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We had another lazy morning on Sunday (February 16).  Our sole destination today is the famed San Diego Zoo. With six hours of walking, we definitely got our five miles in (Oscar and I have “Fitbits” that count our steps and miles).  The highlight was the panda exhibit simply because there are not that many pandas in the US, only a handful of zoos even have one.  We got to see the mom, and the baby (18 months old). San Diego has a successful, naturally breeding pair and the cub we saw was their sixth (we didn’t get to see dad).  At about 3 years old the cubs are sent back to China where they are introduced into the wild.  I found it interesting that all the pandas in the US belong to the Chinese government.

Baby

Baby

We also especially enjoyed the apes and the monkeys. (Who doesn’t?) There were lots of cool birds, a very healthy pair of lions, adorable baby giraffes and much, MUCH more.  We got to see a 4-D movie too… “Ice Age 4-D.” Are you wondering what the fourth dimension is?  I guess you could call it physical sensation – like a rumbling chair that bounces when dinosaurs stalk the screen … or like water (I hope!) sprayed on you when a dinosaur sneezes!

Mother

Mother

And the place was a zoo in the other sense too! There were so many people, so many crying children, so many parents talking baby talk, and even families fighting, like the ones in front of us in the panda exhibit line who we had to put up with for well over 20 minutes (Yes, be prepared, there is a long line to see the pandas!)._DSC2876

Following a long day walking we were, again, exhausted by dinner time.  We chose a place called Humphrey’s for the view as well as the food, but we weren’t seated so as to be able to see the view (and actually it might be a sunset sort of thing which was well past by the time we got there) but our food was quite good.

Another slide show!

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Monday, we were up early again to take pictures.  Oscar has to go to work today so again we are on our own.  We headed over to Coronado, a place we really liked, to take pictures back toward downtown San Diego from across the bay.  The best sight we had was crossing the bridge.  Coronado was roof deep in fog, and it really looked neat from the height of the

Coronado in the fog.

Coronado in the fog.

bridge. We were just a little late for getting the best pictures of the morning, but the yellow sky of the sunrise was a perfect backdrop to the silhouettes of the bridge and the boats and even the little rubber-raft fishermen out taking advantage of the calm water.

Beautiful sunrise from Coronado

Beautiful sunrise from Coronado

We walked quite a distance around the park and got caught up in the traffic access to the bridge with no pedestrian crossings.  Eventually we found our way back to the car and drove to another section of the island to take pictures of birds.  Then we went downtown to find some breakfast and walk there too.  That town walk took us to the Hotel del Coronado.  I am going to have to check into this again, because the place looked beautiful, inside and out.

The lobby of the hotel del Coronado - elegance of by-gone times!

The lobby of the hotel del Coronado – elegance of by-gone times!

We checked out a sand castle builder on the beach who said the hotel occupancy was almost 100%.  Does that sound like a place that should be getting bad reviews?  Plus, looking up at the building (the largest wooden

Sand castle on the beach in front of the Hotel del Coronado (You can even get it personalized and have your picture taken next to it.)

Sand castle on the beach in front of the Hotel del Coronado (You can even get it personalized and have your picture taken next to it.)

structure in the United States), you can tell that the rooms must be fantastic judging from the size of the balconies and the arrangements of the windows.

Panorama of the Hotel del Coronado from the beach.  In case you can't tell - the place is immense!

Panorama of the Hotel del Coronado from the beach. In case you can’t tell – the place is immense!

Our main destination for the day was Balboa Park and the museums. Thanks to the holiday, museums that are usually closed on Mondays were open, except of course the botanical museum, which as a city museum, was closed.  Two trips to the park to see that museum and both times closed!  (A word to the wise :  It is always closed on Thursdays, and closed on holidays).

We got the five museum pass.  I do not recommend it.  Though the park bills itself as having 14 major museums, “major” they are not.  All the museums are small.  That is a good thing if you’re not so crazy about museums or have small children in tow.  You would probably think that you won’t have time for five, but you surely wouldn’t bother to try to see them if you didn’t have the pass.  All the “special” exhibits were extra anyway, and price-wise you’ll barely break even if you do see five.

We managed to visit three of the four that interested us (the fourth closed early and we missed it by about a half an hour!). The Mengei had a fascinating exhibit of I am not sure what to call them – constructions?  Series of boxes filled with items and named for people, purses in butterfly cases…words cannot really describe it.  I loved it though!  There was also an exhibit of chairs, work by Chihuly, etc.  We saw the San Diego Art Museum.  It has a small collection but some very important works by well-known artists.  A special exhibit on “Women, War and Industry” was in its last days. Though I found the premise of the exhibit not tightly enough focused, there were many thought-provoking themes.  I’d love to know if the curator is a member of AAUW (as there were references to The Invisible War and Lilly Ledbetter!)

We saw the Museum of Man, too. This is the museum located in the arrestingly domed building with the tower that looks like a church.  I found the exhibit on the origins of homo sapiens to be particularly informative. By lunch time we were well in to the tens of thousands of steps, with aching legs and sore feet!  We had lunch at the Art Museum Cafe and after the rest opted for a walk outside to see the Japanese Friendship Garden.  That was a disappointment because practically the entire garden is under renovation.  I found it cheeky to charge an entrance fee when there was next to nothing to see.

With still one more museum to fit in, we opted for the science museum because it included entry to a 3-D movie – translation: We can sit down!

Like most science museums this one was full of kids and noisy (both of those are good things). The movie we saw was about the unseen world – and not just the microscopic.  They showed things we can’t see because they happen too fast or too slowly, they are too big or too small, or they need other kinds of waves (versus visible light waves) in order to be seen.  It may not have been the best use of a 3-D theater but it was still visually stimulating.  Not so much so that I didn’t fall asleep however.

The Japanese Friendship Garden - picture strategically taken to avoid all signs of construction.

The Japanese Friendship Garden – picture strategically taken to avoid all signs of construction.

Back at the hotel, we had a long wait for Oscar. It took him over two hours to cross the border tonight, at the end of a long weekend.  We had a late dinner at Casa Guadalajara in Old Town.   The food was very fresh and delicious, but especially remarkable were the margaritas!  Oscar order large ones for himself and for me, and a medium for his dad who was driving…well the medium was our concept of “large” and well, the large ones we got – they were like punch bowls! At $8.50 each they were really quite a bargain!

Our flight home would leave really early the following morning, so we said our goodbyes before bed, and set our alarms for 4:30am.

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