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Published: February 22nd 2016
When you try to imagine a beach town in California, you picture beautiful clean beaches, surfers, dog walkers, joggers and sun worshippers all collectively enjoying a carefree existence. San Diego seems to be the epitome of that (Ocean beach area anyway). Quiet streets lined with palm trees on either side, low buildings, restaurants galore and a vibe so relaxed time almost seems to stop.
After travelling from city to city for 3 weeks straight we were looking forward to some beach time, even if it would only be brief. We arrived (slightly tired as usual) by greyhound from Las Vegas in Downtown San Diego. Catching the tram/trolley and then a bus, we finally made it to Ocean Beach. As soon as we stepped off the bus we immediately fell in love with the area, it definitely did make a nice change of scenery from the cities.
The hostel we stayed at was about 5mins from the beach and the local eateries. Everything was at our front door, there was even an Oktoberfest celebration just down the road starting that weekend.
After checking in, and freshening up we headed straight to the beach. The weather was stifling hot and
there was not a cloud in the sky. We walked briefly along the beach watching the surfers battle the huge waves and swimmers throw themselves into the smaller ones. Families and beach goers brought gazebo's, chairs, snacks, umbrellas, body boards, the lot. Even though it was busy it didn't feel crowded at all, there was enough room for everyone here.
As we only had 2 days here we decided we would go back into downtown and make use of our 1 day pass on public transport and have the following day as a beach day. One important thing we needed first and foremost was find a barber for Chris - a haircut was way over due. After asking around we found one in an area called El Cajon (Oktoberfest also happens here too).
The tram ride there was a long one, Chris could barely keep his eyes open during the journey. Stepping off the cool tram, the midday sun heat hit us at full force. Even the wind AND shade were still uncomfortably hot. The temp was about 40 degrees celsius, we thought we'd be used to such heat now but evidently we were not.
got his haircut we hopped back on the tram heading back into downtown (Gaslamp district). A combination of minimal sleep during the night, the days heat and the long tram journey; had us both fall asleep on the tram (we weren't the only ones), we woke up a few stops away from downtown
The gaslamp district is the popular downtown area filled with bars and restaurants. In our minds we pictured the lively 6th street of Austin, somewhere where we could have a drink and listen to some music before heading back. 6th street it was not. Quite the opposite in fact. It did have bars and restaurants but they were more high end (i.e more than our budget). The main street was very relaxed and quiet, perhaps too quiet for us. Maybe it was too early. After walking around for a bit feeling indecisive, we agreed to head back to Ocean Beach as Oktoberfest was kicking off and thats where the atmosphere is bound to be. We were not wrong.
Oktoberfest is a festival of sorts celebrating German culture such as beer, sausages,traditional German games & Leiderhosen! Based in a large car park beside the
beach, a stage had been erected for the various bands to entertain the masses, beer and bratwurst stations were set up in the sectioned perimeter and an itinerary board highlighting the main events of the 2 day festival was placed at the entrance.
Before we even bought our tickets we knew it was going to be a popular event. There were crowds of people inside and outside of the sectioned off area. It wasn't exactly cheap for entrance and drinks once inside but it was the experience we were paying for we guess. Chris got himself a bratwurst sandwich with veg on top and P was able to get some potato salad with veg too.
We left Oktoberfest and decided to walk along the pier (2nd longest in California apparently). As we walked along the pier we passed many locals fishing, despite it being evening it was a family orientated affair. Sometimes 3 generations of one family would be there with music & snacks. The children got involved too with fishing and even the gutting or sometimes were just happy to play with the huge seaweed that had found its way onto the tall pier.
a nosey at some peoples catches and mainly seen fish (no idea what type) but also some squid but we're not sure if that was caught there or if it was bait!
Being British, one thing we noticed was that there was no rubber rings along the pier - people were being safe but god forbid, if someone fell into those big waves below there was nothing in sight to throw them to help. We watched from the pier as a couple of groups of people from the Oktoberfest crowd ran into the sea from the beach - it was night time and the waves were pretty fierce. We thought they were crazy. Health and safety is ingrained into the British Psyche.
The following day our plan consisted of beach, food and maybe another visit to Oktoberfest (our $5 tickets were good for both days). P also wanted to do 2 separate yoga classes, one with our hostel and the other on the beach. Unfortunately both were cancelled so she decided to go on a run instead. Borrowing a beach umbrella and hiring a surfboard for Chris we headed down to the beach.
Surfing here was definitely
not for novices, Chris spent the majority of his time feeling like he was in a washing machine as the large waves came one after the other, crashing down. In his defence we didn't see many surfers staying on their boards for long either.
For lunch we went to a place called Mike's taco's where we tasted some of the best food since arriving in the US. Chris got a steak burrito with fries inside instead of rice and P got a huge bowl of prawns, fries, guac & sour cream. We both struggled to finish our filling meals but were already planning our next visit back.
Taking a brisk 30min walk to the aptly named sunset cliffs, we sat and watched a perfect sunset. Perfect is when the sun melts into the sea, a lot of the times despite how beautifully breath taking some sunsets are, they rarely dissolve into the sea as we witnessed here.
That evening our hostel was offering 2 hot dogs and a beer for $3 each - an offer we couldn't turn down. We got speaking to a few people at our hostel and ended up having a few drinks with
them that evening and later treating ourselves to some ice cream from a shop down the road.
San diego beach is definitely one of the most laid back places we've been to so far in the US and we really enjoyed the vibe. Suffice to say it was a much needed break from the city stops. We easily could have stayed there longer, soaking in the beach lifestyle and enjoying the locality of everything in that area. But the road was calling and a next adventure awaits.
Accommodation: Ocean beach hostel
Transport: Greyhound from Vegas 9hrs - $65 for 2
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