban park with beautiful open spaces, gardens and vegetation, the renowned San Diego Zoo, the historic Old Globe Theatre, and numerous museums.
Note: Parking lots are located throughout Balboa Park. There are two large parking lots in the park. One is for the San Diego Zoo and one is at Inspiration Point (on the east side of Park Boulevard north of Presidents Way), which is served by a free tram which connects the lot to many of the museums in Balboa Park. The tram runs 8:30AM-6PM daily, with extended hours during the summer. On-street metered parking is also available and can be paid for with coins and pre-paid Parking Meter Cards

(iii) Old Town-Mission Valley

Old Town is the site of the original settlement of San Diego. Nearby is Mission Valley, a major commercial center situated along the San Diego River, that is home to several shopping centers, Qualcomm Stadium . Old Town-Mission Valley is an area of San Diego, consisting of Old Town, the birthplace of San Diego that is now an incredibly popular tourist attraction.

Fashion Valley, 7007 Friars Rd,
M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 11AM-7PM. Nearly 200 stores and restaurants, including several department stores and a movie theater.

Mission San Diego de Alcala. – Located in Mission Valley. Mission San Diego is the oldest of the California missions.

Note: Free guided walking tours of Old Town depart daily at 11AM and 2PM from the Robinson-Rose House visitor center at 4002 Wallace St.

(iv) Point Loma-Ocean Beach
Located on a peninsula jutting out into the ocean, this area is home to gorgeous views of San Diego, beautiful scenery, and lovely beachfront neighborhoods.

(v) Mission Beach-Pacific Beach (Sea World)
The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) ], San Diego's public transit service, has a few bus routes serving the area: the Route 8/9 loops through Mision Beach and Pacific Beach, connecting to Old Town to the south.
Two popular beach communities with plenty of shops, restaurants, and nightlife, alongside a man-made inlet known as Mission Bay, home to Sea World, 500 SeaWorld Drive. Hours vary by season and day of week; typically 9AM-11PM in summer. A massive (200 acres) marine animal theme park with rides, lots of sea animals (dolphins, sea otters, arctic creatures, sharks, penguins, rays, manatees, etc.) and of course, shows of killer whales like Shamu. $65 adults, $55 children under age 10, free for children under age 3 (parking $10 for cars, $15 for RVs and campers, and $6 for motorcycles).

(vi) La Jolla
An upscale beach community that's almost a separate city from San Diego and the locale of the University of California at San Diego (UCSD).

(vii) Mid-City
Treated here as a region of the city, mid-city is composed of many urban and suburban neighborhoods in the heights of eastern San Diego.

(viii) Northeastern
Also treated here as a region of the city, Northeastern is composed of many suburban neighborhoods stretching far to the north, with a few scattered attractions.

(ix) San Ysidro
Home to the world's busiest land border crossing, where one can travel between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. The South Bay region of San Diego County is bounded by Downtown San Diego to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the international border with Mexico to the south, and the Otay Lakes to the east. The largest city in this area is Chula Vista, which is the second largest in the county behind San Diego

6/6/2010(Monday) Anaheim- San Diego(Arrival)

The bus arrived at Santa Fe Deport. Amtrak operates from the historic Santa Fe Depot, located in downtown at 1050 Kettner Blvd. The station is the southern terminus of Amtrak's frequent Pacific Surfliner route, which runs north to Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo. The depot is within walking distance of downtown hotels and situated near San Diego Bay. There is even trolley station in the train station.

From the Santa Fe Station, we took the Red Line trolley from railway station to the Fashion Valley Transit Center station, Old Town. There is a connection bus to Mission Valley where our hotel is located. Our hotel is Days Hotel at 543, Hotel Circle South, San Diego. This is a good hotel with clean and comfortable room. There is swimming pool and free shuttle bus to San Diego Zoo and Sea World. Being in the Mission Valley, in the Old Town, it is also easy access to the tourist destination of Old Town, the old San Diego by public transport. Bus service and Trolleys are well connected to the place. We have try bus, trolley, hotel shuttle to the destination in San Diego. The only disadvantage is breakfast is not provide, we paid for our breakfast.

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Downtown- Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego has some heritage buildings in downtown, it had been converted to Gaslamp Quarter. It is eight blocks long (from Broadway to Harbor Drive) and two blocks wide (from Fourth to Sixth Avenues) But between Market St to J Street, it is from 2nd Avenue to 6th Avenue. I personally divided Gaslamp Quarter into 3 areas.

(i)Broadway - Broadway is the north border and Market St is the south border, between 4th Avenue to 6th avenue
(ii) Market Street - Market Street is the north border, and J Street is south border, between 2nd Avenue to 6th Avenue
(iii)J Street - between 4th to 6th Avenue, with north border at J Street(include K Street)and the South at Harbor Drive.

Gaslamp Quarter is home to a number of historic Victorian-era buildings, such as the Louis Bank of Commerce, the Backesto Building, the Old City Hall, the Yuma Building, and a whole bunch of other beautiful old structures. The Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation, headquartered in the William Heath Davis House at 410 Island Avenue offers information for self-guided tours of the district as well as a guided walking tour of the district that leaves from the Davis House every Saturday at 11AM. Tours cost $10 adults, $8 seniors/students/military. Admission to the William Heath Davis House is $5 adults, $4 seniors. The Davis House is open Tu-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 9AM-3PM. We have no opportunity to follow the guided tour as the time schedule is not convenience for us. However we did our own walking tour in downtown, a very enjoying walk.

Horton Plaza
A massive five-story outdoor shopping mall unique for its appearance, with lots of bright colors, architectural tricks, and interesting spaces. Even if you're not planning on doing any shopping, it's worth coming here just to see the place. Horton Plaza contains nearly 200 stores and restaurants, including a couple of department stores, a food court on the 4th floor, and entertainment options such as a movie theater. From March to October, a farmer's market takes place every Thursday from 11AM-3PM on the square just north of the mall.

Before it was redeveloped as a shopping center, Horton Plaza was an actual plaza: a grassy area surrounded by banks of plants and flowers, standing in stark contrast to the buildings around it. It was named for Alonzo Horton, who was largely responsible for the location of downtown San Diego. In the 1960s and 1970s the plaza was a major public transit center, with most public buses that entered downtown having stops there. The entire area was run down by the 1960s, and the plaza was home to a substantial homeless population. Despite the poor condition of the plaza, initial plans to redevelop it into a shopping center were met with some skepticism and resistance.

Horton Plaza was an instant financial success, with 25 million visitors in the first year. Twenty years after opening, it continues to generate the city's highest sales per unit area, in the range of $600 to $700 per square foot ($6500 to $7500/m²)). From an urban planning standpoint, Horton Plaza is a civic asset that generates pedestrian traffic and shares it with a number of contiguous destinations, paving the way for the revitalization of the Gaslamp District.

We took a trolley back to Mission Valley at late night. The trolley station at was surprisingly having two uniform police personnel guarding at the station. This revealed the security situation after 10 pm at San Diego, which is a border city. San Diego is very close to Mexico border, there may be illegal immigrants around. With the poor economic condition in the nation, the unemployed and homeless people are increasing. We can see homeless people in the downtown. San Diego is considered to be one of the safest cities in California. But tourist is advised to avoid walking in Southeast San Diego or Barrio Logan (near or under the Coronado bridge) at night. If you do or must, avoid walking down dark alleyways or approaching unknown people.

7/6/2010(Tuesday) San Diego( Sea World)

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Sea World. – Home of Shamu. SeaWorld San Diego is an animal theme park, oceanarium, and marine mammal park, located in San Diego, California. Located at 500 SeaWorld Drive, San Diego. The park is owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, a division of The Blackstone Group. SeaWorld San Diego opened on March 21, 1964 with much success. It was the first SeaWorld park to ever open. The park features shows such as Believe, the current Shamu show and Sea Lions Live, a comedic show with sea lions and otters. Rides include Journey to Atlantis, a splashdown ride that also has characteristics of a roller coaster. The Summer Nights program changes some shows and adds others. One show featuring Shamu is available during the night called Shamu Rocks, a rock concert choreographed to Shamu, and then the fireworks show Into the Blue, which uses music from the newest dolphin show Blue Horizons.

Sea World San Diego allows visitors a chance to interact with aquatic animals in an exciting way. Through shows, displays and enclosures people can learn about the worlds oceans and the creatures that inhabit them.

SeaWorld's main attraction is its orcas, several of which are housed in 7 million gallon habitats that are each known as Shamu Stadium. Shamu was the name of the first orca brought to SeaWorld San Diego in the 1960s. "Shamu" is now used as a stage name for adult Orcas in performances at SeaWorld parks. The Orcas all have individual names. Seven orcas live at SeaWorld San Diego: Corky, Kasatka, Ulises, Orkid, Sumar, Nakai, and Kalia

There are three species of dolphins at SeaWorld San Diego,including a Common dolphin, along with both Atlantic/Pacific Bottlenose dolphins and Commerson's dolphins. The Bottlenose dolphins may rotate between Blue Horizons, Rocky Point Preserve, and the Dolphin Interaction Program. The Commerson's dolphins live at an exhibit near Journey to Atlantis.

SeaWorld features Walruses at both Sea Lion & Otter Stadium as well as wild Arctic.

SeaWorld's Penguin Encounter exhibit features over 300 penguins representing eight different species. It is only one of two places in the world where Emperor penguins are kept in captivity, including the only successful captive breeding program.

SeaWorld San Diego has two species of toothed-whales:

Pacific short-finned pilot whales: Bubbles, Shadow and Sully, a young male that was rescued, but unable to be returned to the wild.

Beluga whales: Allua (originally housed in Vancouver, BC at the Vancouver Aquarium), Ferdinand, Nanuq, and Ruby.

SeaWorld's Wild Arctic exhibit is home to three polar bears: Charly (M), Szenja (F), and Snowflake (F). Charly and Szenja were acquired from a zoological park in Germany. Snowflake hails from Buffalo, New York.

We have good time at SeaWorld, seeing most of the exhibits and shows. Shamu, the orca is the main attraction. But we feel that SeaWorld is also a oceanic theme park, the place is similar to other theme parks, they are profit making business with captive animals. Some shows are also focus more on the human centered story, rather than let the animals doing the show in their natural ways, and more animal centered.

Organizations such as the World Society for the Protection of Animals and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society campaign against the captivity of dolphins and Orca; SeaWorld, which owns most of the world's captive Orca, is cited for its role. Orca are known to have a shorter lifespan in captivity than in the wild, though for bottlenose dolphins this does not appear to be the case. Small pools have caused sensory deprivation, in which dolphins cannot make much use of echolocation while living in captivity. The sea animals become aggressive, and causing the death of some trainers and the animals. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 21 orcas died in U.S. Seaworld parks between 1986 and 2000; all died at a far younger age than the average age they reach in the wild. According to PETA(People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), orcas swim as far as 100 miles each day in their natural habitat and keeping them in small concrete enclosures where they must perform tricks to receive food can aggrivate the animals making further human casualties an inevitability.

Maybe it is better to watch National Geography documentary than visiting marine theme park?...... need to rethink over it.....

8/6/2010(Wednesday) San Diego - San Diego Zoo - San Francisco
San Diego Zoo

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San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is in Balboa Park, San Diego, California, is one of the largest and most progressive zoos in the world, with over 4,000 animals of more than 800 species. It is also one of the few zoos in the world that houses the giant panda. It is privately operated by the nonprofit Zoological Society of San Diego on 107 acres (0.43 km2) of parkland leased from the City of San Diego, and ownership of all animals, equipment and other assets rests with the City of San Diego.

It is located at 2920 Zoo Drive (off of Park Blvd at Zoo Place), 9AM–4PM (extended hours in the summer). $35 adults, $26 children, free for children under three (includes Guided Bus Tour and Bus/Aerial Tram rides; multi-park passes including admission to the San Diego Wild Animal Park and Sea World are also available).

An absolutely enormous and world-renowned zoological institution, the San Diego Zoo showcases more than 4,000 rare and endangered animals, including many exotic animals from all over the world, such as apes, hippos, polar bears, tigers, bears, lions, elephants, koalas, kangaroos, zebras, reptiles, hundreds of species of birds, and a whole lot of species of animals that are less well-known. The San Diego Zoo also has one of the largest populations of giant pandas outside of Asia.

The many expansive and well-designed exhibits throughout the park provide a natural setting for the zoo's animals, such as large bird aviaries, Polar Bear Plunge (a large arctic area), Ituri Forest (an African rain forest), Panda Research Station, Tiger River, Absolutely Apes, Wings of Australia, Reptile Mesa, a Children's Zoo (with a lot of farm animals), and many more specialized areas. The terrain of the park, with plateaus, steep canyons, and wide flat areas, creates an expansive setting with many hidden corners and less-beaten paths.

The zoo is so large that you really need to devote several hours to seeing it all. Visiting in the summer has the benefit of extended hours. Buses provide a way to get around the zoo. A special guided bus tour using double-decker buses takes you around
that traverses 75% of the park, without stopping. The Express Buses (both double and single-decker) allow you to get on and off in different parts of the zoo. There is an overhead gondola lift called the Skyfari, providing an aerial view of the zoo. The Skyfari was built in 1969 by the Von Roll tramway company of Bern, Switzerland. The San Diego Zoo Skyfari is a Von Roll type 101. If you decide to walk around, moving walkways make traversing some of the steeper sections easier.

The San Diego Zoo is one of the world's few major zoos to have almost all of its major exhibits be open-air; in fact, the only major exhibition building on grounds is the Reptile House

The main attractions are:
Panda Research Station
Polar Bear Plunge
Ituri Forest Based upon the real Ituri Forest in Africa, this exhibit houses different animal species from the forests of Africa.
Elephant Odyssey


After the visit to the Zoo, we took the shuttle back to the hotel, and prepared for our trip to San Francisco. The hotel again provide us the shuttle service to Greyhound bus station at Downtown.

We arrived at the Greyhound bus station, 120 West Broadway, San Diego, and met a friendly security guard, who volunteer to take care of the luggage. He even tell us the story of San Diego and recommend to us to have a tour of waterfront and have seafood dinner at The Fish Market before we leave San Diego. We walk along West Broadway from the bus station, on the way we passed Downtown YMCA, Meseum of Contemporary Art(where the trolley will go through the museum), and Santa Fe Depot, until arrive at the Pacific Highway, cross the road and continue until North Harbor Drive junction, turn left and walk along N Harbor Drive. The USS Midway Museum is on the right just opposite the US Navy Department

San Diego Bay - San Diego Harbor: Port of San Diego

The Port of San Diego is a self-supporting Non-governmental organization public benefit corporation established in 1962 by an act of the California State Legislature. The Port of San Diego manages the harbor and administers the public lands adjacent to the bay. The Port is a special government entity created by the state legislature in 1962, for which revenue consists of tariffs and rents paid by district tenants.

The Embarcadero in San Diego, California, USA is the area along the San Diego harbor on the east side of San Diego Bay. "Embarcadero" is a Spanish word meaning "landing place". The Embarcadero sits on property administered by the Port of San Diego, in the Columbia district of Downtown San Diego.

The Embarcadero is home to the San Diego cruise ship terminal, the USS Midway museum ship at Navy Pier, the Star of India and seven other historic vessels belonging to the San Diego Maritime Museum, and various restaurants and shops from the North Embarcadero down through Seaport Village. The Port is redeveloping the historic Broadway Pier to create a second cruise-ship pier and terminal. That project is slated for completion in December 2010.

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USS Midway Museum – A former aircraft carrier of the US Navy, it is now open for tours and home to a collection of former naval aircraft housed on her expansive flight deck. Guided tours and displays offer the public a unique look into the life aboard a powerful, old warhorse

Next to USS Midway Museum is the famous Unconditional Surrender sculpture. The new Bob Hope memorial plaza is near to it, beside The Fish Market restaurant.

Unconditional Surrender Statue

One of the most famous photographs ever published by Life Magazine, “V"J day in Times Square” was shot in Times Square on August 14, 1945 by Alfred Eisenstaedt who was in the square taking candid’s when he spotted a sailor "running along the street grabbing any and every girl in sight. Then suddenly he saw something white being grabbed. Eisenstaedt turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse. The photo was shot just south of 45th Street looking north from a location where Broadway and Seventh Avenue converge. (Today, the spot where the kiss took place is on the small island separating Broadway and Seventh Avenue between the Toys R Us and MTV studios in Times Square.)

In 2005 American sculptor Seward Johnson created a 25 foot scale bronze sculpture based on the Alfred Jorgensen photograph of "V-J Day in Times Square”, titled Unconditional Surrender. Seward Johnson or MR. J or SJ is an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, who has been creating his art for more than 30 years. The sculpture memorializes the moment, but adds new meaning to the scene with its three dimensional depiction allowing for the viewer to walk full circle around the kissing couple The version of the 3-D sculpture Old School saw today has been on display in San Diego, CA, Snug Harbor, NY and Sarasota, FL.

Unconditional Surrender was previously displayed in New York City in 2005 and Sarasota, Fla. in 2006. The statue made its way here, and will stand at the G Street Mole Park for duration of 2007 before traveling to its next home. The statue is owned by the Sculpture Foundation of Santa Monica, Calif., and is on loan to the Port of San Diego.

The statue was dedicated to the City of San Diego and unveiled on 10th FEB 2010. "Unconditional Surrender" is on temporary loan to the port of San Diego, so it may not be here forever.

Unconditional Surrender Statue
Tuna Lane, San Diego, CA
N. Harbor Dr. to W G St to Tuna Lane. Next to the aircraft carrier.

Bob Hope Plaza

Bob Hope, the beloved figure who serenaded millions of men and women in the Armed Forced for more than five decades with his signature song, "Thanks for the Memories," is still making memories.

On July 8, 2009, the dedication of a military artwork: “A National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military,” which includes a bronze sculpture of the famed entertainer and 15 life-sized bronze figures representing the 5 branches of the military – the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. The 15 sculptures were installed in the park in late 2006, while the Bob Hope figure was still in production. He is now immortalized in bronze, he is still making memories....

A National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military, made up of 16 bronze sculptures designed to represent one of the famous actor’s typical road shows. Hope’s first military tour took place in World War II and his final show took place during the 1990 Persian Gulf War. The inspiration and planning for these works were a Navy veteran’s group known as Task Unit 77.4.3/Taffy 3.

The artwork is located at the Port of San Diego’s G Street Mole, south of the USS Midway Museum.

The Fish Market
The bustling Fish Market at the end of the G Street Pier on the Embarcadero is a San Diego institution. Chalkboards announce the day's catches -- be it Mississippi catfish, Maine lobster, Canadian salmon, or Mexican yellowtail -- which are sold by the pound or available in a number of classic, simple preparations in the casual, always-packed restaurant. Upstairs, the fancy offshoot Top of the Market offers sea fare with souped-up presentations (and jacked-up prices). Either way, the fish come from the same trough, so I recommend having a cocktail in Top's plush, clubby atmosphere to enjoy the panoramic bay views, and then heading downstairs for more affordable fare or treats from the sushi and oyster bars.

The Fish Market
750 N. Harbor Dr
San Diego, CA 92101

We really enjoyed the waterfront, but was not able to walk to the pier area. As time is short for us, we need to walk back to bus station. Before our departure, the friendly security guard informed us that as the trip to San Francisco will stopped at Los Angeles bus station, which is very crowded and with high security risk, he advised us to be careful there. Greyhound Lines operates a major bus terminal in Downtown Los Angeles at the intersection of Seventh and Alameda streets. The area bounded by 3rd Street, 7th Street, Alameda Street and Main Street is often referred to as "Skid Row" or "the Nickel" and has one of the largest homeless populations in the United States. The Greyhound Station is located here, but the area is unsafe for pedestrians regardless of the time of day. We really thankful for the reminder.....

It is sad to say goodbye to San Diego, such a nice place, we have not enough time to cover the city. We focus more on SeaWorld and San Diego Zoo, which are all full day trip. San Diego is more than Zoo or SeaWorld, it has beautiful beaches and waterfront....

Related articles:

1. “Unconditional Surrender” a Bronze Sculpture by Seward Johnson,
2. WWII Commemorative Statue Unveiled In San Diego, by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman David A. Brandenburg, Fleet Public Affairs Center Pacific
3. A Tribute to Bob Hope: Thanks for the Memories,
4. Walking Tour: Downtown Waterfront: San Diego's scenic Embarcadero is the essence of the city
5. Debbie Leahy: Just maybe, worry about the whales?(2010), by DEBBIE LEAHY

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