The motel had discount tickets to San Diego Zoo as well as Sea World and we dedicated the first day to the zoo. The zoo lies almost in the middle of town and when I saw the map for it I got a traveling salesman headache. The place is virtually impossible to traverse without backtracking!
We started out with one of the many aviaries where they kept hummingbirds. They were really cool to see up close but were problematic to photograph. We moved on to the reptile section where we happened upon two Galapagos turtles getting it on. Those things are really huge! They had turtles in almost every shape and form, but also a couple of crocodiles. Also snakes by the bucketload, including one with two heads! One really cool thing was the green mamba that decided to move about just as we were watching it. It was almost as it was watching me when it bobbed its head about mere centimeters from mine, kind of creepy really (and the green color is almost unreal).
We hung around the reptiles for a while waiting for the eleven o’clock sea lion show. The show was so-so but turned unexpectedly interesting when they brought a volunteer kid on stage to feed the sea lion and such. The kid seemed a bit hesitant at first but managed to give the sea lion a back rub. But when it came to feeding the lion the cup overflowed over and he starting bawling his eyes out. The father had to come down and collect him and that was more or less the end of the show.
Next stop were the Pygmy Hippopotami (okay, okay, I’ll admit that I was mostly looking for an opportunity to use an i-plural form). They looked like you’d expect, roughly the size of Saint Bernards, swimming about in a pool. We walked about some more, seeing lots of birds and monkeys before stopping for a bite to eat.
We ate some sort of Mexican that came with the unappetizing pile of mashed beans that apparently accompanies all Mexican dishes. It’s not bad though, it just doesn’t look that nice. After lunch we looked at the Giant Pandas, they were super cute of course, munching away on bamboo. We saw a couple of Panthers, Pumas, Meercats, Elephants, Tapirs and a Rhino before going to a second show. This time they had a Pig, a Wallaby, a Shaded Leopard, a Cheetah and its friend the Golden Retriever Sven Olof. They all did some tricks and the trainers confirmed and denied various myths about the animals. Nothing spectacular though.
Afterward we headed off to the Polar Bears but there was only one of them out. He was very considerate though and was playing right next to the glass with a plastic barrel so we got a few nice pictures. Apparently there’s really not a problem for them that it is so hot in San Diego since they just shed their winter fur and lose the fat then and after doing that they’re quite comfortable.
At this point we were almost done and went back towards the gate. We went past the real Hippopotami and the Tigers on the way back. We had one more destination in mind before leaving though; the Koalas. The Koalas were mostly sleepy but just as cute as they always are.
Done with the zoo we drove around downtown for a bit and then headed out to a rather large island called Coronado just outside the downtown area. Out on Coronado is the famous Hotel Del Coronado (featured in Baywatch among other things) and a very nice beach. At the hotel there was a parking attendant that spent his days making sand drawings on the driveway, really pretty! We walked the beach for a bit and found that the water was quite nice. So we decided to go back for a swim the next day.
We then spent the evening walking around downtown to get a feel for San Diego. It seemed quite nice, in spite of the fairly numerous homeless people.