The Traveling Steve's

Party week in San Diego

It’s Thursday night as I write this, and am packing up and heading home to get some sleep before taking  my early 6:20am flight in the morning to Phoenix and connecting to Orlando at 8:55am.  I’ve been in San Diego this week on business and have had a wonderful time. As you read this post it will seem like I did no work this week, but I was actually quite busy in the day, but made up for it with some evening San Diego fun!  No, I don’t often go out like I did every night this week when traveling on business, but when you’re in a great city such as San Diego, and working with a fun co-worker, it’s nice to get out a bit now and then.I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Downtown Bayside, which is a very short distance to the airport, across the street from the Bay, walking distance to Little Italy, and a short ride to Downtown and the Gas Lamp district.

I worked this week with my co-worker Patrick from Rochester, NY, and while we worked hard during the day, we did manage to have fun touring around our San Diego neighborhood at night. Patrick had gotten a nice upgrade from National Car rental, so by day we toured in style to the job site in a beautiful SUV Lexus.  Back at the hotel after work, he valeted the car (only valet parking available at $40 a night – yikes!) so we either walked to dinner or took a Lyft at night.

The Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites Hotel (a dual branded hotel) is only a few weeks old, and everything was fresh and new.  The first room I was assigned was a nice King bedded room, but it did not have a view of the Bay; rather a dismal view of a construction crane, old buildings and the railroad tracks.  It did have a view of the planes as they approached the San Diego Airport, which was just a mile or two away.

I went back to the desk and requested a ‘Bay-view’ room, and was quickly accommodated with a 5th floor Bay-view, but with two double beds instead of a King.  I much preferred the second room (533) which had a side corner view of downtown and a floor to ceiling window view of the Bay across the street.  The staff at this hotel was wonderful, and ‘checked-in’ on us each evening as we looked for places to go for dinner.  Each night we tried a different area of San Diego to eat and drink, and all were fun and happy places!

The first night we made a 3 pub stop tour thru Little Italy, a short walk from the hotel.  We started with a four sampler at Bolt Brewery, and then followed up with a couple more of the mini $2 sampler brewskis.  So many choices, and so little time! The two lady bartenders there were fun to talk with, and we chatted with an off-duty Skywest pilot who was seated next to me at the bar.  We traded airline stories including the new of the day about the United Airlines fiasco where a passenger was literally dragged off the plane for refusing to get bumped for an airline crew.  I could write a whole post on that United incident – absolutely unbelievable – but will skip that for now.  Everyone has their share of airline horror stories, but that one definitely made the top of the talked about list!

Bolt Brewery was having a ‘painting night’ which they do occasionally, and customers who have signed up for the event are instructed on how to paint a designated painting, led by an artist who encourages them, as well as the beer that the patrons consume while painting!  It looked like a lot of fun, and they have something similar at our local mall, but paired with vinos and paintings.  I watched the people paid, and everyone seemed to have a fun time, and the paintings did actually resemble the artist’s painting on display.

After heading out of Bolt, we went to a charming small wine bar cottage – M Winehouse – for a wine flight.  

The French-native wine-tender that served us was a hoot and she served us well with some great reds.  

This intimate venue was a social-friendly place as well, and here we met an off-duty Flight Attendant!  No more United flight stories we promised her and she laughed.  She worked for Jet Blue which has a huge training base in Orlando.

After finishing our vino we had dinner at a pizzeria up the street.  While I’m watching my carbs from the bread (after blowing my carb allowance on brewskis and vino (LOL!)) I splurged for the delicious brick oven pepperoni pizza.  

The next night we took a ‘Lyft’ to the Gas Lamp district; a bargain ride for $6 from the hotel.  Compared to Little Italy, I didn’t like the Gas Lamp area as much, although we had a great time.   While the Gas Lamp area was colorful with all of the light-up bicycle ‘taxi’s, street lights and signs, it was very crowded and it had a more upscale and pricey, borderline snobby atmosphere compared to Little Italy.   The restaurants were packed and all had waits, but we did manage to find a decent place with live music and good burgers.  Florent was a casual venue with high ceilings, big screen TV’s, live music and great food.  We enjoyed our burgers and brewskis there very much! After heading out of Florent, we walked a bit, before catching a Lyft back to our hotel. Our return Lyft driver said he avoids the Gas Lamp on weekends as it’s even way more crowded than the weeknight we were there, and it’s hard to navigate with the crowds.  We did enjoy strolling around the busy streets and people watching, as well as taking a few tourist photos, but Patrick and I agreed we both like Little Italy more.

So on our last night in San Diego, we returned to Little Italy, and I was back in my comfort zone.  We started at a wine tasting bar – Vino Carta – and had some Ok, but rather unmemorable French wines; although for the price – $10 for a flight of four, we couldn’t complain. The service and atmosphere was friendly and we enjoyed our tastings.  They weren’t bad vinos, but two were Rose-blush wines, and the two reds were so-so. It wasn’t as nice as the wine cottage we went to earlier in the week, but for a quick stop it was fun.

The next stop was the famous brewery – Ballast Point Little Italy.  This place was very busy inside the main room, but it had a really fun outdoor garden patio area that we quickly settled into.  The patio had a sectional awning above it, which was perfect for viewing and hearing the roaring planes as they flew over our heads.  This location is the very final approach to the airport, and it was awesome watching the planes seemingly skim right over us.  Patrick went on-line to the web site ‘Flight Aware’ and kept track of the flights coming in which was really cool.  Having a beer flight under the awning and beautiful night was definitely a highlight of the week.  I bought a few souvenir glasses, while Patrick bought a nice sweatshirt.

We finished up our last night out with dinner at Filippi’s Pizza Restaurant.  I know; pizza twice in one week – but it was delicious!  The entrance is a bit strange, as you enter thru their narrow market shop.  Here we waited in line for perhaps 15 minutes, but it was definitely worth the wait, watching people also exit the restaurant by the same entrance we were waiting in, most with a carry-out box indicating the portions must be huge!  The restaurant itself seems like it would be a fire hazard with no other apparent doors as the place was quite large once inside, but I guess it’s been there for years and they are established enough to serve the many people in the enclosed space, with a couple fire exits for emergencies.  The pizza itself was to die for, and we really loved our farewell meal here in San Diego.

So after a quick walk back at the hotel, and now packing up for my early flight home tomorrow.  My first flight to Phoenix leaves at 6:20am, and I connect to Orlando, hopefully arriving on time at 4:15pm; a full day with the three hour time change.

So this ended a fun work week in San Diego.  Once in a while, it’s great to have fun on a business trip!  Buona notte from San Diego!



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