Day three in San Diego was designated Zoo Day, where we would spendthe bulk of the day at the San Diego Zoo. We started the morning at the usual “roll out of bed early for a Californian” time, and had first breakfast at the hotel.
The say was set to be one of travel challenges. While the Uber/Lyft situation hadn’t been terrible, the mass transit options were looking more and more appealing. We checked out the bus schedules, and found a route that got us close to our destination. At $2.50 per person, that was a steal! And the busses were clean, empty, and air conditioned – very nice.
Our first stop on the day’s travels was second breakfast at Atypical Waffle. Yes, we’ve begun to think like hobbits, having multiple breakfasts during the day. Atypical Waffle was a little hole-in-the-wall type place, decorated fairly ecclecticaly, with a fake silverstream trailer and a little VW van tent situated in an otherwise open outdoor space. We all got waffles, obviously. Riley and I got chicken and waffles. The batter was really good.
After second breakfast, we walked to the next bus stop, which was quite a ways. Along the way, we saw a cool book store, Verbatim Books. They had books in the back arranged to spell out the store’s name, and some shelves were arranged by spine color. The shelves were all marked with a mix of classic and not-so-classic subjects. A large corner of the store was devoted to a variety of zines, which I found surprising. There was a copy of Skeletor’s Guide to Self Care, which was both amusing and poignant.
While waiting at the next bus stop, we encountered an older gentleman who struck up conversation. He was apparently a former bus driver in San Diego. He met his (ex) wife while backpacking around Australia. We was a geography teacher at one point. He pointed out how you could see “another country” just by looking south to a mountain in Tijuana. I feel like we got his life story, including the various places where he lived. He came with us on the bus, and showed us how to get to the zoo entrance, then disappeared into the San Diego wilds. I wonder what he’s doing today.
The zoo was… a zoo. There were a lot of people. The zoo was large and the enclosures were cool. There were, as one might expect, animals. We started with the reptile house, checked out some humming birds,then wen’t looking for big cats. There were a couple of tigers, and a prowling leopard. Many monkeys and babboons. The Australian section of the zoo was interesting, with koala perches all over the place. The wallaby pen was empty, though, as many of the pens seemed to be. Maybe it was too hot for some of the animals.
It was interesting how they combined some animals together in the same pen. There was a hippo with tons of fish, and sharks in the same tank as penguins. They mysteriously put some lemurs near the leopard cage, and the leopard seemed to be staring at them hungrily while they flaunted their safety against a rock wall.
From the zoo, we took an express bus back to the hotel for a bit of a rest. Berta and I chilled on the roof deck with some blueberry mojitos. We otherwise used this time to get ourselves ready for our fancy dinner evening.
Fancy dinner was a 20 minute walk to a restaurant called Juniper and Ivy. They had a menu with interesting non-traditional foods. All of the small plates were vegetarian, which suited our needs, and were served tapas-style. There were “snacks” on the menu, from which we ordered a ceviche tostada and a dish called “Bone Marrow”, which was a halved bone with marrow under some tuna tartare, served with a thick piece of toast. Riley had some oysters from the snack menu, too.
We went wild with the small plates. There was a tomato dish with pine nuts and peppercorns, which was bright and possibly my favorite of everything we ordered. There was a peach dish with almond clusters and chimichurri sauce. There was a beet dish with nectarines, ricotta cheese, and oats. Abby had a giant ravioli with egg and gouda, surrounded by an interesting thin sauce and cherry tomatoes.
We ordered two desserts. One was a peanutbutter and jelly cake, which Riley basically ate all on his own. It looked really interesting, with layers of peanut and jelly, a kind of fruit gel underneath, some peanutbutter croutons, currants, and a scoop of some kind of gelato he refused to identify. The other dessert was a strange kind of banana split “yodel”. The server poured some hot ganache over the dish, which melted parts of the chocolate and banana “snow” that it was made of. It basically otherwise defied true explanation.
The decor of the place was interesting. The modern interior of the building was attractive, and the outdoor seating area where we ate was pleasant. Jets flew over to land at SAN on pretty regular intervals. I had a avocado and mezcal drink during dinner that was pretty satisfying, and Berta seemed to enjoy her wine.
After dinner, we walked back to the hotel through Little Italy by the light of the full moon, and checked out the lighted tall buildings on the bay.