Welcome to part 2 of 5 blogs about our American road-trip around California and Las Vegas.
After our 4 days in L.A. we began the journey to San Diego. We stopped off at a couple of gorgeous beaches on the way which I would highly recommend to break up the journey.
After an hour and a half drive, we stopped off to stretch our legs and boy did we pick a beautiful place to do it. We wandered down the pier and watched the surfers in their continued attempts to ride the perfect wave. You could spend hours watching them all rush to get on their boards when they sense that a powerful wave is on the way.
We had a quick stop at the Havaianas shop to replace the flip-flops that I annoyingly left at Venice Beach the previous day, then grabbed a drink at Tanner’s bar – a smooth craft beer for me and a mocktail for the driver.
After another half an hour driving, we arrived at Laguna Beach. This was so much more peaceful than Huntington with barely anyone around. We scrambled over the rocks and took in the beautiful sea view.
A late lunch called for Gina’s pizza – we were so hungry that there was no chance of getting a picture before demolishing it, but trust me, it was AMAZING.
We had a stroll the other way down the beach and came across this sign – I felt like I needed some reassurance that I would be ok after eating all that pizza!
Back in the car we had another couple of hours drive (including traffic boo) to get to San Diego where we had rented another Air BnB in Pacific Beach, a great location with plenty of craft beer places nearby.
Pour your own beer
After a quick freshen up, we headed out to Barrel Republic where you are given an electronic wristband which you use to pour your own beer! So you can try a bit, and if you like it then pour yourself some more but if not – grab a fresh glass and on to the next one. It took a few attempts to get that perfect pint (and I’m still not sure I was doing it exactly right).
While sipping on our self-poured beer, we found ourselves engrossed in Muggle Quidditch – yes people running around on broomsticks trying to get balls through the goalposts. The golden snitch was a tennis ball in a sock tucked into someone’s shorts, definitely not as magical as the real thing (…yes magic is real, I had just been to Harry Potter world at Universal Studios).
You are presented a final bill as you leave and hand back the wrist bands and it was much more reasonable than I thought it would be so I definitely recommend Barrel Republic, despite their questionable taste in sport.
Dinner was a short walk away at Crushed restaurant where we shared tacos, nachos and the most incredible duck loaded fries (who knew such thing existed, and it’s as tasty as you imagine!)
La Jolla seals
Up and out early after a Starbucks breakfast, we drove to La Jolla to see the seals and sea lions. I couldn’t believe how close you could get, and also how blooming loud they are! A good way to tell the difference between seals and sea lions is that sea lions are the ones that won’t shut up! Seals lie there nice and peacefully, as if they are sunbathing.
Duke’s Hawaiin restaurant was the perfect lunchspot on a rooftop overlooking the sea. I had ribs with chicken skewers, rice and mac’n’cheese (as you’ve probably guessed by now – clean eating was pretty much out the window on this trip!)
Kayak experience…from hell
So this is when the holiday of a lifetime turned a little scary. Sean had mentioned kayaking a few times so I thought why not give it a go. The first half an hour was zen like coasting along on the calm sea waters, just how you imagine a relaxing afternoon in San Diego.
The shop assistant had warned us not to go to close to the caves as the water was much choppier. I was looking at the GoPro not paying much attention to where we were heading, but looked up and saw we were pretty close to the caves.
Before we knew it, we had been swept in to the cave, collided with the wall and I was thrown off the kayak. I’m not sure whether Sean jumped in to help me or if he was knocked off too but we were both in the water really struggling to get back on the kayak. We both had life jackets ons, so I think our chance of drowning was pretty slim, but in that moment you don’t think so logically and panic sets in. Every time I tried to jump back on the kayak, another wave would thrash against us and I’d be back in the water with more cuts and bruises from being bashed onto the rocks.
Thankfully, the leader of a tour group about 50metres away must have seen our struggle and shouted to ask if we needed help. I managed to beckon him over, and he said to keep calm and he would pull the kayak out to where the waters were calmer so that we could get back on there. Seems totally obvious now, but in that utter terror of being thrown in the water, we didn’t think of this sensible idea.
Once back on the kayak, we lasted another 20 minutes or so before heading back. I got out the water very ungracefully, nursing numerous cuts and bruises. I still have a scar on my foot – I won’t be forgetting that cave any time soon!
Despite the horrific experience, I haven’t been put off kayaking for life and look forward to trying it again but definitely staying away from the choppy waters.
A relax on the beach was in order next. I read my book and napped while Sean played about in the sea on a body-board that came with the Air BnB.
We went to an In and Out Burger for tea – it was pretty awful waiting for our meal to be honest. Not sure if we were just in a dodgy area but it did not feel safe there at all, plus the food was mediocre so definitely give that one a miss!
Time to chill in a Japenese zen garden
The next day we headed to Balboa Park for a day on-land. First up was a wander around the Japenese zen garden. I really needed this calm and serene time after yesterday’s cave drama, and it got me really excited to explore the real deal when we are in Japan.
Sean soon had enough of the quiet and suggested hiring electric scooters to see more of the park. These took a bit of getting used to – while he was zooming off I was stopping and starting, never quite reaching the speeds he did being poised to jump off at any second.
You might remember I tried a cucumber beer in L.A. Well this was blown out of the park by a WATERMELON beer at Ballast Point in Little Italy. Sooo refreshing sipping this in the Californian version of a beer garden.
It was a shame that Sean had to drive and couldn’t enjoy the beers, but we knew Vegas was on the horizon where he could make the most of not being designated driver!
Out out in San Diego
We grabbed a Lyft (similar to Uber, we used this a lot in America to share a taxi fare with a random heading in the same direction) and headed for Altitude sky lounge, a rooftop cocktail bar with a firepit overlooking the San Diego Padres baseball stadium.
Next we headed to Nason’s Beer Hall where we got chatting to the barman who gave us a free cucumber beer to try – look how happy I am!
We fancied a bit of live music so went to Prohibition Lounge underground jazz bar, a speakeasy bar with VERY strong cocktails. It all gets a bit hazy from this point to be honest, but I do remember heading to Subway afterwards where the server asked us “Are you from British?”
The hangover hits
I was feeling a little worse for wear in the morning, however Sean was honestly the most excitable I have ever seen him knowing that we were on our way to Vegas! He wanted to drive to Coronado Brewing Company before our flight to pick up a t-shirt, so I sat quietly in the passenger seat begging for a McDonald’s. This wish was granted to me, but I didn’t feel well enough to go inside so stayed in the car. However, SOMEONE locked me in and took the keys with him. Quite quickly, the temperature rose and I felt myself very warm (dogs die in hot cars). I opened the door and the car alarm started blaring. The guy next to me who was napping in his car looked very unimpressed so I quickly shut the door. After another 2 minutes in this sauna I had to open the door again – wakey wakey Mr!
Sean came back after what felt like an hour and provided me with a Happy Meal which sorted me out, then it was onwards to the airport to catch our flight to VEGAS BABY!!!