All I want for Christmas is a trip to San Diego

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January 5th 2009
Published: January 5th 2009
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Californian ChristmasCalifornian ChristmasCalifornian Christmas

Could this be the only un-flocked tree in CA?
Christmas was coming and the goose was getting fat, but I couldn’t really give a Figgie pudding myself as I was off to San Diego to visit my most AWESOME brother for the Christmas festivities. Luckily, my brother (did I mention he was AWESOME) invited me out for my first Xmas stateside.

Leaving a dark and gloomy Olde London town, I checked in and sat back for 10 hours of the finest air travel money can buy (in my dreams). Finally my lovely little twin prop landed in San Diego, always a fun landing and my most AWESOME brother (right, enough of that but those in CA will know what I mean!) met me at the gate and we drove north to Carlsbad for the first of my many trips on Interstate 5 for a Christmas party, whey hey!

The party was courtesy of Carolyn and ‘The Tropical connection’ purveyors of the finest palms in the whole wide world. Every time you buy a palm from them, a sick puppy gets better (all other product placement offers will receive full consideration).

Having equipped myself recently with a new hand held games console with lots of cards games on, I was
Beautiful beachesBeautiful beachesBeautiful beaches

No wonder everyone is so laid back in California, Encinitas beach is just one of the many. Lucky blighters!
convinced I was an exceedingly good card player after practicing for 5 hours on the plane over. Texas Hold’em was my speciality, all good I thought for the prospect of earning my fortune on the tables at Vegas. No more work for me, I’ll beat the casinos and retire.
However, two hours in to the party and an hour on a Texas hold’em table and my $100 dollars of chips had dwindled to nothing. Then the $100 dollars of chips my brother had given me had also dwindled to nothing accompanied with cries of ‘you’re letting down the family name’ from said brother. However, in my defence I had just travelled all the way from London and been forced to drink an incredibly large tequila on arrival at the party. I was a little off my game.

The next day and the Californian sun was shining and so we went off for lunch and a walk on the beach, it’s a tough life. It doesn’t take too long to get in to the swing of the laid back Californian life and of course, afterwards we went to the mall. Luckily I didn’t have much Christmas shopping to do and
Des resDes resDes res

Some of the beach front properties have seen better days. Note to self, don't live on a cliff of mud
since they had blocked my card and I had no money anyway. You would think I never travel or something…

Sunday didn’t get of to such a good start, just as we were leaving SD we noticed a strange noise emitting from the Awesome car, yikes! So we dropped the car off at a local garage and went for a walk to the park. An hour later and cause of all problems was found as a rogue pebble in the wheel. They thought it must have been all the rain they had recently!?!! Emergency over and off to yet another party in Encinitas and a walk on the beach.

Next day, and it rained, poured! This was supposed to be Sunny CA, ah well. North on my old friend Interstate number 5 and off to Knotts Berry farm for some big roller coasters. The fair weather locals seemed to be staying at home due to the slight inclement precipitation, but it was good news for us as there were no queues! So first up was a ride on an old rickety wooden job then as we walked around the park I came across the scariest looking ride of
Scared? Me?Never!Scared? Me?Never!Scared? Me?Never!

I went on this ride (pink hoop), I'm not chicken!
my life, the Xcelerator. Nerves almost failed me but after many taunts of ‘chicken’ from ‘Himay’ and I mustered up some true British Grit and joined the queue. And of course, it wasn’t that bad, I still don’t believe brother dear has really been on it before as he claims. After that everything was a breeze.

The next day was a bit more sedate, and a trip around the Zoo. Luckily I missed the spider house. There was a big queue for visiting the pandas as well, but as I’ve previously established on my trips to China, all pandas are just men in suits, so I wasn’t to be fooled.

Next day and it was Christmas Eve, time for Vegas baby! Only five hours in the Awesome car across the desert and in to Nevada, another state, woo-hoo! My first time to Vegas, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was sure it would be something different. As we drove over the hill, still miles away I could see it was going to be big. As we got nearly, it was clear it was going to be very big. We had booked some bargain rooms in

Oh no, that was my last holiday, just burgers here
the Excalibur at one end of the strip and drove in to the parking lot, hmm, did King Arthur have parking lots? We walked through the gaming floor to check in and I got my first glimpse of how Vegas works, it’s just money, money, money! After my initial gambling disaster on the first night, it wasn’t time to hit the tables straight away but to take a long march down the strip and look at the sights.

Our hotel was nestled between the Luxor and New York, New York down one end of the strip so we headed on a tour of the big and beautiful. It soon dawned on me these hotels are huge, and I mean huge. I’d never seen anything like it. Really impressive too, I was cursing myself for all that money I’d wasted on trips to New York, Paris, Rome and Venice. At least now I don’t need to bother to go to Egypt. And as for the toilets, after China I was in holiday toilet heaven! The tour continued through Italy (Bellagio), past some strange volcano thing which erupted every so often then dinner in the Flamingo. Possibly a little on the lower end of the market but I thought it had a lot of charm, a bit more Clacton than Chelsea.
After dinner it was time to gamble, twenty minutes later it was time to stop. Our weak attempts revolved mainly around video poker at the bar. Which is great as they bring you free drinks while you gamble, sounds great until you realise one drink costs you $20 in lost money. I’ve been assured you can win at this poker, but we certainly weren’t. At least my cautious nature means I didn’t loose too much, only my pride.

Next morning and it was Christmas day! So what do people do in Vegas on Christmas day? If you are Chinese you gamble, but the rest of us take a short drive south to see the Hoover dam. Blocking the Colorado river and forming Lake Mead, it’s pretty impressive for it’s time. However, the new bridge they are building by it is REALLY impressive. Really high across the Black canyon, brother dearest was not enjoying his vertigo at this point.
We stopped on the way back a casino near the dam for a $10 buffet lunch, they even had turkey. These
Mojave in a moodMojave in a moodMojave in a mood

Yep, I went to the desert and it rained.
buffets are very popular in LV, people queue out the doors for them. But I guess if you have lost all your money then they are good value.
Back to Vegas in the afternoon and a walk down the whole strip, to the older part of town as we wanted to visit the bar in Circus Circus, a merry-go-round bar, cool. The weather was getting colder and windy when we got there but still dry. But hey, James Bond went to CC when he went to Vegas, so if it’s good enough for JB, it’s good enough for me.
We arrived after a long walk, and I have to say, once you have been to the other casinos, it was looking a little tatty, but still had some charm. But of course, the bl%*dy bar was closed! When we left, the heavens had then opened too and for once we were not anywhere near a big casino to take shelter. We finally hit the Wynn on our way home, looking like two drowned rats in one of the poshest casinos in the city, typical. We elected to take the monorail back to our hotel and stayed within the confines of
Don't take your temperature with thisDon't take your temperature with thisDon't take your temperature with this

The world's tallest thermometer. Let's hope it's not used on humans...
it and the adjoining casinos for the night. Finally, our luck was in as we discovered a Filipino impression/cover band playing in our hotel bar much to my amusement. I think I had more enjoyment with their Elton John impressions than I would have if I’d gone to see him for real at the Bellagio. Boxing Day and it was time to drive back to SD, pretty much the same journey but now I was leaving Vegas, the sun decided to shine.

My final day had arrived far too soon, but time for a bit more shopping, lunch and one final party in Encinitas. I visited some lovely homes and met some lovely people over the week and can fully understand why anyone living in CA wouldn’t be that bothered in leaving, it’s a lovely life. Mind you, the next morning I had a bit of a hangover for my flight home, four hours at LAX with a sore head is not the best way to exit but I managed.

It was fun to see a Californian Christmas, I still can’t quite get over the habit of flocking the Christmas trees (don’t mock the flock) but on the
Coronado beach hotelCoronado beach hotelCoronado beach hotel

Oh no it isn't, just another Nevadan fake!
whole it’s nice to have some fun in the sun. Thanks everyone!

Additional photos below
Photos: 30, Displayed: 28


Old Blue eyesOld Blue eyes
Old Blue eyes

If someone names a road after you, do you get exclusive rights on it? I'd hope so.
Just like the Welsh castlesJust like the Welsh castles
Just like the Welsh castles

Our hotel, the Excaliber, I actually think it looked quite pretty on the outside
Bellagio baublesBellagio baubles
Bellagio baubles

Nice decorations, but slightly creepy snow men
Bad Santa!Bad Santa!
Bad Santa!

Didn't get what you wanted this Christmas? No wonder, this is what Santa was up to on Christmas eve!
I'm having de-ja vuI'm having de-ja vu
I'm having de-ja vu

I'm sure I've been to this city before
Venetian, yeah whatever...Venetian, yeah whatever...
Venetian, yeah whatever...

Just not authentic enough! They have forgotten to pipe in the smell of drains which delight you as you take a gondola ride in the real Venice. Details, it's all in the details!
Dyson damDyson dam
Dyson dam

Oh, sorry Hoover! (That was a terrible joke, I do apologise)
Big engineeringBig engineering
Big engineering

New Colorado river bridge being built, this is one impressive piece of building. Not for those with a fear of heights
In state number 8In state number 8
In state number 8

Right, after a 10 min walk in Arizona, that takes my states to 8. Only 42 more to go!
Damn, that's highDamn, that's high
Damn, that's high

Only 729ft (221m) down, come on, jump!
Lake MeadLake Mead
Lake Mead

Anyone else there on Christmas day?
New York, New YorkNew York, New York
New York, New York

So good they built it twice

13th January 2009

Glad to see you are getting over to my part of the world
Hey, enjoyed your blog - I was in Florida for Christmas - so at least we were in the same country! Glad to see you are enjoying the best that North America has to offer. Are you on facebook yet? in my sad existence it is the only way i communicate these days.
14th January 2009

I'll be back over again pretty soon
No Facebook for me am afraid. I seem to be spending far too much time on your side of the Atlantic, about to come over again. Whistler from 23rd Jan, and then probably back again in March for another week. Canadian skiing is the best!

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