March 28, 2012

Seaside fun found in San Diego

Posted in Between Us column, Travel, Women at 4:31 pm by dinaheng

The best thing about traveling with your sister is having a companion who knows your tastes and habits, and doesn’t hold it against you.

My sister Linda and I recently spent a lovely weekend in San Diego, a beautiful city on the California coastline that offers everything from whale watching and tours of historic ships to shopping and dining in ethnic neighborhoods. And that’s just a fraction of the fun we were able to squeeze into our two-and-a-half day trip.

Our first stop on Friday afternoon was at the Maritime Museum of San Diego (www.sdmaritime.org), which boasts an amazing collection of historic ships that visitors can walk through and experience first-hand. Aboard the Star of India, which launched in 1863, we watched a group of school children turn the wheel that hoisted a sail under the watchful eye of a museum instructor in period costume.

“Aye, aye, Captain, sir!” the students called out, enthusiastically, as they took turns at the capstan.

The exhibits, which chronicle the adventures of the immigrant ship and commercial vessel, were fun to walk through. We marveled at the size of the bunks, which must have accommodated very short sailors.

After a peek at HMS Surprise, a replica of a late 18th century Royal Navy frigate used in the production of “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” we went down the hatch of a B-39 Soviet attack submarine built in 1974 that was one of a fleet of Soviet subs that shadowed U.S. Navy ships during the Cold War.

Linda was a good sport about indulging my museum-going interest. I know she’s the type who can run through museums that don’t interest her, so I thought this unique collection of ships would offer an interactive experience she’d enjoy.

There’s no better way to learn about history, after all, than to put yourself in the shoes of the past, and this unique museum was definitely worth the visit to both of us. Admission costs range from $8 for children 6 to 12 to $14 for adults. Children 5 and under are free. The museum also offers an historic Bay cruise for $3, with museum admission, on the Pilot, a restored 1914 boat that ferried harbor pilots to merchant ships entering San Diego Bay.

Not far from the Maritime Museum was another amazing and inspiring museum — the U.S.S. Midway, an aircraft carrier that was converted into a naval aviation museum in 2004 (http://www.midway.org/). We didn’t spend enough time at this stop, but were able to take in the planes on the hanger deck, the officers’ quarters, kitchen, and, of course, the gift shop.

Next on our itinerary was a stop at nearby Seaport Village (http://www.seaportvillage.com/), a sweet shopping and restaurant destination on West Harbor Drive. Visitors will find more than 50 shops and 17 eateries here, perfect for those looking to spend some tourist dollars.

Linda, who LOVES to shop, enjoyed walking through various boutiques to check out their island-themed merchandise. My favorite shops were the Upstart Crow, a bookstore and coffeehouse that had wonderful children’s books and gifts, and Silver Crossing, a jewelry shop that specializes in silver, crosses and inspirational gifts. Since I don’t have pierced ears (and refuse to poke holes in them), I loved that you could buy any pair of earrings here and have them converted on the spot to clip earrings.

“My dad retired from the Navy and learned how to be a silversmith,” says Cindy McAdams, the owner of Silver Crossing. “My mom designed jewelry sometimes, and they taught me most everything I know.”

It’s always nice to see interests pass down to the next generation, and yes, I bought a lovely pair of dangling rose quartz earrings. After McAdams converted them to clip earrings, Linda suggested that I wear them through dinner so that I’d know if they needed further adjusting before we left Seaport Village.

When it came time for dinner, Linda and I sampled the offerings at the Edgewater Grill (http://www.edgewatergrill.com/), one of several eateries at Seaport Village. The restaurant, which features views of San Diego Bay and Coronado Island, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a happy hour at the bar from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday.

The dinner menu includes appetizers that range from $9.95 for three sliders to $14.95 for steamed clams or ceviche. We sampled the fried calamari ($12.50), which were crispy with the right amount of salt, and a cup of New England clam chowder ($5.95) for our starters.

The menu offers everything from an Ahi Salad for $19.95 to gourmet pizzas for $14.95. Linda, who loves Mexican food, decided to try the fresh fish tacos ($16.95), which came with grilled white sea bass and avocado cilatro crema on corn tortillas with ficama slaw. While the fish had a nice flavor, she thought the two tacos were somewhat tasteless.

I chose the seared scallops ($26.95), which came with slow roasted garlic potatoes and mixed vegetables. The scallops had a lovely applewood smoked bacon ibeurre blanc sauce over them, but the mixed vegetables were a mixed bag — the zucchini was nicely done, but the carrots weren’t cooked enough, for my taste.

There were numerous dessert options, and we chose the apple pear strudel with vanilla ice cream ($8), which made a sweet, conventional ending to the meal. For a dinner menu that offers a little something for everyone, The Edgewater Grill hits the spot.

After dinner, my earlobes started complaining that the new earrings needed further adjustment, so we headed back to Silver Crossing before it closed.

“See?” said Linda. “Aren’t you glad you wore them through dinner?”

Yes, it’s true — sisters often know best.

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