Travel on a Budget

... a recent trip to San Diego

by Elizabeth Samit

I visited San Diego from October 20 - November 2, 2010 (and voted "absentee" at Melrose City Hall for my very first time). The dates were determined by an airfare sale that enabled me to plan a West Coast vacation for less than $700 in total.

The San Diego International Airport is so close to the downtown area that you can easily take MTS Bus #992 from domestic terminals to the heart of San Diego via the Cruise Ship Terminal in 15 minutes.

I stayed at the "500 West Hotel" (a hostel attached to the YMCA) for $36/night (purchased through "Priceline")--not recommended unless you are solo and an adventurous traveler who doesn't mind a hallway bathroom. However, the location is excellent as it is centrally located near the train station ("Santa Fe Train Depot"), major trolley stop, and busses.

It had been eight years since my last (and first) visit to this city, and also the last time I'd seen my two close friends who moved there. Some of the tourist activities in which I engaged were visiting Balboa Park with its diverse museums and gardens, the San Diego Zoo (rightfully world-famous and huge), a ferry ride to Coronado Island, Seaport Village (like our Quincy Market), Scripps Aquarium, and watching a crowd of sea lions play in the ocean off La Jolla Cove along with kayakers and swimmers. I also visited "Old Town" on the Mexican holiday of "Day of the Dead" (November 1). Its buildings make the Paul Revere House look newly constructed. Over the weekend, I stayed with my friends at their house in the "Golden Hill" Neighborhood, and enjoyed their backyard filled with succulents, cactuses, and colorful birds. Of course, I also ate out in the Gaslight District, and many other spots.

I didn't need a car rental to see a wide variety of sites. If you go, I recommend stopping at the MTS "Transit Store" downtown, and buying a day-pass for unlimited trolley and bus-riding (or for up to four days use). It's an extremely friendly city, where visitors from all over the U.S. are helped by trolley drivers and others to quickly locate one's destination.

December 3, 2010

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