So, after an expensive first week in Los Angeles - so many Ubers, so many pampering treatments, so many birthday treats - we decided to take it down a notch for the next leg of our California trip.
When we first booked our California trip, we'd heard that a great way to travel from LA to San Diego, was to take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, as the journey takes in much of the Pacific Coast. The journey is just under three hours long, and, if you like lots of free snacks, you'll love the Amtrak. We opted for business seats, which basically meant lots more leg room, and less people in your carriage - definitely not your usual, packed-like-sardines commuter train, despite the fact that there are 11 services running daily between LA and SD - but don't quote me on the non-business seat situation. As the BF and I are avid people watchers, we enjoyed the view of the sunshine sparkling across the sea, as well as the various characters who appeared at each stop along the way.
Once we arrived at the main train station in San Diego, we booked an Uber. It was an interesting ride - the driver was keen to give us his recommendations as to what to do in San Diego, mostly very tourist-y things, like the zoo, that we filed away for a future date, i.e. never. He also made sure to tell us to never go to Oakland, because it was, wait for it, full of Mexicans. The fact that we are non-white people who probably won't have the same kind of thought process about other non-white people, was lost on the Uber driver. Who, by the way, was an Iranian immigrant. *confused sigh*
So we arrived at our Airbnb, a cute guest house at the back of a large house, owned by a stylish young couple. I say stylish because there were tons of tiny stylistic details to the guest house, including some amazing golden Egyptian-influenced winged taps. The downside of the place - which was my fault, for not booking early enough - was that it was nowhere big enough for a couple carrying major luggage, and definitely not suitable for an entire week. The one area where clothing was intended to be hung - above a desk, bizarrely - collapsed once I hung two of the BF's shirts on it. There was also nowhere at all to cook, which really didn't help when it came to the cutting back on expenses part of the trip. But hey, it is what it is, and we got on with it.
I'd already explained to the BF that the San Diego week would have to be a working week for me, as I had a client magazine to work on. It was a shame really, because our initial San Diego trip was intended to be a week of yoga and the beach; I'd even set up a cool interview with a British woman who had set up her own yoga sanctuary out there, but when it came down to it, working for yourself sometimes means that you can't do every single thing that you want to do. Not in the timeframe you want to, anyway.
Our Airbnb was situated near University Heights, a very new-looking part of town that had so many amazing options for eating and mooching. We soon settled comfortably into a routine of morning treks around the beautiful Balboa Park - we steered clear of the area that houses the San Diego zoo and other popular buildings; the park is huge, 1200 acres, so it's easy to get a good workout in and never see a tourist. After the park we'd head to Twiggs almost daily; it's the cosiest cafe ever, probably what all cafes should be. No, it isn't modern, and yes, it has its fair share of Mac users with headphones - including me - but it also has people of every age passing through its doors. I loved listening in to a group of elderly regulars while they chatted, and I also made a friend there who I've been in contact with since. The first thing I fell in love with was the fact that they did almond milk lattes - something that is currently not offered in the UK. I don't do dairy (unless it's the odd bit of Greek yoghurt or irresistible cheese) and I hate soya milk - it does not make a great coffee, dammit. They also did an amazing pesto veggie sandwich and way too many good cookies and cakes to mention.
As well as Twiggs, Plumeria, a Thai restaurant also became our regular thing. Trust me, the food here was just amazing. You don't need to be a veggie or vegan to appreciate the work that the chef puts in, because honestly, it's a must-visit. Ever since we got back we've been trying to recreate the flavours - last night I made my version of their curried rice - and it's no wonder, as we ate there are least four times over the seven days we were in San Diego. Another great place was Red House Pizza, a place that offers plenty of choice for meat eaters and vegans alike. It was also where I had my first vegan pizza ever and IT. WAS. AMAZING.
Aside from eating, hiking and working, our time in San Diego was very chilled, to the point where, every other day, I'd question the BF; should we be doing more? Are we wasting an opportunity? But really, your holiday is your time to do what you want; there are no prerequisites - if you want to stay in bed all day, that's what you should do, because life and its usual demands will soon pop back up. The one night that we did go out, we hunted down a sports bar as we are both big MMA fans, and Conor McGregor, my ultimate favourite male fighter was up. Unless you know MMA, you probably won't know what a terrible night it turned out to be; we were sat with (horror of horrors!) some Mexicans, and McGregor was fighting against Nate Diaz, a Mexican-American. The BF and I got there early so we'd have seats, and basically ate, and ate, and ate, ahead of the fight starting. We also drank, which meant we were in full voice when McGregor appeared on the screen. The Mexican guests next to us were super quiet - until Diaz beat McGregor.
Anyway, on to Joshua Tree!