Weekend Trip to Downtown San Diego

Trip Report 20080426

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Central fountain at Horton Plaza, Downtown San Diego, CA.

The Experience

One of the things that Kathleen and I have not done with any frequency is to do the "tourist thing" in our own town. San Diego has some world class tourist attractions (in addition to the beach) including the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, and the Gaslamp District downtown. After returning to town, we vowed to visit these attractions and take advantage of living in "America's Finest City".

The Gaslamp district is a historic restoration of older buildings in the central downtown area. These buildings now house high end restaurants, shops and bars. We intended to eat at a Brazilian Steakhouse there called "Rei del Gato". While we have been to this area many times, it was always at night, thus precluding taking meaningful photos without a flash or tripod. But, since we were going to be here during the day, I elected to take my Leica M8 with a 24mm Leica lens. This rangefinder camera is somewhat dated by today's DSLR standards, but it works great for shooting in the city.

The photos below are what we saw.

Any trip to the downtown area from our home will take you past Lindbergh Field, AKA San Diego International Airport. The view from the freeway is reasonably impressive and allows seeing both take-offs and landings.

The San Diego airport is very busy since it has a limited number of runways. Here, several jets queue up for takeoff. In the background, you can see Point Loma and the hangars at NAS North Island.

Several of the buildings downtown have great murals painted on their walls.

The redeveloped area of downtown is quite nice with brick buildings.

The Hard Rock Cafe is a chain, but it still brings in the crowds, even in the middle of the day.

Jeff, in the distance, is on a mission for food. Kathleen pauses to reflect on "things". Note the nice tile work on the sidewalk.

Several of the older buildings have been preserved. This one is somewhat of a throw-back.

What is it about cameras that makes women want to pose? I am not sure, but these two gals badgered me until I took their photos.

I think these two were out shopping for the afternoon.

Redevelopment and repair are a never-ending burden. At least this fellow put down a drop cloth to protect the tile sidewalk.

Jeff's face shows "shock and awe" after he figures out how much his offer to buy us lunch will cost him.

The light in the restaurant was very low, but this wide-open, high-ISO, hand-held shot without flash came out ok. The "speckle" is due to chroma noise from the sensor due to the high ISO setting.

After lunch (thanks, Jeff!!) we hit the bricks for a short tour of the area surrounding Horton Plaza. The plaza, to the left of this photo, used to be the home for some most unsavory individuals. While there were several remnants of that older era present, the problems have been mostly cleaned up. The redevelopment brought a substantial shopping mall as well as high-end restaurants and bars.

The historic U.S. Grant Hotel is right across the street from the plaza. The building has been nicely restored and looks good. It is reputed to have a nice restaurant, the U.S. Grant Grill, but we have not eaten there.

This is the fountain in Horton Plaza.

The plaza was clean and landscaping was nice.

Kathleen investigates "deals" on tickets for local performances.

These trolleys are a fixture in downtown and in addition to transportation and sightseeing, they serve as rolling billboards. Cymer is a local firm that produces lasers and UV light sources for integrated circuit manufacturing; decidedly high-tech stuff.

The mall at Horton Plaza had some interesting architecture and decorations.

The banners were colorful and provided interesting contrast to the exterior design.

Eye-catching colors.

I have never seen signage like this before. Interesting to say the least.

Crocs are currently the rage with the young crowd. They are colorful, if nothing else. These were displayed on a vendor's cart in the center walkway of the mall. The light coming through the cloth roof of the cart added an interesting color cast to the photo.

Downtown is always interesting. There are plenty of somewhat-offbeat things to see. Some years ago, the San Diego City Counsel approved the Gaslamp redevelopment program. This program, despite being somewhat contentious, has really revitalized the downtown area from its days of being the home to drug dealers and prostitutes. Crowds here on weekends can be substantial and the restaurant scene is booming. The recent construction of PetCo field (baseball park) has further improved the area. It is worth a visit if you are in the area.

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