Day 015 19th Feb.2010 San Diego

Set the alarm for 5am but wok at 4:30. Snuck out to the back deck in my dressing robe only to see the city lights twinkling in the pre-dawn light. Soon the crew will be tossing the heavy blue ropes over to tie us up at San Diego wharf. Many of the guests will be leaving today as the first cruise is completed.
Now 9am: Customs and immigration forms have been completed, inspected and stamped so it’s time to hit the gangway and off.
Dull grey skies, wind blowing straight off the water making the temperature drop to shivering. The wharves are lined with historical ships; a huge tri-masted dark timber hulled pirate ship,a retired submarine, her grey torpedo frame anxiously waiting for her next stealth mission that will never come, right way round to the overpowering USS Midway.  We spent some time visiting this remarkable ship. Imagine a ship whose service stretched from the end of WW11 to the liberation of Kuwait in 1991. It was the longest serving aircraft carrier in USA . Twenty-two aircraft, from WW11’s Avenger to Desert Storm’s F-18 Hornet all lovingly restored by volunteers, are arranged on its flight deck. Just squeezing through the narrow passageways, watching the animations of “war speak”, seeing the mess hall and kitchen, the laundry, the engine room, all requirements to keep the crew and ship running. Engines the size of a family car needing 500 gallons of fuel an hour to keep the ships speed at 30 knots: the required speed to enable the aircraft take off. Far too much to see in time allotted.
Continued walking, past the restored Santa Fe railroad station with the new bright red train till we reached the Gas Lamp area of downtown. On every corner there was at least one sometimes more, person with a handwritten cardboard sign, begging for money or as one said“anything will do”. None of them appeared to be hard up. Most were drinking coffee from some coffee chain store.
Found the historical district and wee blown away by the beautiful intricate architecture of the older buildings. Some had been renovated to accommodate fancy hotels but the original charm was so strong that it showed through. Beautiful five light lamp-posts lined the streets.
As the temperature dropped we headed for the stores, bought a woolly top, some great Japanese noodles,found a Thomas the train water squirters and a yellow school bus for William then headed for the comfort and warmth of the Maasdam.