Posts Tagged ‘san diego’

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class="post-6944 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-misc tag-library tag-photos tag-san-diego tag-travel">

San Diego Central Library

December 28th, 2018

San Diego city skyline
 

From certain angles the San Diego downtown skyline has a strange feature; an egg-shaped dome. Even from a distance the dome doesn’t appear solid but more like the skeleton of a dome. Perhaps someone’s building a government capitol or a large church?

Wrong on all counts — not only is the dome complete, it’s part of San Diego’s Central Library. The dome sits over the top couple of floors of the building’s “front” side, letting natural light in for reading.

The building is open to the public with the exception of a school that takes up a couple floors.

 
San Diego Central Library San Diego Central Library
 

Walking in from the street there’s a three-story tall atrium in the checkout area, along with a giant chess set. This made me laugh not because giant chess sets are particularly funny, but at the thought of the library instead having a giant Jenga set in the lobby with librarians rushing over to shush the loser each time a giant Jenga tower came crashing down on the tile floor.

Now, why would a tourist like me visit a library? It’s a nine story tall building and I wanted to see the view from the balcony at the top.

 
San Diego Central Library
 

Unfortunately it’s… well… not a very interesting view up there. In the background you can see the insanely tall San Diego–Coronado Bridge. On the left there’s a huge parking lot, in the middle there’s trolley tracks leading to the 12th & Imperial Transit Center, and on the right you can see the dome from the inside and some buildings down below. That’s about it.

There are tables on the balcony for outdoor reading, or if you prefer quiet and less wind you can walk through a set of doors and down a flight of stairs to the reading room. The view’s just as good from in there with floor to ceiling windows.

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class="post-6921 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-misc tag-bridge tag-photos tag-san-diego tag-travel">

Spruce Street Suspension Bridge at night

December 27th, 2018

Spruce Street Suspension Bridge after dark
Spruce Street Suspension Bridge after dark Spruce Street Suspension Bridge after dark

 

Every old city has its unique elements, but San Diego’s Spruce Street Suspension Bridge is a particularly peculiar element of its early 20th century heritage. This pedestrian-only bridge crosses a ravine between two residential areas with a shaky, unstable footpath.

Before modern times most city bridges were built with rigidity in mind. The first suspension bridges however were constructed more like early rope bridges, where a little swaying was tolerated.

Here in modern day San Diego the Spruce Street Suspension pedestrian bridge is still there, it’s weird by modern standards, and it’s even more unsettling after sunset. So that’s when I went.

In the dark of night I could feel the bridge sway under my feet yet I couldn’t tell how high up I was due to the darkness beneath the bridge. With the uneven planks there was no telling if the bridge was structurally sound at all.

As I timidly crossed back and forth to snap photos, a local resident walked his dog across the bridge while chatting on the phone. To him this seemed perfectly mundane. The two of us walking without coordination caused the bridge to rock gently back and forth.

On one side the outline of downtown San Diego was visible in the distance. Due to the darkness and the motion of the bridge, I couldn’t get a photo that was in focus.

While walking back to the bus stop, I couldn’t help but to think of San Diego’s reputation for ghost stories. I’d pegged it as the superstitions of a military town, but after crossing this gently moving bridge in the dark I could see why this otherwise picturesque city could have a creepy vibe.

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class="post-6909 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-misc tag-art tag-san-diego tag-sculpture tag-travel">

San Diego’s waterfront sculptures

December 27th, 2018

Joy
 

San Diego’s waterfront has a lot of touristy crap — pedicabs, people hawking “homemade” wares, living statues, dubious ferry rides, etc.

Taking a walk down the waterfront the first thing that caught my eye was the above “Joy” pier with the flags at half mast. Why were they at half mast? Not really sure.

There’s a lot at the touristy waterfront in San Diego, from the Maritime Museum (an old sailing ship) to the USS Midway Museum (a retired aircraft carrier.)

If you’re interested in naval history there’s a lot to see here. The USS Midway Museum particularly dominates the waterfront as it’s the size of a skyscraper tilted on its side, with a bunch of airplanes on top.

Personally I wasn’t interested in any of this, and just wanted a nice place to take a stroll while I waited for the check in time at my Airbnb.

 
Unconditional Surrender statue
 

There’s a bunch of sculptures to see near the Midway Museum on the waterfront. Right around the corner is the “Unconditional Surrender statue” of a Navy man holding and kissing his wife or girlfriend (I hope) in his arms. It’s based on a well known photo.

Every visiting couple seems to feel the need to recreate the sculpture/photo beneath it while asking someone else to take a photo of the two of them.

Alternately people with selfie-sticks were taking photos in front of the sculpture. Not sure what the idea was behind the sculpture, but it found a use a photo hot spot.

 
Bob Hope salute
 

Nearby is a multimedia installation described as a salute to Bob Hope, just across from The Fish Market restaurant. A statue of comedian Bob Hope stands in front of a crowd of a statue of veterans.

An old soundtrack plays of Bob Hope entertaining his audience of soldiers during World War II. Unfortunately the audio is not well preserved and is difficult to understand. During my visit nobody was laughing. Even if we could hear the jokes clearly, would we understand them? Was Bob Hope’s material even funny to begin with? Unfortunately what might have been an interesting installation left me with more questions than answers.

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class="post-6901 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-misc tag-photos tag-san-diego tag-travel">

San Diego first impressions… again

December 27th, 2018

It’s been over a decade since my last visit to San Diego — and that was for a conference so it doesn’t count. (Especially if I leave out the part where I spent time at the beach and visited the zoo.)

 
First impressions of San Diego
 

Today I arrived in San Diego for a little post-Christmas vacation. Stepping off the bus from the airport, the very first thing I saw: someone had flipped a Bird (of the scooter variety) next to a fire hydrant. Does that count as two parking violations in one?

Turns out electric kick scooters now dominate the sidewalks of San Diego. It’s a little hard to blame the scooter riders for hogging sidewalks as bike lanes still aren’t a thing in Southern California, despite the bike-friendly weather year round.

 
One aspect that feels all too familiar from back home in San Francisco is the obvious inequality spilling out onto into the physical landscape. On the one hand you have new buildings springing up everywhere, an indicator of a healthy economy; but on the other there’s a noticeable homeless population, many of which clearly aren’t getting the help they need.

It’s strange to me as a lifetime Californian that we keep ignoring homelessness. I can’t think of a major city in the state where it’s not a serious issue. I know it’s complicated, but statewide problems need statewide responses.

 
There is an aspect of visiting San Diego I found pleasantly surprising. Just like in Los Angeles, the public transit exceeded my (admittedly low) expectations. I’d intentionally booked myself an Airbnb near a light rail station.

Yet at the airport when I went to buy a light rail pass I was immediately confused by the ticket machine. So I turned around and asked a woman at the information booth about the machine, and she was just as confused as I was! Not a good first impression to say the least.

After figuring out together how to buy a Compass Card and load a multi-day pass on to it, I noticed the machine is identical to the ones we have at San Francisco Muni stations. Sure enough it’s also from Cubic Transportation Systems. Ugh.

Once I’d purchased a multi-day pass I found San Diego’s transit network shockingly nice. Adult day passes are only $5 currently, and multi-day prices are available for much less. The transit times predicted by Google Maps are often much more pessimistic than warranted. Wait times aren’t bad and there’s usually more than enough empty seats on the buses and trains.

I’ll have to see if this trend continues, but so far I’m impressed with San Diego’s pubic transit network. It’s worth noting they have a light rail station right at the border of Mexico for tourists planning on heading south of the border — or the opposite. Most of the on board announcements are in both English and Spanish.