Saturday, April 27, 2013

Old Town San Diego ~ California ~ U.S.A.

Why we love rv’ing is not likely a secret to anyone who has read this blog.  There are so many places to see that offer incredible sights and experiences but I must say that San Diego, California is definitely one of my favorite cities in the US.  It has been so long since we visited San Diego so I had a long list of what to see but in our few short days there, although we didn’t see everything, we did see lots.

Photo taken from corner of Washington Square
Calhoun Street in Old Town San Diego, CA
Old Town San Diego is a must-see.  It pays tribute to the years of 1821 to 1872 when this was the heart of the community.  The central park called Washington Square is surrounded by buildings, some of which are original and now home to museums and shops.  Historic tours are offered that will give an insight into what life was like back then.  We were short on time so we didn’t participate this visit, but will next time. 
This is in Washington Square, the center of Old Town San Diego, CA
Cannon in Washington Square at Old Town San Diego, CA
The square was where fiestas and other entertainment like bull fights were held.  The cannon sits under the US flag that was raised by a U.S. Navy Lieutenant in 1846 and leaves a reminder of battles fought. The U.S. had declared war on Mexico and the town was won back several times until the war ended in 1848 establishing the boundary between the two countries. 
Site made popular by novel
La Casa de Estudillo 
Jose Antonio Estudillo, a Spanish aristocrat, was one of the wealthy residents and built this adobe in 1829. This building, now a museum, was restored in 1910 and became a big tourist draw to the area that had been largely abandoned when the new city was developed.  It became a California Historical Landmark in 1932. 
The view taken from the door of the room
Display rooms of Museum of La Casa de Estudillo
 The museum includes beautiful rooms that show what their home looked like as well as servant’s quarters and a chapel. It was used as a sanctuary for women and children during the armed conflicts of 1846. This showplace has been promoted as the “Ramona Marriage Place” after a fictional marriage took place here in a novel of 1884.  
The big hotel stands at the corner of Calhoun and Mason Streets
Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego, CA
The Cosmopolitan Hotel is considered one of the most important buildings in all of California due to its history and is called a cultural mosaic, as are other parts of the Old Town San Diego.  The Mexican adobe structure dates from 1827 and the upper level wood framed dates from 1869 to 1888. The multi million dollar restoration was completed a few years ago and offers full service restaurant and saloon as well as guest rooms filled with 1860’s antique furniture. 
Flowering plants, cactus and succulents at gateway
Entrance to Fiesta de Reyes in Old Town
Tucked over in the far corner from the entrance into Old Town is the Fiesta De Reyes. I don’t know the literal translation but according to some definitions, that is the Celebration of Kings held in January in Hispanic and Latin cultures.  To me, it invites me to come in and celebrate what I see before me! 
more plants to enjoy
Bandstand in Square at Fiesta de Reyes
What a wonderful splash of colors to greet us.  You will feel a festive spirit and see a square that features a stage for entertainment surrounded by gift stores, artwork, gardens and restaurants.  They offer daily entertainers from folk dancers to mariachi bands. 
Figure appears to be watching the passers by
Life size artwork on display
It is a wonderful place to eat or to look around their little shops. There are several quirky art pieces to enjoy in this great place as well as some magnificent ones, too.  Just savor the aromas and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere in there.  
pics of different locations in the square of Fiesta de Reyes
Flowers, shops and walkways at Fiesta de Reyes
The sun shines into this quaint little square filled with lots of color and an amazing garden of all kinds of beautiful plants that make it a cozy spot to just sit and enjoy the ambience of the Old Town.  This is what I remember from a long ago visit and it shall always stand out in my mind as being the real heart of the Old Town
The musicians sing for those eating in the restaurant
Serenaders in Fiesta de Reyes
We enjoyed a delicious lunch and were even serenaded by a couple of musicians, who do have a sign taped on their guitars that they accept tips.  That was the cheesy part but they were good and worth it!  What a great way to finish our visit to Old Town San Diego.

Old Town San Diego was easy to access off I-5 in San Diego, CA.  We also found that parking was free in several locations within the square mile of Old Town, always a great thing!
Our next stop was the Heritage Park of Victorian homes, visit there with us.  We then spent some time on the San Diego Waterfront, so many sights to see.


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