Apr 23

Last stop, way down to San Diego for *some* sun and surf

So back on the old greyhound again…this time, for an 11 hour journey. We had our fingers crossed for a blue bus, but we were greeted by an old, crappy, white bus. The blue ones have all the mod cons – we just got all the ex-cons and a few on parole visits! Saying that, the ex-cons really aren’t the ones who cause the problems, it’s mainly the Greyhound staff, but enough about that.

Our trip so far has been amazing, we’ve experienced so much in such little time and all without losing our heads and going overboard with money. At the beginning of our trip, we set out a rough budget for each month, which we needed to stick to. We arrived in San Diego knowing we were on the verge of over spending, this isn’t unusual and reminded us of that last week, at the end of the month before payday, where every penny counts, so we crossed our fingers and prayed for sunshine!

Luckily for us, our first two days were spent soaking up the sun. We enjoyed everything nature had to offer for free – the sun, the ocean and the beach! We were staying in a Motel for the first three nights, about an hours walk to the beach. We explored on the first day and sussed out the local area, which involved about seven hours of walking over the bridges of the bay. We saw lizards and seals casually going about their days. The next day, we rode the bus which cost $5 for a day pass. We wondered down the beach promenade, bustling with skate boarders, long boarders, runners, roller bladers and bike riders.

We found a place to wakeboard, it was lush and I was dying to ride, it’s been almost a year since stopping in the UK to save money. This is where travelling becomes more than a holiday, on a holiday you wouldn’t think twice, however, wakeboarding would blow our budget, which was already blown (it’s not cheap in the US) and we are staying at a wakeboard lake in Hawaii, so there will be a chance later down the line. We are quickly learning that we can’t do everything we want. Sad face.

We’d thought Santa Barbara had been full of life and energy, but San Diego took it to another level. The miles and miles of coastline was literred with men in little black suits, all playing in the crashing waves. San Diego was leaving a great impression on us.

After relaxing for a few days in the sun and enjoying breakfasts, lunch and dinner on a shoestring, we checked out of our Motel and headed down to the beach front to stay at our new accommodation, the Banana Bungalow Hostel. Incidentally, we actually payed more to stay there, but we’d made a conscious decision to vary our accommodation, so we could experience more of the Hostel vibe and take advantage of the cheaper meals and tours that they advertised. It’s very much an illusion in the US that hostels are the cheapest accommodation – for a couple at least.

The Hostel didn’t quite live up to what we had hoped for, we were comparing it to it’s sister Hostel ‘Banana Bungalow’ in downtown Hollywood – which was great! The environment was dingy and our room was uncomfortable, not forgetting the very smelly toilet and tepid showers. We could of lived with all of this, had it been cheaper and the staff had been a bit more friendly. It was hard to get a word out of them and it was confusing who was a traveller and who was a member of staff. We never did their surf morning, as they didn’t really know much about the plan and it worked out cheaper to rent at a place next to the hostel. Our situation wasn’t helped by our financial predicament, for example, the hostel did offer $15 all you can eat and drink, each, one night which would have been really fun, but even that was out of our budget – crazily. We had to split a cheaper meal and buy a $5 knock off, bottle of amaretto. This week was a case of having to save money, so we could make the most of our next stop, Hawaii.

The saving grace for this hostel was it’s location. We were literally on the beach! So our second day was spent in the waves, surfing. This was such great fun for two, baby wave surfers. It wasn’t without incident either. Before and whilst in the ocean, numerous helicopters were hovering above us, spooking, what appeared to be a migrating group of Grey Whales. They must literally have been one hundred yards away! At the time, this did concern us a little, as San Diego does see Great Whites and helicopters normally come out to track them.

But hey ho, we continued surfing and made the most of our two hour wetsuit and board hire. Tom’s back held out too! We’re missing our ‘free’ wetsuits that we have back at home, hiring is not cheap! A medium Pizza was shared on the beach that night.

The next day we aimed to get up and do some exercise. Which we actually did! This consisted of beach running and circuits. It was fun and the rest of the day, we just chilled. The weather turned and became cloudy and a little chilly, so we headed off the beach to share a cup of tea at Starbucks and to use their wifi…what ‘pikeys’ we have become!

The remaining days were spent doing laundry (cheapest yet – this made us happy!) and literally walking miles to find the cheapest food and things in the supermarket. We did save up our budget to have a moderately healthy meal of Thai and edamame beans, we were fed up of eating burgers and tacos! We also visited La Jolla beach where the waves looked perfect for us, 2ft, long, calm and tons of people in the water, yet so much space. We had no money left to rent, so just watched for a bit and then got the bus back to Pacific Beach.

We were ready to leave San Diego, with no money left and the lack of sun. It became a countdown to Hawaii. We jumped on the greyhound back to LA, which was quick and painless, as there was another backpacker on there for some chat!

We write this post, as we hibernate in our Motel room (our cheapest accommodation yet!), packing up, ready to fly out tomorrow. California has been awesome and the variations of landscape, cultures and activities we have accomplished, over the distance of eleven hours is pretty crazy. We’re positive we didn’t even scratch the surface…this state is huge! We’ll be writing up a little California post with some tips we learn’t to save some bucks whilst backpacking and the things we feel are must do’s! But let it be known, to travel California requires deep pockets!

Signing off until Hawaii. Tom’s butt says bye!

Fi & Tom xxx

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