Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Grand Tour of San Diego - Friday 14th July

Prior to visiting, I had no idea that San Diego, in the exteme south of California, has a population of 1.25 million and consequently is both the second largest city in California and the seventh largest in the USA.

San Diego is BIG and has LOTS of freeways as well as lots of people but it doesn't quite have that sprawling feeling that engulfs the metropolitan area called Los Angeles. Historically, it's been known for a long time as a navy town with a large number of naval bases. One quarter of the area's economy and employment is estimated to be linked to the presence of a major part of the American military. Latterly it's become much more technology oriented and has been dubbed Telecoms Valley

Louise gave me a very fast tour of the city on Friday 14th July but kept emphasising that she was only scratching the surface! Here are some of the sights I saw.

The first photo is of the wall of bells at the San Diego de Alcala Mission.

This Mission is the first and oldest in the chain of Missions founded by the Jesuits and latterly the Franciscan along the 600 miles of the El Camino Real near the coast of California. It was established on 16th July 1769 (237 years ago) and has been relocated a number of times and rebuilt due to earthquake damage.

Then comes a shot of part of Old Town San Diego. This was recreated during the city's bicentennial in 1969 to be a State Park for the historic sites in the original location of the Old Town. An area which has fortunately not been ruined by the worst ravages of tourism.

Some of the cacti flowers I saw were large and very spectacular - with this being a prime example.

Next is a photo of HMS Surprise, the replica of a frigate used in "Master and Commander" which, along with a number of other ships now forms part of the Maritime Museum in San Diego Harbour. Across the harbour, I could see ships of the USA navy tied up in the main naval dockyard while aircraft from the Naval Airforce flew overhead on a regular basis.

Finally a panorama shot of part of San Diego Bay from the Old Point Loma Lighthouse (part of the Cabrillo National Monument). Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo led the first European expedition to explore the west coast of North America and found a good enclosed port in dan Diego Bay in 1542 and claimed the land for Spain before heading north to Monterey bay - a journey I make later on this trip.


We didn't have time for me to see the famed San Diego Zoo or to get more of a glimpse of Balboa Park and its museums - as Louise said we just 'scratched the surface' before we paid the ritual visit to Ben and Jerry's for a well earned ice cream!

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