A Few Days in San Diego, November 2002

Part 1


My first-ever business trip was in 1987, to work at a big convention in San Diego, California. The company had hired me just a few weeks before, so I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Company veterans had worked that annual event for years, and to me they all seemed frighteningly competent, and they all had their favorite restaurants and special places around the city. I felt worthless.

Fifteen years later, my current employer sent me to set up some computers and displays for a show at the San Diego Convention Center. As Phil Lesh sings, "I'm a little bit older now, and I know my stuff." Beyond the Convention Center, I had some ghosts to banish.

First things first. I found a good cafe and had breakfast.


San Diego is a small town of ocean and freeways that has sprawled like melting ice cream to cover more ground than it really needs.


It's also a very very noisy city.


Part of the noise is from construction and renovation jobs. There are cranes everywhere. Despite this President Bush's recession, San Diego's construction industry is doing well.


Most of the noise comes from tourism. Lots of people love to spend a week in San Diego,
and you often hear the bass note of a cruise ship's horn, announcing its arrival or departure.


The airport is right downtown, and takeoffs and landings are exciting.

Lindburgh Field is set between two ridges, so aircraft skim low over the city and drop precipitously onto the short runways. When they leave town, the jets climb franticly, engines screaming to clear the buildings and palm trees. You get used to it, but it's still loud.


The other inescapable sounds are the whistles and bells of the trains. Amtrak and the San Diego Trolley system make tons of noise, but, hey, they're trains! They're damn cute!

And besides, the rail system is a very practical way to get around the city. I rode the trolley between my hotel and the job site, and between shifts, to fine places to hang out.

My Prime Directive for business travel is, don't insulate yourself in a rental car if you can help it. Get out and feel how the city feels to the people who live there. The San Diego Trolley makes that pretty easy.

Yes, the Fifth Street Station feels a little dangerous at night. That's the city for you. Are you a business traveller, or a real traveller?


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© 2002 NuMoon Creations