So you think you know all there is to know about where you live? No offense, but I doubt it. I went to San Diego recently with two colleagues for a walking tour of that city’s historic Gaslamp District. We met our guide, Sean, in front of the office of Another Side of San Diego. We grabbed a bottle of water and set out to learn what we could about the history of this colorful area.
Within a couple of blocks Sean was showing us things the casual observer would miss in a blink. The steel ring in the sidewalk? That’s where they used to tie the horses when they stopped off at the local watering hole. There’s a wealth of history both inside and outside the Hard Rock Cafe. The turn of the century stained glass has been painstakingly incorporated into the decor. Next time you visit, look up and see the stories the stained glass on the ceiling has to tell.
As Sean pointed out one interesting tidbit after another, we arrived at our first pit stop: Operacaffe. A little water, a little wine and some wonderful nibbles. We started with some arancini and finished with a strawberry topped tiramisu. This is a delightful locally owned independent business with excellent service and delicious food.
As we continued walking, the wealth of Victorian architecture contrasted with strikingly modern looks somehow just worked. Decades ago, in an effort to “modernize” the downtown area, several historic buildings were “upgraded” to make them look more contemporary. We visited the Horton Grand Hotel and felt the past come to life in the pictures adorning the walls and the memorabilia, including a life size horse.
Sean really knew the history of the Gaslamp district and brought it to life for us. Especially impressive is the fact he’s only called San Diego home for not much more than a year. We enjoyed a few more bites: tacos, beans and rice at Rockin’ Baja and liqueur infused gelato at Chocolat. Another Side also offers Segway tours and I’m anxious to give them a spin.
Our two hour tour went by in a blink. In fact, when we checked our watches we were running late for our next appointment, a visit with Micheal Christian, one of the four founders of Los Pilares wine. We met at the Linkery, a place I am very anxious to some some time in. Michael had ridden his bike to meet us and was dressed in full bike garb.
He’s a retired attorney who found along with his partners that California wines were too big, too bold and had way too much alcohol. They set out to make wine they way they believed it should be made, with a large tip of the cap to Old World France. These wines see no wood. They are gentle and elegant and extremely limited in production. Their one wine is a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Carignane and if you can find it sells for $24 a bottle.