We went to San Diego for 3 days in early June to support a friend running in the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon. Since this trip had a purpose, we based our accomodation location to be close to the race and close to my friend. As with most small trips, we booked everything on our own through America West Airlines (now, through two mergers American Airlines) and the Starwood Preferred Guest website.
Flights:I am a relatively big fan of the Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix since it is laid out in a simple fashion, but I must admit that on this particular trip, I was less than pleased. There is major construction going on surrounding the airport due to expansion and everything was poorly marked. We had never flown America West before, and it turned out to be in a different terminal than we normally fly out of, so we were slightly lost. We pulled into the wrong parking garage, made several wrong turns, but finally made it to the correct garage. Once in the terminal, we waited in a long security line, and made our way to the gate, which seemed like an endless walk. Once at the gate, we saw a swarm of people. Apparently, our flight was a commuter flight, so there were several flights leaving from each gate since the planes do not connect to a gate. If one plane arrives late or early, everything gets thrown off. Well, this time, it was VERY thrown off. We finally boarded our 9am flight at 11am. We figured that we could have driven to San Diego in the same amount of time it took us to fly there AND we wouldn’t have had to deal with cranky, crabby people. One man even screamed very loudly at a lady behind the desk and spouted obscenities in front of many little children. Of course, grumpy people meant grumpy airline employees and the ladies working the desk were less than cordial to pretty much everyone. However, once on the flight, it was uneventful and a quick 45 minutes. The San Diego airport was much less crowded and we were in and out of there FAST.
Our return flight was on time and again, very uneventful. Getting to the airport, however, was very stressful. We had a 2pm flight and left the marathon around 12pm. The marathon finish line was directly behind the airport. We could not find a taxi anywhere, nor would any of the taxi companies pick up their phones. So, we managed to find a ride to the airport on the Enterprise Rent-a-car shuttle, get a taxi at the airport to the hotel a mile away, picked up our bags, and made it to the airport at 1:15pm. We amazingly made our flight and had time to spare!
The Sheraton San Diego Marina and Hotel: We arrived at our hotel after driving up to the OC earlier in the day to visit a friend, who is a designer for Obey Clothing (read: discounted clothes for me!) When we pulled up to the hotel, I was confused because I would have thought the East Tower and West Tower were connected and all in one building. This was not the case. I had made my reservation for the East Tower, so I checked in there. However, I came to learn that Starwood upgraded me, and I was now located in the West Tower. We were tired and on a timetable, so this irritated me. When we got to the West Tower, I walked in and noticed right away that the nicer of the two towers was the East Tower. The decor appeared much older and worn in the West Tower, and the East Tower had more restaurants and amenities. While I never got to see the guest rooms in the East Tower, our room in the West Tower was far from wonderful. The decor was a nautical coastal theme, with blues and tans, but the furniture was more like a 1960s nautical theme rather than a modern look. The carpet was very worn and the furniture was very old and needed some serious updating. The bathroom appeared to be renovated more recently, but the decor in the bathroom did not match the rest of the room. The granite was a black and tan color and the tiles in the shower were almost pink. The thing that got me the most was that the tiles had a mosaic design, but the mosaic was painted on, rather than all separate tiles. We were also told we had a city view overlooking the bay from the 10th floor. This was true- we had a view overlooking the bay, but the view was not of the city. We looked directly over NAS North Island. I am very into the military, especially since my job is related to it, but this was hardly a scenic view. I also didn’t care for the roaring of a speeding F-16 jet flying within 50 ft of my balcony while I was on it. I was partially deaf and had a headache for the rest of the evening. Love F-16s, but not when I thought it was about to crash into my hotel room. I tried to enjoy our evening on Coronado Island, but my head was literally pounding. If there was anything I liked about San Diego at all, it was Coronado Island. I would consider going back to stay at Hotel Del Coronado for a few nights during warmer weather, but I’d be very skeptical to leave the island.
On Saturday, we had attempted to get up and head to the famous San Diego Zoo, but I was still not feeling terribly well after my jet incident. After a mediocre continental room service breakfast, I returned to bed for a nap. After my nap, I showered and grabbed lunch at Quinn’s, which is a sports bar in the East Tower. The food was pretty good and not too terribly expensive (my chicken fingers were less than the continental breakfast!) We then headed off to the famous Balboa Park, which was not very easy to navigate, extremely crowded, and parking was nowhere to be found. After driving through and getting frustrated with the traffic and the roads, we decided to head over to Old Town. Once again, frustrating because of the masses of people. We just aren’t into crowds, so this turned us off big time. Needless to say, I was VERY disappointed in the city, and the park, up to this point. At that point, my friend called and we met up for dinner at Gordon Biersch Brewery. The food was pretty good and after a very filling meal, we called it an evening.
Sunday was the big day! The marathon began at 6:30am, but we didn’t head to the finish line until 9:30am. The finish line was located on a Marine base, so security lines were LONG. Luckily for me, I have a community access card, so we went in another entrance and beat out the lines! My friend ended up finishing around 11:45am, and we immediately had to leave to catch our flight. The story surrounding are near-miss with the flight is above!
So, after all the delayed flights, high strung people, loud jets, crazy traffic, big crowds, and one-way streets, I survived San Diego. It’s definitely not one of my favorites, and I doubt I’ll ever be back again, unless we confine ourselves to La Jolla or Coronado. It was nice seeing my friend, though, and being there to support her through this milestone. For that very reason, I’ll go to the ends of the Earth and even back to San Diego again 🙂