This is the 4th of a series of posts dealing with my fourth trip to South California. I’ve made minor corrections to these reports. Also, I’ve added additional thoughts with the hindsight of a ¾ year later or to add further clarification. These are indicated by “NOW”. After I booked the trip I unexpectedly had to move and during that had an Eastern Canada trip that didn’t go that great, so I was already pretty tired before the trip began.
I think what I thought was called Garden Grove town is actually part or Orange. Got up early and caught a 57 bus (Orange County Transportation Authority/OCTA) in Orange south back through Santa Ana but then got confused as to the direction of the connecting street (not helped by the person I asked not speaking English) and just missed an eastbound 60 bus (OCTA) so worked my way on foot to Santa Ana Depot (bus and train). Nice Spanish architecture. Pop tarts in a vending machine were 2 for $1.25 and pop $1.50 so that was my breakfast. The Greyhound bus was late but worked its way down south (with one traffic snarl) to San Diego. The bus depot there is right by 12 & Imperial Transit Center. The Greyhound was 30 minutes late getting to San Diego which ultimately meant that the southbound train to San Ysidiro to look at Tijuana from the American side wound off falling off the itinerary. Something had to give unfortunately. It took a while to find the daypass machine, during which time I just missed a San Ysidiro train. Lots of security at that station, a very unwelcoming introduction to San Diego (beyond the zoo and Sea World which I'd been to before).
[NOW: I later figured out that there was a Garden Grove but it covered less area than I originally thought. I wasn’t there this day. The hostel at Santa Ana I started out at was Orange Mango Hostel. I actually returned to Santa Ana before the bus turned south. The depot in Santa Ana is Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center; the bus depot in San Diego is San Diego Bus Station. A local train in San Diego is a San Diego Trolley. The train to San Ysidiro is a southbound Blue Line. I did ride this train but only north.]
All San Diego transportation used this day was San Diego Metro Transit. I took a Blue Line train to City College Station, then I walked to Balboa Park, which is pretty huge. Lots of Spanish architecture. The organ wasn't out at Spreckels Organ Pavilion but I did see Lily Pond, Bea Evenson Fountain, and the Spanish Art Center. I didn't notice a no art photos sign until just after I was leaving the art center; oops.
I crossed Cabrillo Bridge where there was construction by Disney Construction(!) and headed south. I noticed that the buildings heading south were an odd mix of Spanish architecture and Vancouver/Seattle architecture, without Seattle's sense of humour. I did like Horton Westfield Center, a multi-story largely outdoor mall, very Spanish. Most of the view was towards the inner area but I did find a view towards the water. I visited Crown Books and had an early lunch at Armaggio.
The Gaslamp Quarter nearby was a nice looking shopping area. Huge but nothing really to recommend it, just well decorated stores, little or no place to sit down. Grabbing a Slurpee at 7-11, I walked to Seaport Village, which was a lot nicer. Still lots of Tourist shops but a nice seaside motif, more welcoming to sit down. I took a Green Line train to Old Town.
[The start/end stops were Seaport Village Station and Old Town Transit Center.]
Old Town, a section of which being a small square called Fiesta de Reyes is a nice free walkthrough area. Free museums though I didn't go in to any given the time. People dressed in character though most dealers didn't seem to be Hispanic. Prices are more towards the future than the past though I did get a sarsaparilla pop (read: root beer). Nice photo ops. I took a Green Line train back to 12 & Imperial Transit Center. In that area the cops were dealing with a crazy man. A 901 bus took me to downtown Coronado. I walked to the beach so I could both see a San Diego are beach and visit another town in the San Diego area (i.e. Coronado). Apparently it was voted the best beach in the USA in 2012 but a bulldozer was moving sand around and there were only a few people. Well, 2012 was a couple years ago to be sure. I explored the downtown area after leaving the beach soon area. That area was quite nice. A bit pricey but there is a Walgreen's there to combat that, so I bought some vanilla Coke before taking the 901 back ton 12th & Imperial Transit Center.
[NOW: The beach was Coronado Beach.]
I took a Green Line train back to the Gaslamp Quarter only because it was about the only place I could get to before the Greyhound trip back. The trolley station in the area was the only place in the district I actually saw gas lamps. I walked back to 12th & Imperial Transit Center where I had to pass through security to use the bathroom. My bags also got searched at the San Diego Bus Station. As you've probably guessed, I did appreciate some aspects of San Diego but wasn't really crazy about it. I'd have probably had more fun going to Tijuana.
[NOW: The trolley station in the Gaslamp Quarter was Gaslamp Quarter Station.]
I took the Greyhound back; this direction it stopped briefly at Oceanside and at a weigh station. At Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center I took a 59 bus (OCTA) north and a 56 bus (ditto) west. I got some pizza at a nearby 7-11 before returning to the hostel. It was locked but I had a key. Smokey's back now (just checked the spelling) and had me pet him but hasn't yet requested a belly rub like day 2.
[NOW: I got off the 59 bus in Orange. The 56 bus passed briefly through Santa Ana before returning to Orange. As previously noted Smokey is a dog.]