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arrival in San Diego, two missions, & the first GTG

My Hawaiian Airlines flight to San Diego Thursday afternoon was fine except for the woman sitting next to me who did not seem to understand the concept of personal space. The food was even pretty good (although it was non-edible on the way home). Pauline & Steve kindly offered to pick me up at the airport. Thank you Pauline & Steve!!

My flight arrived about 15 minutes late. I gave Pauline a call when I arrived. They were just arriving at the airport. I called a second time to let her know that I was at the carousel and that my bag had yet to come out. She said Steve was heading inside to look for me. Steve knew to look for someone holding a blue pillow. As she was describing what he was wearing, I noticed someone walking towards me with the same outfit. It was Steve! My bag still had not arrived although others were spinning around the carousel. Pauline was outside trying to find a parking space. I handed my cell phone to Steve while I continued to look for my bag. When my bag finally came out, Steve was gone. He and my cell phone were now somewhere outside. Fortunately the airport is quite small (or at least it appeared to be small when I arrived) and I found Steve and Pauline waiting for me outside.

This was the first time I had met Steve & Pauline (photo from Saturday night).
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They were so kind to not only pick me up from the airport but to also bring me a take out salad from the restaurant where they had dinner since I was arriving a little before 9pm when all the restaurants in San Diego would be closing and three big bottles of water for the weekend.

The ride from the airport to the Island Palms Hotel, where many of the Slow Travelers would be staying for the weekend get together (GTG) was quick. It was dark outside so I was not able to see much of San Diego. They drove me to the lobby where I checked in and then we drove to the building nearby where my room was located. The rooms at the Island Palms Hotel are pretty spread out in various buildings on both sides of the lobby.

Daytime view of the building/my room was on the far left/not shown in this photo:
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Steve helped me carry my bag to up to my room. Both Pauline & Steve were tactful with their comments about my room when I mentioned that I was lucky to reserve a King Marina Room View. I looked out my tiny balcony and saw a couple of boats along with cars in the parking lot. Pauline suggested that perhaps I might have been given the wrong room and encouraged me to call the front desk to ask for another room. I have never done this before! When I called the front desk, they sort of admitted that I was not given the room that I reserved and tried to blame it on the internet being down. I think they were hoping that I would not notice or say anything. They told me that they only had Marina View rooms with two queen size beds available instead of a king size bed. I told them that was fine.

We carried my bags back downstairs and I walked back to the lobby while they watched my bags. I was given the key to a new room in a different building (I don’t have a photo of this building). The second room was much nicer and ended up being located right below Pauline & Steve’s room. It also had the correct marina view. I left my bags in the room and we headed over to Judy/TourMama’s room where a few people were meeting after their dinner at The Vine.

Of course we had no idea which room Judy was in. I asked when I was checking in for the second time. We went to the room that I thought he said she was in. I put my ear up to the door and did not hear any noise. We were all too chicken to knock (or at least I was and if I remember correctly, Pauline & Steve did not want to knock either). There was a phone on the wall in the hallway. Pauline called the front desk again. I must have been jet lagged already as I mixed up the numbers for the room. Her room was on the next floor up. We went upstairs to her room. Still no noise though when I put my ear up to the door. Pauline called Colleen (from CA) and found out that they were just pulling in to the hotel driveway. We met them downstairs and then headed back up to the room. I think there were about 10 or 12 people total that met up in Judy’s room (all new friends to meet except for Judy & Bill who I met last summer while in Florence). We all settled in and chatted til about midnight. I unpacked after returning to my room and ended up getting to bed about two in the morning.

Friday morning arrived much to early! The sun was shining and the sky was blue. I was shocked however when I opened my sliding glass door and was met with chilly cold weather. A bunch of us were planning to meet at 10 by the lobby (which was 8 am Hawaii time) to visit either one or two of the California Spanish Missions. I put on layers, including my capri long undies, ate some nuts and a Luna Bar as I was too late to have breakfast, and walked to the lobby to meet everyone. We said hello and hugged as we recognized each other by screen name and then figured out passengers for each car. Colleen (from CA) drove me, Marta, and RuthK (a friend of Colleen). Thank you Colleen!!

One of the things I discovered during my trip to San Diego was how helpful the GPS gadgets can be when driving in unfamiliar territory. I may even be brave enough next time to rent a car after seeing how they work.

The first mission I visited was called the Mission San Diego de Alcala and was the first mission founded in San Diego.
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A few Slow Traveler blogs have already posted info/photos of some of the events/places visited during the Slow Traveler GTG. I am going to be a bit lazy when writing about some of my time in San Diego, linking to other blogs instead of reinventing the wheel as they say. Check out Marta's recent post to see some of her wonderful photos as well as to learn more info about the Mission San Diego de Alcala. I will do another post later on to share more of my photos of this mission.

After spending about an hour at the mission, we took a group photo:
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Rob, Ed, cubbies, Sharon L, girasoli, Yonka, David, Marcia, Pauline, Ruth, Colleen, Marta, Steve (Nico was missing and Wendy was the photographer)

Then we all drove to the nearby Fairmount Diner for lunch. I ordered a veggie sandwich, which was just ok (too heavy on the mayo and mustard for my taste), yummy kettle chips, and a strawberry shake.

After lunch, Colleen, Marta, Ruth, & I continued on to visit a second mission while everyone else either returned to the Island Palms or had other plans for the rest of the afternoon.

The second Spanish Mission we visited, Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, was founded by Father Lasuen on June 12, 1798 and soon became the largest of all of the California Spanish Missions.
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We were not supposed to take any photos inside, but we did sneak a couple of photos (with flash off of course) inside the church.
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I will do another post later on to share more photos of this mission.

*Updated - For more info on this mission, check out Marta's blog post on the Mission San Luis Rey.

After spending about an hour at the second misson, we drove back to the hotel. Getting ready for the first formal Slow Travel GTG event, a dinner at Jane & Ken’s with food prepared by Palma, I dressed in as many layers as possible since I would be outside the majority of the time and the temperature was supposed to get down into the upper 40′s – brrrrrrr!!! I was so excited for this event. Car pools were arranged in advance for this dinner since it was a 20 or so minute drive from the hotel. Pauline (& Steve) drove me, Colleen (from CA) and Ruth.

Brad (of Palma & Brad) greeted us at the door. We picked up our name tags and drink glasses for the evening. We were shown a room to leave our coats and bags and then went out back to meet everyone. It was so exciting to finally meet so many more new Slow Travelers, almost all who I felt like I have known for a long time now through either blogging or Slow Travel or both as well as to spend time again with a few Slow Travelers I have already met before either here in Hawaii or during my trips to Italy.

The food was FABULOUS - check out Palma's blog post for all of the food photos. I don't know what happened, but somehow I missed seeing the cute little penguins. It was chilly and by the end of the night COLD outside. I spent a lot of time by the heat lamps as well as some time inside warming up. Time went by much too fast. When the evening was finally over, we were given goodie bags on our way out filled with info on San Diego, maps, food items, a bottle of water, and the winter edition of magazine edible Santa Barbara. Even though it was cold, I had a wonderful time! It was not hard to say goodbye though as there were two more formal events scheduled on Saturday and Sunday.

Comments (9)

Sounds like a fabulous time!
BTW, I love my GPS, and I don't think I'd know how to drive without it.

This really sounds like a lot of fun. Glad you got to attend it. Those mission churches are so beautiful! Can't wait to hear more about it.

Barb Cabot:

I love the photos and will try to see the mission some time on my next visit to San Diego. Happy times that I will long remember. So nice to meet you though it felt like I knew you already.

sandrac:

Gosh, it sounds like it was really chilly -- sorry to hear that! But the sky looks so beautifully blue in your photos, and it sounds like you had such a great time.

A great time, that is, after the hotel business was settled. Sad to say, but I've gotten in the habit now of room-shopping. I almost always ask to see other rooms, because I've become a bit skeptical about hotel management. It's a shame, but so often it seems they offer something second-rate to begin with -- I suppose, testing to see what you'll put up with.

Not always, of course. My hotel in Rome seems to offer a good room at the outset. Same in perugia. But other places, I've really been surprised at what they try to get away with.

I'm glad that you found the room you were promised. And I'm looking forward to hearing more!

It was a lovely day wasn't it. You have a great write up of the Friday events and thanks for the link. I really enjoyed the first Mission. I think I like the smaller more intimate buildings. The second one was interesting but seemed a little less approachable.

I am also having second thought about GPS. It was a challenge for me to drive around without it. I had a bunch of google map printouts but I had to somewhat go on instinct once or twice. After I left Jane's on Friday night, I went left when I should have gone right and ended up going the wrong direction. It was about 15 minutes until I finally admitted that I was going to the wrong way. Fortunately, I only had to turn around and backtrack on the same road and I made it back without an issue after that. But a GPS would have been nice. Next time.

Super - thanks for posting! Wish I were closer....m

Candi, I am thinking a GPS may even help me on Oahu! Am going to have to check them out.

Annie, you would have loved visiting the missions.

Barb, I also felt like I already knew you (and Mike) before we even met!

sandra, I did have a good time despite the temps. I am just not a cold weather person so it seems to affect me more than others. I do think the hotel was trying to see if I would be ok with the first room, especially with their lame internet down excuse. If that was the case, they would have told me that they had no clue what type of room I requested. I wonder how many other times I was taken by the first room game.

Marta, I also liked the first mission better. I am so sorry to hear about your problems driving back to your rental from Jane's. I do the same thing all the time (taking that one (or sometimes many) wrong turn(s). I would have been driving around for hours though and would not have been able to just back track like you did. I didn't realize you didn't have a GPS with you. I wonder if it is an option at all car rental places now.

Sounds like everyone had such a great time! I'm still bummed that I couldn’t attend the gathering but I had other plans that in the end got cancelled because I've been sick since last Friday with a nasty cold. Spring break and I’m sick. :(

I love missions but only have managed to visit two, the one in San Juan Capistrano and one in Tucson. I really want to visit these two on my next trip to San Diego.

Maria, it would have been great to meet you. Too bad you weren't able to attend. Sorry to hear that you are sick. I visited 1 or 2 other missions other in California many years ago but can't remember which ones now! I think you would love visiting both of these.

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