The other day, Mrs Romance and I were on the road driving around the Daylesford region of country Victoria. It’s a lovely area of Australia, and if you ever get the chance, go for it (here’s our wrap of Daylesford and 7 reasons why you should go there).
Anyway, whilst on the road, Mrs R spotted what she thought were sheep in a nearby field. Perfectly natural in this rural part of the world. She got very excited… but they turned out to be goats. This is neither here nor there I suppose. Mrs R was brought up in the city and – by her own admission – her knowledge of wildlife was limited to roadkill and whatever she could see at the Easter Show.
Realising this case of mistaken identity, Mrs R became quite reflective: “You don’t get black and white sheep, do you?” she pondered.
“No, not really. Usually just one or the other.”
And then came the bombshell that blew my mind.
Are sheep all albinos?
There is no response to that.
So anyway, California! Here we are. Our second week. Let the diary begin!
Monday morning. We’re still kind of buzzing over the weekend that just happened. Not only the Halloween night out in San Diego, which was not only epic but incredible fun, but also the Saturday and Sunday festivities in Old Town San Diego.
The Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos – or Day of the Dead – is incredible. Everyone dresses up, has their faces painted in the sugar skull designs and hangs out in Old Town. It’s a kind of recognition and remembrance of lost loved ones, but it’s not maudlin or gloomy; it really is a celebration. There’s a parade through the main street lead by a mariachi band.
The procession starts in the park – one of the oldest parts of Old Town (guess that makes it pretty old then!) and finishes at the old cemetery, with graves there dating back to the first settlers in the 1800s.
The skeletons dotted about the place – like this one – seem a bit macabre at first, but it’s not like that at all. The colours and symbolism in the costumes and in the decorations all lead towards quite a fascinating spectacle.
Of course, with every celebration, even one remembering the dead, there’s a cocktail! Our margaritas at dinner are from the Dia de los Muertos special menu… and they’re not bad!
Mrs Romance has decided to go exploring on her own today. I’ve followed suit, but she’s the one taking pictures! This is the Museum of Man in San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park.
Mrs Romance and I have decided to go for a walk around town together today. We’ve popped into an Urban Outfitters store and found this on display: it’s Mrs Romance’s book Buns, Braids & Twists. In America, this is what her Hair Romance book’s called. In the UK, it’s called The Hairstyle Directory and in Australia – of course – it’s called Hair Romance!
But how cool’s this – Mrs R is very excited. Especially as her book’s next to Lena Dunham’s and Amy Poehler’s autobiographies! Well done, Mrs Romance!
To celebrate seeing Mrs R’s book (and to nurse our feet back to normality after a pretty epic stroll), we pop into a little bar in our suburb Hillcrest for a drink. These frozen margaritas are $10.50 for the pair – and there’s about 750ml in each glass! I think we’ll be coming back to this place.
It’s called Fiesta Cantina on University and 3rd Avenue. We’d link to their website, but they’ve got horrible autoplay music that annoys us. The bar’s really good though! 🙂
I’ve had to get up and return the rental car this morning. It’s quite close to the airport, but since the airport’s quite close to town, I decide to walk home. On my way, I discover this most unusual street. You see, anything really can happen in America!
We go in search of breakfast today. There’s so much to choose from around town we’re kind of overwhelmed. In the end we duck into a place called the Fig Tree Cafe. By this stage we’re calling it brunch – but with a view to going out for lunch with one of our friends, we try and keep the meal small.
What I’m expecting to be just a sandwich turns out to be bloody enormous! This is my ‘Eggwich’. It has at least two fried eggs in it, a pile of baby spinach, mozzarella cheese, crispy bacon in (what I suspect is fried) brioche bread. It also comes with a pile of house potatoes… yup, I’m full.
By the way, I’ve learnt now what this ‘over easy’ business means. It’s similar to what you call steak that’s cooked to different levels. ‘Over easy’ is really runny yolk, ‘over medium’ is where the yolk’s cooked through but near liquid in the middle and ‘over hard’ is where the yolk’s broken and cooked solid.
The ‘over’ part means the egg’s flipped and cooked on both sides. Otherwise it’s ‘sunny side up’. This style’s risky though if you don’t like the white a little runny, which is rank as far as I’m concerned. No need for snotty eggs. Bleh!
So it’s lunch time, and we and our friend Mona head out to Mission Beach, which is pretty close to the city. We have a stroll along the sand then back up to the promenade for lunch. Considering my vast brunch only took place about two hours ago, I’m a bit worried about what to eat.
Very sensibly, Mrs Romance and I opt for something to share. Nachos. Can’t be too filling, can it? Mona also gets some chicken wings (she loves her wings, does Mona!). But when our nachos comes, it comes in a metal tray and looks more like Kilimanjaro than food. This is the biggest plate of anything I’ve ever seen. It’s absurd.
And it’s not like it’s just topping splodged on a big pile of chips. No no no. This has been carefully layered so that each time you think you’ve defeated it and eaten all the good bits, there’s more to go. It’s a bit like Tetris. You think you’ve finished it, then another level starts.
There’s no way even the three of us can get through this behemoth, so we box up what’s left (as in most of it) and there’s supper and probably breakfast sorted!
Here’s Mission Beach. Beautiful, ins’t it? It leads on from Pacific Beach, which stretches back behind us, heading north. We can’t believe this is November!
Today we decide to change office location. This is Hotel del Coronado on the west side of Coronado – kind of a peninsular that runs parallel to the mainland. This hotel is enormous and quite lovely too. There’s a bar here that over-looks the beach, so that’s where we’re heading, laptops in hand!
Here’s the bar in Hotel del Coronado. We’ve been here most of the day. Now it’s sunset, so we pack up and make our way down to the beach for a walk along the water’s edge.
Mrs R has been snapping away like crazy getting some amazing shots with our new Olympus OM-D E-M1. It’s so much easier to use than her old DSLR. This even has a touch screen shutter option to make it easier to choose where you want the camera to focus… anyway, talking of focus, how beautiful does Mrs R look in this sunset?
The title pic at the top of this post’s also from tonight’s sunset. This really is a magnificent part of the world.
Finally! Our time has come. We’ve made it to an In ‘N’ Out Burger place! Mrs Romance has been talking about these burgers since the start of last year! I can see what all the fuss is about – my Double-Double’s very tasty. I’ve done a bit of snooping and it seems the Double-Double (double meat and double cheese) has been around since 1963, so it’s a tried and tested recipe!
I suppose you could say it’s the west coast’s version of Shake Shack on the east side of the country.
Today, we’re back in Balboa Park – in the Museum of Man that Mrs R photographed the other day. There’s an exhibition on the history of beer on, so naturally I’m interested! I’ve got to say, it’s a little underwhelming, though this wall of all the different words for beer is quite good. Under a lot of them there’s a little fact about beer.
The wall’s back drop to a bit of beer technology, showing how beer is made.
The rest of the museum’s quite interesting, with lots of different elements about where man has come from. There’s a pretty grisly Ancient Egyptian bit that has real mummified remains. Mrs R doesn’t like that sort of thing, but that’s ok – we’re off for a drink after this!
We’ve walked for a long time after the museum. We’ve walked all the way down Fifth Avenue, then up Fourth, down Third, up Sixth a bit – I think we’ve completely explored the Gaslamp Quarter, and only with two refuel stops.
Then we girded our loins – whatever that means – and hiked all the way back to Hillcrest and to Fiesta Cantina. Where we immediately bought two of these monsters. These are margaritas, but as they’re over 1 litre each (36oz), I prefer to call them ‘MEGARITAS’! We find ourselves drinking too many of these monsters and playing drag queen bingo (we didn’t win), giant Connect 4 (Mrs Romance is some kind of Connect 4 savant) and then charades/pictionary – which we won!
This morning we’ve decided to head to Pacific Beach – or PB to its friends. This is at the north end of Mission Beach and its nachos mountain. The pier – Crystal Pier – has a hotel on it! Well it’s more like two rows of bungalows and a street you can drive up anyway.
The views from under the pier are amazing and the water’s so refreshing. Today’s so hot again. Doesn’t seem like we’re heading for winter at all.
Tonight we’ve taken a trip back down to San Diego Old Town. We’ve been hankering for a bit of classic Mexican food – and more specifically, I’ve been hanging out for a cigar.
Mrs Romance has very nicely agreed to accompany me to the Churchill Cigar Lounge on San Diego Avenue. It’s the perfect place for a smoke – we even find a backgammon board there. Mrs R’s pretty good at that game as well as Connect 4, you know!
This morning we pay Little Italy a visit. They have a farmers’ market – ‘Mercado‘ – every week here and block off a whole road. The stalls are amazing. So much fresh produce that’s all so affordable too. Makes such a change from Sydney’s growers’ and farmers’ markets.
But best of all is the gluten-free cake stall. Mrs Romance picks up some awesome stuff for dessert… including gluten free s’mores cake! Un. Heard. Of!
For other things to do in San Diego, you might like to have a look at our First-Timer’s Guide to San Diego!
Dinner time! We haven’t had a cheese dinner for ages. So we buy in some proscuito, garlic sopressa and some salami, some gorgonzola, triple cream brie and some crackers. Of course, to drink Mrs R hits the rosé and I get stuck into the local beer.
The last word has to go to my favourite pic of the week – I spotted this van on the way back from dropping our hire car off at the rental company.
This is the perfect example of how important it is to research the name of your company before getting signage made. In America, ARS means nothing. Australia, NZ, the UK, the Rep. of Ireland, ARS Plumbing would suggest a service other than the one intended!
What’s the biggest margarita or nachos you’ve ever consumed? How many languages can you say the word ‘beer’? Are all sheep albinos? Tell us in the comments!