Friday, 5 February 2016

San Diego Tourist

The last few days has been back into the swing of business travel - early morning runs in the dark icy cold to the airport and getting home late at night to faceplant on the sofa in front of a blaring TV that you don't actually register. Mostly these trips are hard work from start to finish, but just sometimes you have a ray of sunshine in the middle. Last winter, I had to spend two weeks in the US - and grabbed the  opportunity to go visit a childhood friend in San Diego. 
It was a real joy to step out of the cold & damp of Dutch winters into the glorious warmth of California's southern city. From brown twiggy leaf less plants to lush cactii in flower and dragon fruit hanging temptingly over garden walls, it's an amazing recharge of color and fragrance and life. I love seeing the difference that temperature makes to the plant selection that you see all around you : different plant mixes associate strongly in my mind with different memories - often the warm sunny plant combinations being associated with lovely relaxing beach holidays. 

I always scout the local area for interesting and unusual things to bring home, particularly in the  food & spice space. I've always felt that I live to eat, rather than eat to live - although as i get older and tubbier, I need to adjust the balance. Its harder and harder to genuinely find different foods - we've become so used to having food flown around the world and appearing in the local ethnic cornershop - but a trip to a supermarket is still as much fun as a museum trip for me. This time I came back heavily loaded with hominy, spices and mesa flour - also lots of lovely mexican chili varieties. I've interspersed our winter meals with flavours that send my memories right back into the warmth of the California winter.
My friend took me sightseeing  : I just cant find enough words to express the wonderful variety of things  you can see and do in the San Diego area.  I've been twice now, and there is still so much to do, that I think I'm going to have to go back a few more times yet. The Mormon temple has to be the amazing piece of architecture in the area - I am an avid fan of Tolkien and it really was something straight out of my imagination of his world. We spent nearly 30 minutes as I tried to capture the perfect picture of the White City in my imagination. We took a trip up to Mount Soledad, and visited the veterans memorial. It's a remarkably solemn area, and despite the blue sky and sun beating down, you still get a shiver running down your spine as you see the faces of so many service men and women who gave their lives in duty to their country. The story of the ongoing political arguments about the site of the memorial is also very engaging - albeit not documented anywhere obvious. You need a local to give you the story!

We finished with a day at the beach - swimming with seals, through rocky areas full of fish, dodging the ever present electric rays in the sand. We watched the sun drop over the horizon, then packed up and headed to the airport. Can't wait for my next San Diego trip!

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