Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Balboa Park, San Diego

The 4-night getaway, while primarily a vacation, was a scouting expedition; thus we didn't spend much time at any one location. We need places to visit that are within driving distance where we might be able to spend an occasional night away from home. After spending the first night in "the grungy hotel" the goal was to find a decent hotel in a decent part of town. The Holiday Inn on the bay didn't have a room, but they had a golden phone number! The person on the other end was only to happy to book us into the Cabrillo Motor Lodge in Point Loma, a mere 8 minutes from the Gaslamp Quarter where we planned to have dinner. Strange as it may seem I had spotted the Lodge on our early morning search for Balboa Park and had pointed it out as a possibilty. Must have been destiny.

Upon arriving at Balboa Park (BP) where the San Diego Zoo resides, we found parking to be next to impossible! After circling many of the parking lots for what seemed like hours we did find an almost empty lot near the Veterans Memorial building and luckily the lot was on the tram route. The tram took us directly to Casa Del Prado and the first find of the day. Terrace dining at The Prado restaurant!

The photo is the mirror image of where we sat. I couldn't figure out how to photograph the perfectly situated table until just before we left. Directly opposite of us was the empty table. We were treated to a first-timers-dessert. Cheesecake flan!

We had hoped that the Japanese Garden at BP was going to be outstanding, sadly it wasn't. The garden was nicely landscaped but short on visuals. The Botanical Building, however, was outstanding! The outside of the building is one of many architectural wonders in BP. I couldn't resist taking a shot of the dome from the inside.

BP "Is one of America's largest urban cultural parks and is the legacy of two Expositions. The combination of the two Expositions created the excitement and beauty of BP starting with the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition and ending with the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition. "

The sculpture garden find , above, was discovered in the shadows of a metal piece. The black lines are shadows in shallow water at the base of the metal sculpture.

I don't remember what this building housed, but the textures, motifs, and decor stopped me in my tracks!
We sat on a bench, to rest our weary bones, and looked to our right and caught this view! Southern CA has more palms than I remembered; can't seem to leave them behind in the desert.

The security line for the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit didn't look inviting in its length, plus the heat and sun were getting to me. We considered returning the next day to see it, but headed north instead. We did see the Impressionist Giverny exhibit at the Museum of Art, also in BP.

My photo of Giverny, Aug, 2000, seemed to pop up in many of the paintings in the exhibit! Not much had changed in the village since the time of the paintings, 1885-1915. A grand soothing hour was spent in front of the Impressionist paintings before checking into the hotel.

I wasn't able to photograph the Gaslamp Quarter, not enough daylight by the time we arrived, but the scene was touristy, exciting, and felt like another country rather than San Diego! I love it when I feel like a foreigner/visitor without going too far from home. After browsing the preview menus at a vast variety of restaurants we opted for one where an outside table was waiting for us. The dinner at the Blue Luna was excellent! Halibut with a potato crust at its best. "Sidewalk cafes and open air restaurants, jazz clubs, late night dancing, resident artists and micro breweries can all be discovered in the Gaslamp Quarter."

A quote from the Museum of Art exhibit that sums up the day:
One must keep on drawing; draw with your eyes when you can't draw with a pencil. Jean Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 1780-1867.
The day spent at BP was full of "drawing with my eyes."

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