What a day what a day!
San Diego is yet another Californian city where I could easily spend a week. Actually two weeks.
But I have a day, so here’s what I did:
I had booked a harbor cruise for the morning. My ticket didn’t even have a departure time listed. It just read, “Departure: 1 hour after ship arrives”.
I thought that meant one hour after our ship arrived, but I was wrong lol. So imagine my surprise when I rushed to be one of the first off the Majestic Princess, and there is no harbor cruise ship insight, and no one at the kiosk (which was supposed to be open according to the sign).
So I just said “screw it” and took a walk down San Diego’s embarcadero. Docked right by our ship is the mighty USS Midway, a huge USA warship from WWII turned into a museum. As such, there’s a maritime park surrounding the dock, including the “Greatest Generation Walk”, which consists of a bunch of monuments dedicated to WWII heroes from the USA. At the end of the pier is a statue of that iconic photo of the sailor and the nurse kissing. It’s sweet.
Heading back, I talked with one of the other visitors waiting. She said after calling a bunch of times, she was able to learn that our harbor cruise is leaving at 11am. Much different from my original plans but rarely do things follow schedule to a tee, you know?
After the Admiral Hornblower arrived at the dock, we waited for a long time while they prepared the boat. It shows its age, but the Admiral Hornblower is a huge yacht with plenty of rooftop deck space for everyone to sit or stand. I’m just happy it arrived and that the tour is real after all.
Harbor Cruise: South Bay
The tour was split into two parts: North and South Bay.
South Bay is pretty much all naval base. Our guide is really into the military, and told us about all the planes and warships with cool names, like “missile destroyer” and “stealth war ship”. My favorite fun fact is that some of the new warships are made of aluminum, so that they can sail in waters as shallow as 15 feet.
We also got to sail under the Coronado bridge in this segment of the tour. It’s a very standard looking bridge, but what’s really cool is that it’s got an 80 degree curve. Why? Because after 2 miles, cities get extra government funding for their bridges, so why not get some money and make an architectural anomaly while you’re at it?
Then we docked to let some people off and some people onboard for the second part of the tour: the North Bay, also dubbed “sea lion adventure”.
Harbor Cruise: North Bay
We did get to see sea lions pretty close up, and even got yelled at by Otis, the talkative sea lion. That really was a treat, I think sea lions sound so adorably stupid when they bark.
These aren’t the only critters living in the bay. It’s also home to about 100 green sea turtles and a family of bottleneck dolphins, though I don’t know how or why they live here since this bay gets so much traffic.
This segment of the tour is also mostly facts about the naval base, but we did see the Bottlenose dolphins jumping in front of the newest warship. Talk about juxtaposition!
We even got to see a few warplanes (hornets) take off from the base. They are loud.
By the time the harbor cruise ended, it was 1pm and so I ran onboard the cruise ship for lunch, then hopped right back off to see more of San Diego. I bought a day pass with Pronto, so could ride any trolley or bus for the rest of the day.
My first stop after lunch was to Old Town, a state historic park with tons of Spanish-style buildings and preserved buildings from the original settlement titled “The Birthplace of California”. The entrance to the park is a garden with winding paths that has lots of info about first peoples of California.
Next I visited Los Reyes, a small collection of craftsmen’s shops, restaurants, and more with a big stage in the middle where traditional shows are performed throughout the week. The cactus garden in Los Reyes is out of this world and I didn’t want to leave! But there was so much more to explore so I moved on.
They’ve got a traditional Spanish-style Californian home you can walk through, amongst many, MANY other buildings. Seriously, I feel as though it’d take 4 days just to go through all of them.
Some other places in Old Town that I did check out are the carriage museum (free!) and the donkey stables.
Next I had a very, VERY difficult decision. Do I go to Balboa Park, or La Jolla? I honestly had no clue which to choose since people rave about both, but since I love nature and wildlife, I chose La Jolla.
I’m glad I chose what I did. La Jolla is an absolute MUST VISIT in San Diego!
It took about an hour to get to La Jolla, which was a lot but it seems like that’s how long it takes to get anywhere in California. It was a little difficult to find the beach once I got there. So much of the coast is private property and so I actually passed by the narrow path google maps was telling me to go down before I actually found it.
But when I did, I knew I’d made the right choice to come to La Jolla.
When I reached the end of the path, I’d arrived right at La Jolla Cove. I’ve always wanted to snorkel in a kelp forest, and so I planned to snorkel here, but it was getting late in the day and the water was COLD, so I vowed to save it for another time. But snorkeling isn’t the highlight of this park, it’s the sea lions!
Dozens and dozens of California Sea Lions perch on the rocky cliffs and spend the day barking or napping away. I’ve never seen so many sea lions in one place, and it is really such a joy to hear their dorky little barks. There are also a couple of sea caves you can walk through, but I could only walk partway through one because there was a sea lion right outside the cave!
With my remaining time, I took off along the coastline paths of La Jolla. The cliffs are covered in flowers and spotted with cormorant and seagull nests. It’s like a treasure trove of animals!
The next coastline-access point led down the rocky cliffs to some rocks where sea lions were just hanging out. The signs indicate that as long as the sea lions aren’t visibly uncomfortable or distressed by your presence, you can approach them. I didn’t want to get to that point though, so hung back a little from the crowds. Still, some of the sea lions are curious, and they actually came up to get a closer look at us!
Just look at this little baby:
Continuing further down the path, I found the best place yet- the Harbor Seal beach! Unlike the sea lions, rules regarding the Harbor Seals in La Jolla are very strict. Why? Because it’s pupping season!
Mama harbor seals will actually abandon their babies if people get too close to them, and so they block off access to the beach in April and May. Still, there’s a pier you can walk down to see the little families from above. I actually almost passed away from how cute these motherfathers are.
They’re like little sausage links that only know how to yawn and roll around. I love them!
They can be all different colors, from white, to brown, to salt-and-pepper colored. And the babies are precious. Maybe I’m wrong but I swear this baby seal was smiling at me!!!
Since I somehow still had time left before I needed to get back to the ship, I hiked a short distance to the La Jolla Tide Pools.
To be fair, I didn’t pick the best time of day to go, since according to a frequent visitor, the tide was high. But still, I’m so thrilled to be here. If you like exploring even a little, you’ll adore jumping and climbing around the rock formations in search of critters. Some of the pools are shallow, and some go down as far as you can see.
I saw clams, urchins, crabs, and even a few anemones in the tide pools! But I guess I kept wandering too close to the shore, because while I was freaking out (with joy) over a little anemone, I got bitch-slapped by a wave, then slipped and fell on my bum. Pretty embarrassing, but at least I was wearing my rain jacket!
After seeing as many tide pools as possible, I took a minute to just enjoy the beginnings of the sunset over the water. La Jolla is unbelievably beautiful.
I didn’t stay for the whole sunset since I was by myself and did not want to be out and about after dark. Maybe I shouldn’ve moved a little faster, because I just missed a bus back to the port of San Diego, and had to wait like 25 minutes for the next one.
Even though I logically had plenty of time to make it back on the boat (onboard call time was 9pm), I couldn’t help but freak out internally that I somehow wouldn’t make it back in time and be stranded in the dark. I tried to enjoy views from the bus on the way back, but the fear definitely made that more difficult.
I did make it back to the port area in plenty of time, and only had to walk about 5 minutes in the almost-dark. Nonetheless, it was a glorious feeling going through security and getting back on the comfort of the ship.
Unreasonable, self-induced panic-y situations like this (which did happen a couple of times throughout the trip) made me feel as though a cruise was a good choice for my first truly-solo trip. Having a familiar place to return to each day was good for this nervous girl’s mental heath.
Dinner in the Allegro Dining Room
I feel as though my “dinner was great!” summaries are getting redundant, though that sentiment was nonetheless true for tonight’s dinner at the Allegro Dining Room.
I had a local seafood salad, goat cheese flan, and seafood medley. Then at the insistence of the waitstaff, I tried both the caramel pot and the “floating islands” for dessert. The caramel pot was some sort of flan/custard heavenly thing, and the floating islands were three meringue puffs floating on vanilla custard. Both desserts were amazing even though I could only try a few bites of each since I was so full!
And then guess what? The staff gave me a sack of cookies to take back to my room! I tried to tell them I was full and didn’t want to waste food but they told me that these are for, “In case you want a snack later”. Maybe they felt bad for me since I was all alone, but I will never, ever forget their generosity and thoughtfulness. I wish I’d booked every dinner at Allegro now!
Although I really don’t think I’ll be able to eat these cookies anytime soon because the moment I eat too much sugar, I get rewarded with terrible, all-day stomach aches.
Winning (a round of) the ‘This or That’ Game Show!
Sound the alarms! WTB won at something!
I almost didn’t go to the game show, I sort of wanted to go to bed after this very eventful day, but figured that passively watching wouldn’t require too much physical or mental energy.
The “This or That” game show involves listening to a song, and guessing when it was released out of two options. Thus, choosing this or that year. Audience members could participate, and there were prizes on the line, so I went up there with the crowd.
Similar to the rest of the princess music selection, most of the songs with a few exceptions were from eras too early for me to really know. So most of it involved guessing. In the third round, I managed enough correct guesses to win! The reward? The illustrious prize of a notebook!
It felt good even though this competition required more luck than skill, at least in my case.
While walking back to my room, I thanked the host and told him I was gonna write all my innermost secrets in the journal, to which he handed me a Princess-themed pen and said, “this should help you get started!” such a nice thing to do. I love this cruise line.
While I definitely won’t be writing secrets in it, I will be bringing it along on my next trip!
Good night everyone, I’m too tired to write a snappy outro.