Wednesday, May 6, 2009

An Englishman in San Diego - Whales, Seals, Sea Lions and Fish & Chips

We spent our first full day in San Diego at SeaWorld. While the thought of animals in captivity, performing whales, dolphins, sea lions, etc., may put some people off, it is undoubtedly a lot of fun for the little ones, not to mention educational. We went when we were in San Diego two years ago, and while it is still fresh in the minds of my Wife and me, our daughter, who was two at the time, had completely forgotten about that first trip.

We thoroughly recommend Breakfast With Shamu, a very good poolside buffet breakfast. Poolside, referring to one of the smaller killer whale pools. One or two of the whale trainers put one of their whales through its paces right next to you as you eat. Shamu is a collective and trademarked name for any of the performing killer whales (orcas) at all of SeaWorld's various locations. We were introduced, as we were last time when we were here, to the 45-year-old and very gentle female named Corky. I actually prefer the Breakfast with Shamu experience to the big whale show they put on at SeaWorld, but there is no doubt that Believe, featuring many of the whales here, is quite a spectacle. If you are with an enthusiastic four-year-old, prepare to have to sit in the "Soak Zone," anywhere in the first 20 rows or so around Shamu Stadium. In addition to getting wet when the whales jump, one of the tricks they do is to splash the audience with their tails.

The next day, we went on a two-hour cruise along the San Diego coastline. Arriving at the harbor area, we were surprised to see several huge cruise ships in dock, many tourists milling around, and TV news crews interviewing people. We are, of course, in the middle of a panic about swine flu, and San Diego is in very close proximity to Mexico, its current epicenter. Two cruise ships were originally scheduled to go to Mexico, but the swine flu scare had caused them to divert to San Diego, resulting in many more people than usual in the vicinity.

San Diego is known for its connection with the US Navy, and our more modest cruise took us first under the Coronado Bridge, showing us many of the Navy ships stationed here. When we turned around and headed in the opposite direction, we saw more naval activity, including Navy SEALs in a training exercise jumping out of helicopters into the water, and dolphins being trained for special operations out of small boats. We also saw many wild California sea lions. Upon our return to the harbor, and in the interests of research for my readers, we ate some very good fish and chips at Anthony's Fish Grotto (in the quick-serve "Fishette" section, where you can sit out by the water).

As some of you may know, I work for a company that offers on-line education. The company is based in Temecula, California, not that far from San Diego. For the first time in the ten years that I have worked for them, I managed to meet in person, one of my work colleagues. Ending the day, my colleague joined us with her husband for a pizza dinner at Escondido, a city about halfway between San Diego and Temecula.


Cindy said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time!

You didn't say, however, how the fish and chips rank or if Anthony's Fish Grotto deserves a spot on your map!

Look forward to you being home and tweeting soon!

Graham said...

@Cindy - there's still more to come! And yes, Anthony's deserves a spot on the map. Nice crunchy chips and batter on the fish, and not greasy at all.

Leora said...

I find it neat that you finally met someone with whom you work. My husband says there are people with whom he works and knows by phone or by email but has never met in real life.

Glad to see two posts about your trip! Except for the swine flu note on the second post, it's sounds great! Stay healthy.

Graham said...

@Leora - The vacation was great! I'm back home today, but there's still more to come in the blog.

This was the first time I've met anyone I work with in this job. And that's been 10 years! I'd love to meet the guy (the founder of the company) who took the chance on me and hired me after only corresponding with me via e-mail.