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SAN DIEGO I must honestly admit that even though I was really looking forward to visiting San Diego, I never expected this overwhelming rush of feelings, this incredible love at first sight that swept me off my feet. This city has the most amazing atmosphere, a lot more tranquil and serene than the crazy and multi-faceted (not always in the positive meaning of the word) Los Angeles, but still vibrant and exciting. For me it represents the true spirit of California. All right, so perhaps in San Diego each server is not an aspiring actor and you can’t so freely witness what excessive plastic surgery can do to a once human face, but you will not be bored! It’s enough to take a stroll along one of its beautiful beaches and you feel like you have finally come home. As you gaze at the ocean you can truly see how wonderful life can be and how it’s the simple pleasures that are usually the most profound. And if you are lucky and patient enough, then you might spot a sea lion or a couple of dolphins happily frolicking in the waves: we’ve actually seen both! But even though California appears to be best known for its gentle climate and sunny weather, there is a lot more to San Diego than just the beach and casual life-style. In fact, this city offers a great array of attractions that will keep you occupied for days, if not weeks. We stayed there only for 4 days, so we were not able to experience as much as we would have wanted, but hopefully this review will still be helpful in planning your itinerary. The travel guides I used to form an idea about the most popular points of interest were: - San Diego (Moon Handbooks) by Ericka Chickowski : (please click the link to your right for details) - San Diego County Beaches (Moon Spotlight) by Alan Bisbort and Parke Puterbaugh: (please click the link to your right for details) They both served their purpose rather well and I would certainly recommend them: they provide you with a good overall  description of pretty much every aspect of your trip: sightseeing, accommodation, shopping, dining etc., as well as some  very handy maps. I photocopied a few of them and carried them around in my purse instead of the heavy book: an idea my  shoulders were very grateful for!  ACCOMODATION Unfortunately I am not able to give you concrete information concerning the beach cottage we rented, because it is not available to the general public and we were only able to stay there due to a special courtesy. With that being said, however, there are a lot of similar lodgings on the market and if you do your research, you will find something for sure. The beach cottages can be very pricy (300$-$400 and up for a night), but if you are looking for a more inexpensive solution, you can always just book a hotel room. Our cottage was a two-bedroom, full kitchen affair right on the beach on the island of Coronado. If you ever have a chance to spend some time there, please grab it with both hands because it is heaven on Earth! Confidently affluent, this place emanates waves of well- being and prosperity without being ostentatious in any way. The old-fashioned wooden houses look cozy and homey, but in reality they are all worth a fortune! Of course upon careful inspection one will notice signs that the inhabitants of this community most likely do not live on welfare, like the multiple yachts on display (please see the Glorietta Bay Marina), but it’s all kept in excellent taste. It’s like the hang-out of the Rich, who for once have the good grace not to flaunt their fortunes in our faces in the most appalling, vulgar manner. The famous Hotel de Colorado (known as “the Del”) is also located on this enchanting island. During our stay there (mid- September) the ocean appeared very calm and inviting. Don’t be fooled though, the water was still freezing, at least to a wimpy heated-pool enthusiast like me. However, with great astonishment we have witnessed multiple very brave (or slightly insane) people taking all kinds of swims in there. Respect! I wouldn’t have done it even if a bunch of dolphins sent me an official invitation hand-delivered by a Mermaid. But anyway. The beaches themselves are very beautiful, wide and long with clean, fine golden sand. The broad strip of hard sand caused by the tide makes walking along the shore relatively easy. The peaceful and serene atmosphere recharges your inner batteries: is there anything more relaxing than just letting all your hectic thoughts go and staring at the ocean for hours? It’s almost like finally reaching a state of Nirvana, be it only for a little while. And please remember that even though it is warm and sunny during the day, it will get shockingly chilly at night. I went from Capri pants and a short-sleeved top to long trousers, a sweater and a windbreaker. Also important: don’t forget your sunscreen! The sun can get very hot and will give you a nasty burn (my poor neck still hates me for forgetting to spray its backside) very quickly. Due to the presence of the Naval Base on the island you can witness a lot of air- traffic and observe some incredibly cool planes and helicopters coming in and taking off. As I have a bit of an obsession with military flying things, I found this particular attraction thrilling and it kept me well occupied when I wasn’t watching any sea creatures (mostly the mad people going for a swim) at any given moment. Because our cottage contained a fully equipped kitchen, we were able to prepare our own meals. I can only say thank God, this being our 4th trip this year that certainly helped us financially out a lot. If you decide to choose this option, most cottages come with a fridge, microwave, dishes etc. Ours even had a flat-screen TV in every room and a DVD-player. What I am trying to get at is that if you have enough people to share the cost with (most of the lodgings will sleep up to 6 persons), then renting one might actually pay off for you more than getting a hotel room. And apropos food, you must try some of the hot sauces San Diego is so famous for. They have all kinds with different flavors and degrees of viciousness (some will have you running around in tears of agony), but they are absolutely delicious and will pep up every dish in no time! For those of you who want to explore the joys of San Diego’s night-life, the city features a whole neighborhood dedicated to that very purpose, namely the Gaslamp Quarter. This historic district offers an abundance of venues to visit and whether you want a restaurant, a bar or a club you will find it there. For us, however, the main attraction most definitely was the ocean since we get to see it so rarely, so we opted to spend our evenings sitting on the beach with a nice bonfire going for warmth, as well as romance. Staring at the flames, listening to the murmur of the waves in the background and sharing a good bottle of wine honestly beat any night- life experience I could have imagined. Unless I spotted Bradley Cooper performing a striptease in one of the bars (and I mean full frontal nudity, none of those weird thong thingies!), that could have been a somewhat tempting alternative. But even then it would be touch and go… Please keep in mind, however, that you can’t just make a fire anywhere you choose to, you need to look for designated fire pits where it’s safe and legal to indulge in some pyromaniac fun. You can buy bundles of wood (about $5 each) at most local stores. SAN DIEGO OLD TOWN STATE HISTORIC PARK ****** This historic part of San Diego will charm you with its quaint little museums and old-fashioned stores and make you feel like you traveled back in time to the 19th century. The small shops are designed to resemble those from that period (both the décor and the store clerks, costumed and courteous like back in the day). Those establishments offer all kinds of products: soap, hot sauces (I got addicted to those there and now can’t stop ordering them from the Internet), jewelry, hand-crafted items and, of course, souvenirs. There’s a little Tea&Coffe Shop, where you can sniff on countless jars of tea mixes or coffee beans and choose the ones you would like to purchase or sample right there. All a lot of fun and extremely relaxing after the hustle and bustle of modern-day shopping. If you get hungry, you can visit one of the plentiful cozy restaurants. Most of them are Mexican (in accordance with the fact that early San Diego was mostly influenced by that culture). And if you need something stronger to sustain your spirit (or maybe get obliterated in the hope that, like in any good time travel-movie, you’ll wake up the next day with a big hang-over and a good 150 years before you technically should), this district also offers several bars all built in the style of early saloons. As far as the museums go, almost all of them are free (open usually from 10AM- 5PM) and will give you a fascinating insight into the way the people back then used to live. You can start your tour with  the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Center and then visit the Wells Fargo History Museum, presenting the origins of the operations of this financial institution. Afterwards you can inform yourself how the children (Mason Street Schoolhouse) and criminals (San Diego Courthouse and Jail) fared in those times. One thing you notice right away: apparently the good old citizens of San Diego did not see a conflict of interests there, as the school was located right next to the prison. Hmm, maybe along the lines of: look kids, this is where you will end up if you don’t do your algebra? Or in some very extreme cases: now you listen Johnny, if you don’t start behaving yourself, I will transfer my custody of you to One Eye Revolver Joe next door? Hey, don’t look at me like that, they applied some very questionable parenting techniques back then, I’m not saying I approve! For me the most interesting attraction in Old Town was the Casa de Estudillo. A spacious hacienda complete with furnishings and every-day objects, it shows how a wealthy 19th century family would go about their daily routine in the area. This place truly draws you in and gives you an instant enlightenment, much better than reading a dozen books about the period. While there you can also stroll around the authentic garden or take a picture with one of the costumed “inhabitants”, who will be happy to share stories about the history of the hacienda and the significance of certain exhibits. Please also don’t miss the Seeley Stables Museum, which displays antique carriages and other items connected to the tough art of relocating yourself back then. And trust me: as much as we complain about the hustle of air-travel nowadays, it still seems like pure heaven in comparison to spending two weeks on the roof of a very uncomfortable coach, sharing the above-mentioned roof with a dozen other none too happy delinquents. Rain or shine! If you enjoy supernatural phenomena and cemeteries, then you should definitely visit the Whaley House (also known as the most haunted house in America). This way if you time-travel plan does not work out, at least maybe you’ll meet a ghost. Allegedly there are a couple of those roaming the corridors; the house even offers late-night tours for those seeking extra thrills. The Campo Santo Cemetery is a tiny old-fashioned burial place, with wooden crosses and scary looking dolls all neatly placed on the graves and concludes the educational tour of life and death in 19th  century San Diego. The Old Town area itself delights with its abundance of colorful plants and majestic trees. It also provides a lot of places to sit down and relax. I personally was absolutely enchanted by this whole set-up and enjoyed every second spent there: it’s beautiful and tranquil, like going back to a bygone era. SAN DIEGO ZOO ***** I am not really a big fan of Zoos, but since the one in San Diego is supposed to be so famous I decided to give it a try. Gawking at poor animals kept in cages has never been on the top of my most morally endorsable activities, but I must admit that as far as Zoos go this one probably allows them to exist in a lot more humane conditions than most. The grounds are huge (we spent over 5 hrs there and still did not manage to see everything) and very nicely kept. Most of the landscape resembles tropical jungle, with a wide variety of trees and scrubs everywhere. This presents the additional advantage of supplying plenty of shade, very welcome when you are on the go in the hot sun all day. The property contains numerous souvenir shops (literally everywhere you turn) and lots of places to eat. We had lunch at the Front Street Café (*****), a Mexican fast food establishment offering tacos, burritos, salads, sandwiches, fish&chips  etc. and the food tasted really good (especially the Fiesta Salad was delicious), came fresh and nicely presented. I would definitely recommend this restaurant. If you don’t feel like walking around for so many hours, you can take a guided bus-tour or the Skyfari Aerial Tram. The bus will take you around the Zoo, while the tram will whisk you from one side to the other in style, soaring high up in the air. Both of those rides are included in your ticket. And even though they both have their advantages, in the end you will still be able to experience and see the most using your own means of transportation, namely your good old feet. The Zoo is divided into thematically inspired areas, like the Urban Jungle, the Lost Forest, or the Outback. Upon entering the premises you will receive a small map, which makes finding your way around super easy and helps in establishing your priorities in a very graphic way: all the animals are depicted as pictures. Besides the usual suspects in the form of elephants, lions, zebras or giraffes, here you can also encounter some very rare species like pandas. The Panda Canyon is probably the Zoo’s biggest draw and allows you to admire those endangered cuties up close and personal. The waiting times to get in can be very long though: it took about 30 minutes before we were able to feast our eyes on all that fluffy gorgeousness. The bears were extremely entertaining to watch: the Mom was stuffing her face with food while the cub kept chewing on her paw. Unfazed by her offspring’s scandalous behavior, Mama Panda continued to consume her dinner, only sporadically giving out a gentle kick to get rid of the little rascal. The older brother just ignored everybody and took a sweet long nap in a position which could only be described as Hollywood worthy: pure screen-test gold right there! You never know, maybe the little guy has finally had enough of all the dumb tourists’ persistent ogling and is hoping for a career change in case a talent scout should be present in the midst of the gawking crowd? You should also visit the koalas, they are so adorable you just want to snatch one up and run away with it, so that you can snuggle it forever.  You can’t miss the tigers, either, although I personally would probably skip the snuggling part. All in all the San Diego Zoo definitely is a fun place to spend your day, although the animals there seem to have some very ruthless Labor Unions representing them. They must have just been in the middle of some especially tough negotiations, because it seemed like a lot of them were out on strike. Honestly, like half of the furry creatures were nowhere to be seen, blatantly refusing to come out and work!  THE GANG POSING ESPECIALLY FOR YOU: PICK YOUR FAVORITE GLAMOUR SHOT! SAN DIEGO SEAWORLD *** Another very famous San Diego attraction is, of course, the SeaWorld. I must admit that for me it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. For what you pay (admission is around $80 per person) I just expected more. The problem also lies in  the fact that they are so commercially oriented they never skip an opportunity to charge you extra for every little thing, even parking ($20!). Everywhere you turned you ran into somebody trying to sell you something, the show venues were full of different vendors yelling at the top of their lungs; attempting to advertise their ware over the sound of several others also praising the amazing qualities of their own oh-so-useful products (I mean who does not need a soap bubble dispenser, right?). Truly deafening and very unpleasant! The water creature habitats featured throughout the park also somehow failed to truly impress me. I suppose they were just a lot smaller and less spectacular than I imagined. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some pretty interesting things to see like the whales, the polar bears, the huge walrus, the dolphins or my favorite, namely the otters. I absolutely love those smart animals and can watch them for hours. Their antics keep me constantly entertained, they are just so playful and hilarious it’s as if they were putting on their own comedy show! Like when one of them, a rather confident little fellow, climbed into the tub filled with ice and commenced to happily snack on it, occasionally smacking any other otter trying to get his share. Certainly more amusing than the majority of the so called sit-coms that we are tortured with daily. Apropos shows, SeaWorld does present you with several options, but please choose wisely because it will be difficult to see them all and still take the whole tour of the park. To secure a half-decent seat (and unless you want to be soaking wet I would really advise against the splash zone), you have to be there at least 30 minutes prior, so the waiting time really adds up. The ones I would recommend are: - Blue Horizons: dolphins, pilot whales, birds. Besides the so well-loved sea creature acrobatics, this show contains Cirque du Soleil elements (or more precisely the poor man’s version thereof). The production as a whole was all right, I really enjoyed the dolphins and the whales, but the human trapeze performers seemed slightly out of place and I could definitely do without. - One Ocean: killer whale show. The breath-taking pirouettes presented by the massive orcas (also known as Shamu in honor of the first star to perform in this kind of event) truly amaze with their grace and precision. Even though this production does not offer as much animal-trainer interaction as the dolphin show (the caretakers are not allowed into the water with the whales out of safety reason), I would still consider it quite unbeatable as far as the “wow” factor is concerned. - SeaLions LIVE: this trio of seasoned comedians (sea lions Clyde and Seamore as well as OP Otter) will have you in tears of merriment. This production is themed around different TV shows (series, casting, reality) and the animals are doing an incredible job conveying just the perfect spirit of each one. Big praise needs to also be extended to the human performers: especially Biff the tech guy caused me to break out in several bouts of uncontrollable giggles to the point where I was receiving rather intrigued and slightly concerned looks from my not so easily-entertained companion. There are, of course, other shows, but they seem to be more children oriented. The park also contains several different Adventure Rides, but we did not try any of them for lack of time. Even though we spent well over 5 hrs there! So like I said, choose wisely what you would like to do, because you might not be able to sample all of the attractions in one day. For lunch we went to the Calypso Bay Smokehouse (*). And as nice as the name sounds, I would say: run for your lives! They served me probably the most disgusting Chicken Caesar Salad I ever had the misfortune of tasting. It consisted of two peculiar looking wedges of whole lettuce and half a greasy, nasty chicken. Yes, you did not misunderstand me: they just slapped half a chicken (cooked in lard perhaps?) onto my plate. Needless to say that I barely touched it and ended up leaving the restaurant hungry. So unless you like horrible, unhealthy food steer clear of this particular establishment! The last observation I wanted to add to this review is the fact that finding your way around SeaWorld can at times be a little confusing. I don’t think they did such a good job with the signs. You should not have to wander around trying to locate the restroom for 10 minutes. Especially if you had actually finished that Caesar Salad at Calypso Bay. In which case I would venture to guess immediate access to the facilities might have been of paramount importance.
    RATING ****** EXCELLENT *****  VERY GOOD ****    GOOD ***      AVERAGE **        PRETTY BAD *         HORRIBLE

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SAN DIEGO I must honestly admit that even though I was really looking forward to visiting San Diego, I never expected this overwhelming rush of feelings, this incredible love at first sight that swept me off my feet. This city has the most amazing atmosphere, a lot more tranquil and serene than the crazy and multi-faceted (not always in the positive meaning of the word) Los Angeles, but still vibrant and exciting. For me it represents the true spirit of California. All right, so perhaps in San Diego each server is not an aspiring actor and you can’t so freely witness what excessive plastic surgery can do to a once human face, but you will not be bored! It’s enough to take a stroll along one of its beautiful beaches and you feel like you have finally come home. As you gaze at the ocean you can truly see how wonderful life can be and how it’s the simple pleasures that are usually the most profound. And if you are lucky and patient enough, then you might spot a sea lion or a couple of dolphins happily frolicking in the waves: we’ve actually seen both! But even though California appears to be best known for its gentle climate and sunny weather, there is a lot more to San Diego than just the beach and casual life-style. In fact, this city offers a great array of attractions that will keep you occupied for days, if not weeks. We stayed there only for 4 days, so we were not able to experience as much as we would have wanted, but hopefully this review will still be helpful in planning your itinerary. SAN DIEGO OLD TOWN STATE HISTORIC PARK ****** This historic part of San Diego will charm you with its quaint little museums and old- fashioned stores and make you feel like you traveled back in time to the 19th century. The small shops are designed to resemble those from that period (both the décor and the store clerks, costumed and courteous like back in the day). Those establishments offer all kinds of products: soap, hot sauces (I got addicted to those there and now can’t stop ordering them from the Internet), jewelry, hand-crafted items and, of course, souvenirs. There’s a little Tea&Coffe Shop, where you can sniff on countless jars of tea mixes or coffee beans and choose the ones you would like to purchase or sample right there. All a lot of fun and extremely relaxing after the hustle and bustle of modern-day shopping. If you get hungry, you can visit one of the plentiful cozy restaurants. Most of them are Mexican (in accordance with the fact that early San Diego was mostly influenced by that culture). And if you need something stronger to sustain your spirit (or maybe get obliterated in the hope that, like in any good time travel-movie, you’ll wake up the next day with a big hang-over and a good 150 years before you technically should), this district also offers several bars all built in the style of early saloons. As far as the museums go, almost all of them are free (open usually from 10AM-5PM) and will give you a fascinating insight into the way the people back then used to live. You can start your tour with the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Center and then visit the Wells Fargo History Museum, presenting the origins of the operations of this financial institution. Afterwards you can inform yourself how the children  (Mason Street Schoolhouse) and criminals (San Diego Courthouse and Jail) fared in those times. One thing you notice right away: apparently the good old citizens of San Diego did not see a conflict of interests there, as the school was located right next to the prison. Hmm, maybe along the lines of: look kids, this is where you will end up if you don’t do your algebra? Or in some very extreme cases: now you listen Johnny, if you don’t start behaving yourself, I will transfer my custody of you to One Eye Revolver Joe next door? Hey, don’t look at me like that, they applied some very questionable parenting techniques back then, I’m not saying I approve! For me the most interesting attraction in Old Town was the Casa de Estudillo. A spacious hacienda complete with furnishings and every-day objects, it shows how a wealthy 19th century family would go about their daily routine in the area. This place truly draws you in and gives you an instant enlightenment, much better than reading a dozen books about the period. While there you can also stroll around the authentic garden or take a picture with one of the costumed “inhabitants”, who will be happy to share stories about the history of the hacienda and the significance of certain exhibits. Please also don’t miss the Seeley Stables Museum, which displays antique carriages and other items connected to the tough art of relocating yourself back then. And trust me: as much as we complain about the hustle of air-travel nowadays, it still seems like pure heaven in comparison to spending two weeks on the roof of a very uncomfortable coach, sharing the above- mentioned roof with a dozen other none too happy delinquents. Rain or shine! If you enjoy supernatural phenomena and cemeteries, then you should definitely visit the Whaley House  (also known as the most haunted house in America). This way if you time-travel plan does not work out, at least maybe you’ll meet a ghost. Allegedly there are a couple of those roaming the corridors; the house even offers late-night tours for those seeking extra thrills. The Campo Santo Cemetery is a tiny old- fashioned burial place, with wooden crosses and scary looking dolls all neatly placed on the graves and concludes the educational tour of life and death in 19th  century San Diego. The Old Town area itself delights with its abundance of colorful plants and majestic trees. It also provides a lot of places to sit down and relax. I personally was absolutely enchanted by this whole set-up and enjoyed every second spent there: it’s beautiful and tranquil, like going back to a bygone era. SAN DIEGO ZOO ***** I am not really a big fan of Zoos, but since the one in San Diego is supposed to be so famous I decided to give it a try. Gawking at poor animals kept in cages has never been on the top of my most morally endorsable activities, but I must admit that as far as Zoos go this one probably allows them to exist in a lot more humane conditions than most. The grounds are huge (we spent over 5 hrs there and still did not manage to see everything) and very nicely kept. Most of the landscape resembles tropical jungle, with a wide variety of trees and scrubs everywhere. This presents the additional advantage of supplying plenty of shade, very welcome when you are on the go in the hot sun all day. The property contains numerous souvenir shops (literally everywhere you turn) and lots of places to eat. We had lunch at the Front Street Café (*****), a Mexican fast food establishment offering tacos, burritos, salads, sandwiches, fish&chips  etc. and the food tasted really good (especially the Fiesta Salad was delicious), came fresh and nicely presented. I would definitely recommend this restaurant. If you don’t feel like walking around for so many hours, you can take a guided bus-tour or the Skyfari Aerial Tram. The bus will take you around the Zoo, while the tram will whisk you from one side to the other in style, soaring high up in the air. Both of those rides are included in your ticket. And even though they both have their advantages, in the end you will still be able to experience and see the most using your own means of transportation, namely your good old feet. The Zoo is divided into thematically inspired areas, like the Urban Jungle, the Lost Forest, or the Outback. Upon entering the premises you will receive a small map, which makes finding your way around super easy and helps in establishing your priorities in a very graphic way: all the animals are depicted as pictures. Besides the usual suspects in the form of elephants, lions, zebras or giraffes, here you can also encounter some very rare species like pandas. The Panda Canyon is probably the Zoo’s biggest draw and allows you to admire those endangered cuties up close and personal. The waiting times to get in can be very long though: it took about 30 minutes before we were able to feast our eyes on all that fluffy gorgeousness. The bears were extremely entertaining to watch: the Mom was stuffing her face with food while the cub kept chewing on her paw. Unfazed by her offspring’s scandalous behavior, Mama Panda continued to consume her dinner, only sporadically giving out a gentle kick to get rid of the little rascal. The older brother just ignored everybody and took a sweet long nap in a position which could only be described as Hollywood worthy: pure screen- test gold right there! You never know, maybe the little guy has finally had enough of all the dumb tourists’ persistent ogling and is hoping for a career change in case a talent scout should be present in the midst of the gawking crowd? You should also visit the koalas, they are so adorable you just want to snatch one up and run away with it, so that you can snuggle it forever.  You can’t miss the tigers, either, although I personally would probably skip the snuggling part. All in all the San Diego Zoo definitely is a fun place to spend your day, although the animals there seem to have some very ruthless Labor Unions representing them. They must have just been in the middle of some especially tough negotiations, because it seemed like a lot of them were out on strike. Honestly, like half of the furry creatures were nowhere to be seen, blatantly refusing to come out and work! SAN DIEGO SEAWORLD *** Another very famous San Diego attraction is, of course, the SeaWorld. I must admit that for me it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. For what you pay (admission is around $80 per person) I just expected more. The problem also lies in  the fact that they are so commercially oriented they never skip an opportunity to charge you extra for every little thing, even parking ($20!). Everywhere you turned you ran into somebody trying to sell you something, the show venues were full of different vendors yelling at the top of their lungs; attempting to advertise their ware over the sound of several others also praising the amazing qualities of their own oh-so-useful products (I mean who does not need a soap bubble dispenser, right?). Truly deafening and very unpleasant! The water creature habitats featured throughout the park also somehow failed to truly impress me. I suppose they were just a lot smaller and less spectacular than I imagined. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some pretty interesting things to see like the whales, the polar bears, the huge walrus, the dolphins or my favorite, namely the otters. I absolutely love those smart animals and can watch them for hours. Their antics keep me constantly entertained, they are just so playful and hilarious it’s as if they were putting on their own comedy show! Like when one of them, a rather confident little fellow, climbed into the tub filled with ice and commenced to happily snack on it, occasionally smacking any other otter trying to get his share. Certainly more amusing than the majority of the so called sit-coms that we are tortured with daily. Apropos shows, SeaWorld does present you with several options, but please choose wisely because it will be difficult to see them all and still take the whole tour of the park. To secure a half-decent seat (and unless you want to be soaking wet I would really advise against the splash zone), you have to be there at least 30 minutes prior, so the waiting time really adds up. The ones I would recommend are: - Blue Horizons: dolphins, pilot whales, birds. Besides the so well-loved sea creature acrobatics, this show contains Cirque du Soleil elements (or more precisely the poor man’s version thereof). The production as a whole was all right, I really enjoyed the dolphins and the whales, but the human trapeze performers seemed slightly out of place and I could definitely do without. - One Ocean: killer whale show. The breath- taking pirouettes presented by the massive orcas (also known as Shamu in honor of the first star to perform in this kind of event) truly amaze with their grace and precision. Even though this production does not offer as much animal-trainer interaction as the dolphin show (the caretakers are not allowed into the water with the whales out of safety reason), I would still consider it quite unbeatable as far as the “wow” factor is concerned. - SeaLions LIVE: this trio of seasoned comedians (sea lions Clyde and Seamore as well as OP Otter) will have you in tears of merriment. This production is themed around different TV shows (series, casting, reality) and the animals are doing an incredible job conveying just the perfect spirit of each one. Big praise needs to also be extended to the human performers: especially Biff the tech guy caused me to break out in several bouts of uncontrollable giggles to the point where I was receiving rather intrigued and slightly concerned looks from my not so easily-entertained companion. There are, of course, other shows, but they seem to be more children oriented. The park also contains several different Adventure Rides, but we did not try any of them for lack of time. Even though we spent well over 5 hrs there! So like I said, choose wisely what you would like to do, because you might not be able to sample all of the attractions in one day. For lunch we went to the Calypso Bay Smokehouse (*). And as nice as the name sounds, I would say: run for your lives! They served me probably the most disgusting Chicken Caesar Salad I ever had the misfortune of tasting. It consisted of two peculiar looking wedges of whole lettuce and half a greasy, nasty chicken. Yes, you did not misunderstand me: they just slapped half a chicken (cooked in lard perhaps?) onto my plate. Needless to say that I barely touched it and ended up leaving the restaurant hungry. So unless you like horrible, unhealthy food steer clear of this particular establishment! The last observation I wanted to add to this review is the fact that finding your way around SeaWorld can at times be a little confusing. I don’t think they did such a good job with the signs. You should not have to wander around trying to locate the restroom for 10 minutes. Especially if you had actually finished that Caesar Salad at Calypso Bay. In which case I would venture to guess immediate access to the facilities might have been of paramount importance.
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