Disclaimer from 2018
This text is ancient history. It was written during my solo trip to the USA in 2012. I had just won a massive deal for the company I worked for but suddenly felt the weight of straining three years past on me. I ran too far, too fast. The trip was in part to find closure, distraction, energy, happiness and connect with the olden dream of living and working in America. Years have past and what remains of this trip are great memories, friends and the certainty to have at least tried something when I thought all energy was spent.
I went through this text and made some edits, added a comment or changed a picture. Otherwise it's reserved from a time, when Notebooks were still heavy
Southbound, San Diego can be reached within a two hour drive from Los Angeles. It lies close the Mexican border. During the drive and when entering San Diego's city limits, you don't really ever feel that you've left L.A. There is one stretch without infrastructure on the side of the road, when you pass the navy playground of Camp Pendleton and a Nuclear power plant directly at the sea, but for most the Interstate never narrows down to less than 8 lanes. So there is not much of the fabled relaxed US driving or sense of solitude to be found here.
An impression of San Diego
San Diego itself is lovely.
It still is a big city, the seventh biggest city in the US, but you can actually can go downtown and walk there. That is always a plus for me, as I think you only can experience a place when you walk it. My hostel, which was hyped on tripadvisor and recommended by Lonely Planet, was located in the Gas lamp quarter, a busy strip with bars and restaurant, policed heavily. Only problem was the parking, as there are no real free parking spots on the street. So you could either park the car for free in the bum area, where you shouldn't show your valuables after dark, or park the car for around $10-20 per day on a paid, guarded lot. I chose the later variant.
After checking in an changing my room with a calmer one. Sadly, in this room I couldn't close my window - so the sounds of perpetual city life found my ears also during the night. After sorting my arrival, I walked down to the part of the harbor, where the USS Midway is anchored permanently as a museum. Sadly it was closed, so I had to come back the next day.
Before I headed down to the harbor, I had a hard time finding a pre-paid SIM card for using in my phone. First Verizon told me sorry, we are CDMA only, then AT&T wanted to sign me up for a monthly plan but then told me it won't help for my iPhone anyhow. T-Mobile rescued me with a prepaid and daily plan. During my trip, I received local numbers for all the places, where I stayed a bit longer. In San Diego, I received a San Diego number. If you plan on traveling in the US and need data on your smartphone - which you should have, as data is important for maps, cheap calls and google - you can check out this page.
The USS Midway
DSC00969.jpg missing image from nuclear powered aircraft This nuclear-powered Aircraft carrier dumbed Osama Bin Ladin's body into the ocean
Then I walked through its tight spaces for so long, that I missed the bridge. During my tour of the ship I was stopped by a German couple and asked for the results of the Game of our team, which had just ended before. I guess the jersey of our national team and my deuter backpack gave me away as a German tourist. I don't mind that. I am a proud tourist.
DSC00987.jpg At the awesome bar called "Hamilton's tavern" with awesome locals introducing to the drafted art of local beer.
Walking through San Diego I didn't get the sense of walking through an old, European city. This expectation is unfair to any US city, but if a place is promoted by locals as being European or totally walkable, I assign European measures. San Diego offers an interesting mix of bars, restaurants and drops in the necessary financial district.
The city was surprisingly cold city. Which was a problem since I couldn't close my window. But I didn't spend too much time in my room anyway.
On my second night, I was picked up by a friend of John and driven to a bar in a residential area.
The bar offers to select from an insane amount of draft beer by local breweries and insanely good cheese sandwiches.
Beer and California
Let me take a little detour here and talk about beer and California.
Usually, Germans are quite arrogant. They are especially arrogant when it comes to beer.
The common stereotype, which is true for many beers sold across the States, is that Americans can't brew beer. All they are able to produce is just some yucky watered down bastard version of Altbier gone bad. But this ain't true. There goes another stereotype, another easy judgment dragged down the drain by actual experience.
Americans can create really, really good beers. There are a lot of microbreweries in California and no matter which town you go to, you can ask for the local beer and get the choice of hop beer with different amounts of hop (IPA beers), wheat beer and lager beer. Some even do Altbier. (Update 2018: When I returned to the States in 2015, Kölsch was all the rage. Good Kölsch at that, too. In the meantime, American hope has made its was to Germany. IPAs and beers with American hope are increasingly popular) All beers I tried were good, some even contained 10% of Alcohol. Yet, if you want to remain ignorant, you can continue claiming that only Germans know how to brew beer and especially Americans don't know how, but if you want to be cool, you accept that the Americans know how to do Whiskey (not Whisky) and beer.
DSC01002.jpg Awesome military firepower boom! bang! zoom!
The second full day I walked a bit more through the city and then drove to a little island just outside San Diego, called Coronado. Money and beauty jumps into your face right there. I wanted to chill by the fabled beach, but it was a day of June gloom and Marine layer, so I couldn't enjoy sun rays or a nice surf. I drove back to L.A. after that, avoiding the traffic and arriving safely back at the crib in Studio City.