SAN DIEGO: A PEARL IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
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By: Sarity Gervais
The first time I heard of San Diego I was an impressionable teen. I love old movies and "The Mask of Zorro" was ancient enough to qualify. The movie is set in Spanish Southern California, circa 1910.  Although the film was shot mainly at the Century Fox Studios in Los Angeles, the set was beautifully made to look like old San Diego. Despite the black/white film, I saw glory and romance in the settings. The Spanish style homes captured my imagination and I developed a serious obsession with both San Diego and the then long-departed Tyrone Power.
Years later, I moved to LA. Needless to say my first week there I made an excited visit to this magical city. Driving on the road which caressed Mount Soledad revealed the most exquisite beauty. The nearer we got to it, the vista became more and more breathtaking. The blue ocean way down below with its glistening shorelines had a stunning fresh beauty and I was beaming in delight. Soon there were ancient remnants of haciendas on the side of the road and signs indicating the way to Old Town from La Jolla.
La Jolla is considered the "Jewel" of San Diego, surrounded on three sides by ocean atop the steep slopes of Mount Soledad. The temperate climate with its sea breeze and blue skies practically year around is ideal for the abundant outdoor activities. Whale watching, one of the best zoos in the world -SeaWorld and amazing beaches at Mission Bay for surfers and beach lovers. Year-round golf courses in Balboa Park and Torrey Pines, fishing (requiring a permit) and hiking in the abundant canyons and neighborhood parks. Air gliding and the Padres stadium amongst many other venues.
I just wanted to mention that we stayed at the Marriot La Jolla, which underwent a 17-million-dollar renovation in 2013 and is conveniently close to many of the above attractions. Being on the 15th floor (courtesy of Justin the wonderfully kind and attentive manager) I got a corner room with a large wrap-around balcony and an elegant welcome tray of fruit and soda water, courtesy of the house. You need anything outside the hotel? It's a skywalk away from the UTC mall. When you get home tired from all the outside activities, the most comfortable beds and linens await you. The staff was sweet, cheerily helpful and made me feel pampered and right at home. I recommend the Marriot La Jolla whole heartedly.
Now on to my greatest pleasure - Old Town. The whole district, also named the Gaslight district, is a living legacy of San Diego history. As you wander through Old Town's historic buildings, you may feel as if you are in a time machine going back in time 100 years. The whole area is irresistible, with a magical atmosphere especially at night with the white bulbs shining on the streets. Visit the old blacksmith shop, Seeley Stables, Stewart House, Estudillo House and the oldest schoolhouse in San Diego which is lit by gaslight, has exquisite old buildings renovated to their old glory and cobblestoned streets. The Old Globe Theater is here and if you want to see a world-class, truly incredible production, this a must go destination. This stunning city, with its variety of tone, color and culture is the perfect combination of the new and old, amid nature's most beautiful environments.
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