As my husband and I sat squished in the corner of a tiny tiki bar, sipping on our overly-garnished and generously-poured boozy drinks, a couple sitting next to us shot a knowing glance our way. We could tell that they were thinking the same thing as us: we were too old to be in this bar that was jam-packed with peppy 20-somethings.
“Looks like we were put in the ‘old people’ section” the man said to us with a nervous laugh. It turned out they were also parents, trying to enjoy a quiet night out without kids. Like us, they had enjoyed a nice dinner and were having one last drink before calling it a night. We chatted casually like old friends, bonding over stories of parenthood, politics, and plans for the future, and when we parted, they kindly wished us well and went on their way.
We met several friendly characters like this during our 3-day stay in San Diego, and I realized later that each person who crossed our path represented something equally as endearing and unique about the city in which they lived.
There was the 20-something surfer girl (our kayak tour guide) who epitomized the beach bum lifestyle. As she guided us through the waters of the cove, she spoke passionately of her surroundings, her love of adventure infectious and her glowing olive skin and laid-back attitude mesmerizing. She reminded me of Kate Bosworth in Blue Crush, working just enough to make rent, living for the sun and surf, feeding off the adrenaline rush of adventuring through nature’s playground.
There was the quick-witted VIP hotel concierge/aspiring food blogger, who served us drinks while sharing his passion for food and lust for life. He spoke with sincerity and listened with intent, making us feel interesting and appreciated even though we knew that he spent most of his days doing the same with every guest who walked through his door.
And there was the restaurant server/aspiring sommelier with a sparkle in his eye and an avid passion for the culinary world. I could tell he was an introvert at heart, whose inner extrovert only emerged when he spoke of his love for wine and travel to an attentive audience. While he rushed through the restaurant to ensure guests were happy and meals were delivered in a timely manner, he also stood patiently as guests asked him questions, projecting an air of confidence and calmness as he worked.
San Diego is a city full of as much passion, aspiration, and inspiration as the people who call “America’s Finest City” home. From the “surfer girl” feel of La Jolla Shores, to the colourful history behind the city’s Gaslamp Quarter neighbourhood, to the up-and-coming culinary hot spot that is Little Italy, there is something unique about each person, and each region of San Diego – and I loved them all.