I’ve had an interesting three days recently with two old (not age-wise, just time-known-wise) girlfriends. We all met up in San Diego for three days. Let me mention from the git-go that the last time I spent recreational time away without David was when I went to Puerto Rico with my sister, Lin, and my then 11-year-old son, Brennan, over 31 years ago. David was mountain-climbing in Kenya at the time. So taking off by myself to meet up with old friends is a bit of novelty for me.
I met Diane 30 years ago at a medical convention trade show. She was working in the booth next to mine. We were both alone, struck up a conversation, had dinner and became fast friends. We stayed in touch over the years, met up a few times, and most recently, I had the chance to spend time with her and her husband, Steve, in Las Vegas last Spring.
Holly was a marketing exec in our company’s bank back in the mid-80s. We met, became friends and later ended up working together with Diane in the medical industry. Holly and I fell out of touch for years, but through Diane, hooked up again last Spring. We three decided we’d like to get together again…like old times. We were looking for interesting, relaxed, sunny and warm. San Diego was our venue of choice.
I digress...back to the story. Holly now hails from Central California and drove down, so we had wheels. We met up mid-morning, me from Vegas and Diane from the frigid Twin Cities. Holly picked us up at the airport and whisked us away to Old Town (aka Spanish Town), the site of the first Spanish settlement on the U.S. West Coast which features 12 acres of Mexican heritage and historical sites, colorful shops, early-California-style restaurants and much more. We strolled leisurely through the historical buildings, stopping to chat with costumed docents and admire old photos and memorabilia. We wandered through shops and boutiques, buying nothing, but admiring it all.
Lunch at Casa Guadalajara (Mexican, but of course!) was in a colorful, outdoor patio. The sun shone, the pitchers of Dos XX were cold, the meal was great and the company couldn’t be beat. We had a lot of catching up to do. All of our lives had changed dramatically through the years just as you’d expect and the chat was non-stop.
Holly had brought enough wine and champagne for an army…or us. We grocery shopped before checking into our little Airbnb house, so when it came time to head out to dinner, we chose to chill out, drink wine and munch on cheese, crackers and fruit. The wine and the chat poured freely. No driving, no angst, no sched...nothing but time and fine friends.
Coronado Island was on the second day’s agenda. We wandered along the beach in front of the legendary Hotel del Coronado (winter specials starting at $329/night). The Sandcastle man was busy building castles. We dipped our feet in the cold Pacific and watched seabirds scamper to avoid the waves.
We worked up such an appetite that we felt compelled to stop for a beer and fish tacos at a Tiki Bar on the beach. We’re tough women, but we need our sustenance. Diane reveled in soaking up the rays, especially after talking to Steve who reported temps of -27F in northern Minnesota. Brrrr!
We did walk through the Hotel del Coronado to see how the other half was living. They were doing quite well actually. Still just a tad hungry (I know, it’s hard to believe), we forced down ice cream to top off our light lunch.
Dinner was at a stand-in-line-to-order-your-food kind of place in Little Italy...perfect in every way. Back at the ‘ranch’, we talked until well into the night (read that, till slightly after 10pm).
With no plans for our third day, we sipped coffee, ate a light breakfast from our dwindling pantry stash and finally managed to get ourselves going. We headed to nearby Balboa Park. It was, in my estimation, the best choice ever. What a gorgeous, wonderful place!
Originally called City Park, Balboa Park was renamed after the famous Spanish explorer in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition held in the park that year. This 1,200 acre urban cultural park offers 16 museums, several botanical gardens, a sculpture garden, breathtaking Spanish-Renaissance style architecture, walking trails, an art village, the renowned San Diego Zoo and so much more. In 2003 Balboa Park was ranked as one of the Best Parks in the World by the Project for Public Spaces (rank of 13 out of 24 international parks). It’s an impressive place and we regretted we had just an afternoon to spend there.
The Visitor’s Center provided maps and key information to make the most of our visit. After walking a couple of short trails, we visited the free Timeken Art Museum, but decided being outside was preferable. The Spanish Village Art Center is located in quaint buildings and courtyards surrounding a colorful Spanish plaza ‘originally built in 1935 to depict a charming old village in Spain for the second California Pacific International Exposition.’
We wandered in and out of shops visiting artists and artisans at work, admiring their creations. We spent so much time there, in fact, all too soon, it was time to go. I think I’ll try to talk David into a return trip some time. There’s so much more to see and explore.
Another evening spent chatting, laughing, drinking, eating and just being us. This much anticipated get-together was over as Holly dropped us on the curb to catch our outgoing flights.
A lesson learned once again: The test of a good friend? No matter how long between visits, whether it be days or years, you can just pick up where you left off and it’s all good.