There are many sites in San Diego that cost nothing to appreciate. Old Town is where "it" all began and the Spanish roots run deep here in the architecture and flavour of the place. There are a few original structures but most are reproductions of the first settlement of San Diego. The main square was built around a green space, originally farmland and now grass, shade trees and flowering hedges. Wells Fargo displays its heritage in the form of photographs, paintings, personal letters and accounts of journeys, artifacts and an original stagecoach.
An intriguing tobacconist displayed historic pipes, snuff boxes, lighters & cigarette packaging from around the globe. The various fresh pipe tobacco mixes with its fruit or spice aromas tempted me to buy some to simmer in a soup or stew. My common sense told be to take photographs instead.
Each building displayed an aspect of the Old Town history. An old barn was filled with buggies and wagons. We walked through some homesteads set up for life in the past. The town judge's office, court and two-person jail fed the imagination with rough times and rougher punishments. A chapel and large church were sparsely decorated with crisp white shadows and blurred coloured images of stained glass religious stories.
Among Balboa's many galleries is the Victorian gem central to the park. Inside the Botanical Building, one feels like they are caught inside an old children's book looking up at the delicate metal dome. As with many of the buildings, the indoor garden was built for the world's fair 1915-1916. Although blooms were scarce, the filtered sunlight and shadows on the numerous leafy forms was magical. I half expected the tiger from Life of Pi to leap out from behind a palm tree.
The Leatherneck museum is a free display of fighter plans and helicopters used by The Marines. The indoor museum displays, medals, uniforms, paintings, signage, maps, posters and plane models. History's tragedies, beauty and lessons are so easy to enjoy firsthand. I used to hate textbook history in high school yet can't get enough out in the real world!
The Gaslight District can be explored on foot by following the plaques on the restored and re purposed buildings. I spoke of the restaurants and galleries here in an earlier post.
Perhaps the most beautiful cost-free sightseeing, is La Jolla's cove and shoreline. The waters are a protected nature reef and the hundreds of pelicans, gulls and sea lions, attest to its success. The gorgeous rocky cliffs, carved stone shoals and bright sandy beaches contrast with the deep blue waters creating an icon of beauty for Southern California.
Although it is difficult to leave, we are now headed for the Anza Borrego Desert. I will publish this before something bad happens!