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San Diego – A visit to Coronado and Tijuana

July 1, 2010

The next morning I woke up early and walked over to Seaport Village to take a trolley tour. The Old town trolley tour is a great way to get around San Diego and visit touristy sights without too much hassle. I find that motorcycling and sightseeing in a city environment don’t necessarily go together. How can you rubber neck and take in the sights and keep away from cages at the same time? Not possible. I also wanted to try to become a bit less jaded. I found that I had become an anti-tourist over the years and really needed to change things up a bit to try and really embrace being a TRAVELER, not a tourist. Anyway, the tour visits a bunch of key destinations I liked. Balboa Park, the Hotel del Coronado, San Diego’s Old Town, Little Italy, etc.

I walked around Seaport Village being mildly horrified at this plastic “destination”. On the upside, it’s next to the water and the weather that day was absolutely beautiful. On the downside, I don’t need fish shaped wind chimes, Old Guys Rule T-shirts, a gigantic ice cream cone, or a gazing ball. Yuck. I did notice two interesting shops. The first being Captain Hunt’s Cigar shop and the second store, Hot Licks, sold hot sauce from around the world. I immediately made a mental note to come back this evening, smoke a cigar and stock up on some Dave’s Insanity sauce.

I bought my ticket and got on the trolley. The first stop was Coronado.

Interesting neon in Coronado:

Arriving at the Hotel del Coronado:

For those who are interested, here is the history of the hotel

Enjoying the scenery in my $98 dollar Ducati of Beverly Hills T-Shirt:

Absolutely great pool:

The movieSome Like It Hot” was filmed here

Coronado is an interesting place to spend an afternoon. There is plenty of parking for motorcycles.

Now this is a civilized place! Advertising F1 racing in the local paper and having a GP Happy Hour!

Back on the trolley we headed to Balboa Park. Balboa Park was founded in 1903 as City Park and had i’s name permanently changed in 1910. The park, as it appears today was created for the 1915 – 1916 World’s Fair. If you want to read about the entire history of Balboa Park click
The architecture is absolutely fantastic. If you are a camera/picture junkie you will not be bored. There is easily an entire day of walking and sightseeing there.

The San Diego Museum of Art was a fantastic part of the park

I got back on the trolley, finished the tour and went back to the hotel.

Later that night I got my first haircut in several months. It’s nice to be able to get a haircut at 9:30 at night. Floyd’s is a great barbershop.

I found another cigar shop/lounge in the Gaslamp and had another cigar.

The next morning I decided to head to Tijuana Mexico. I was thinking about riding across the border and heading down to Ensenada. But the continual media coverage of border violence along the US/Mexico border had me thinking this might not be a good idea. The U.S. State Department issued travel warnings and just that morning there were reports of twelve murders across the border. So, to go or not to go? Of course I was going! I did however, modify my travel plans. I decided to go on a Grey Line bus tour. Grey Line made sense to me for a few reasons. Firstly, they would have easy access to Tijuana and easy access coming back into the USA. They have a dedicated bus lane and a dedicated line in customs. I also figured even the most drug crazed bandito would think twice about shooting up a bus full of greenback waving tourists.

Crossing into Mexico:

When the bus rolled into Tijuana, this was my first stop. I did some research on the Internet and La Casa Del Habano was the one reputable Cuban cigar seller in Tijuana. A Monte Christo #2 was $20.00 USD which is about right.

I could not have cared less about the rest of Tijuana and the tons and tons of useless tourist junk they sell. It was completely safe and although I went through the process of removing my wallet, credit cards, watch, etc, prior to crossing the border. Just about everyone else on the bus had cell phones, jewelry, watches, hand bags, fanny packs and everything else you think would make you a pickpockets dream target. No one had any issues with being ripped off.

The real Hotel California:


TONS of Police.

Mayhem at the Mexico/US border crossing.

Buses have their own line. You bypass even returning US citizens. It was seriously quick and easy to come through customs.

“Are you bringing anything back with you from Mexico” Yes, a bottle of Cuban Rum. “No problem, welcome to the USA” Yikes.

This is seriously good rum. I was back in my hotel in around 5:00 p.m after a fun day in Mexico.

Tomorrow – Towards TEXAS!





5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 17, 2010 1:02 pm

    Did you do your TJ visit on a weekend? How bad were the US Citizen lines getting back into the US? I’m debating whether to shell out US$30 for the Gray Line “shopping tour” or to take the trolley and taxi like I usually do when I’m down there.

    I would be visiting TJ just for the La Casa Del Habano. They let you bring rum back? How about cigars?

    • August 20, 2010 6:07 am

      I did my trip to Tijuana on a week day. As I mention in the article I took a Grey Line tour. As far as I’m concerned the Grey Line is the only way to go. They have their own lines through customs going both ways. I took a chance on the rum and just handed it to the U.S. Customs officer to let him make the call on if I could or could not bring it back through. Cigars are another matter completely. Have a great time!

  2. James permalink
    August 28, 2010 7:34 am

    I went to Coronado in 1986. What struck me about the old Hotel was the condition of the sidewalks. They looked perfect, but were poured in the 20’s. I was there visiting a fraternity brother who was a naval officer. He wouldn’t go to Mexico, as they were either strongly discouraged or banned from going there. I guess they were concerned with officers selling secrets to the USSR.

  3. ericburkett permalink
    December 13, 2010 7:50 pm

    I just have to comment: I’m in Tijuana as I write this although I live in San Francisco, California.

    I’m amazed at the fear people express about Tijuana. Yes, there was certainly drug-associated violence here but tourists were never targeted or in any real danger. It was also a few years ago.

    It’s also worth noting that Tijuana is far more than just Avenida Revolucion. Do spend some time there but then get out to the other neighborhoods. This city has some incredible restaurants serving cutting edge cuisine, great art galleries, plenty of fantastic, live music, some top-notch museums and, best of all, it’s safe. The people in Tijuana are gracious and friendly and very warm with visitors who show interest in their city and at least try a few words of Spanish.

    And, yeah, La Casa del Habano is a great place.


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