Knott’s Berry Farm, Anaheim, California, United States of America, a set on Flickr.
Tales from my Sofa deliberately avoided Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim. He had no intention of being sucked into the alternate universe that Disney pulls you into; instead he went to Knott’s Berry Farm, which claims to be America’s first theme park.
That is not to say that Knott’s Berry Farm is much better.
An Old West theme and lots of fried chicken are the order of the day, as are the obligatory Camp Snoopy carnival rides.
Ghostrider is considered one of the best wooden rollercoasters in California. TFMS looked but did not partake, as he gets scared very easily.
TFMS also had the misfortune to be there in October when the park morphed into “Knott’s Scary Farm.”
Walk-through mazes, “scare zones” and the undead on the look-out for fresh blood did not help TFMS’s nervous disposition. He had to have a lie-down afterwards. Enough said.
Famous the world over for swallows that no longer return, Mission San Juan Capistrano is well worth a visit.
Of all the Missions visited, this was Tales from my Sofa’s favourite.
The whitewashed Serra Chapel is said to be the oldest building in California and on a bright day the arcades, fountains and gardens are a sight to behold.
The guided tour is a must; the guides are enthusiastic and knowledgeable and help explain the real significance of the Mission system.
Laguna Beach, California, United States of America, a set on Flickr.
Laguna Beach has expensive properties, lots of art galleries and hidden courtyards (situated in the downtown “Village”).
Tales from my Sofa camped out drinking cocktails to obtain these photographs. The next day he felt a bit squiffy, had a headache and his wallet was considerably lighter.
Encinitas, California, United States of America, a set on Flickr.
Encinitas is famous for surfing and meditation, which to some people is the same thing.
Tales from my Sofa has to profess his scepticism that meditation works; the Meditation Garden at Paramahansa Yoganada’s Self-Realization Fellowship Retreat and Hermitage may have gone some way to changing his mind.
Whether you believe in meditation or not, ocean vistas, Koi Carp ponds and tranquility make you comatose on the spot. Even the wildlife appears to so relaxed that they do not want to wear themselves out by making any noise.
TFMS also visited Swami’s Cafe and partook in a three egg ommmmmmmm-lette (get it ?!). The Cafe had such a laid-back and relaxed vibe that you half expected Hendrix to be playing in the corner.
Lux Art Institute is also worth a visit if you are interested to see an artist in residence craft pieces from concept to construction. The museum curator was particularly enthusiastic. TFMS nooded a lot to pretend that he knew what she was talking about. He didn’t.
Oceanside, California, United States of America, a set on Flickr.
Oceanside is famous for surfing and its 1900 foot wooden pier.
It also lies just outside the Camp Pendleton Marine Base, which Tales from my Sofa found to his cost when he was stopped by the USMC and told to turn around.
TFMS also stumbled into the California Surf Museum which is well worth a visit; the timeline of surfing history is particularly interesting if your knowledge of surfing is restricted to the films Point Break and Blue Crush.
The range of foods on offer at the market were well received by the crowds; TFMS partook in the Greek and Egyptian stalls.
The music blasting out from the wannabe-Steve Tyler DJ was less well received.
Legoland California, Carlsbad, California, United States of America, a set on Flickr.
Tales from my Sofa loves Lego. And Star Wars.
So anywhere with both is like manna from heaven.
TFMS particularly enjoyed Miniland and the skylines of New York, Washington, San Francisco and Las Vegas entirely made out of Lego blocks.
Legoland California is also one of the few places where you can see a 25 foot reconstruction of New York’s Freedom Tower years before the actual building has been completed.
The Lego reconstruction is impressive, so it goes without saying that Freedom Tower will be as well when it is completed. A fitting tribute.
La Jolla, San Diego, California, United States of America, a set on Flickr.
La Jolla is compact and wealthy and a world apart from San Diego.
A fantastic library (Athenaeum Music and Arts Library) and scenic walking path skirting the shoreline for half a mile are counterpoints to the posh boutiques whose sole function in life are to make their customers feel under-dressed for not wearing a dinner jacket.
There is no denying that Seaworld is overtly commercial and at each corner visitors are persuaded to buy that branded product that is meant to make them feel like they special and are having a great time; but that is not to say that it is not a fantastic attraction and well worth a visit.
The top draws are the live-animal shows featuring Shamu, the “soak zones” where you will get wet (Tales from my Sofa can attest to this) and the awwwwwwinspiring (get it !?) Dolphins and killer whales.
TFMS particularly enjoyed the sleeping Polar Bear. When asleep he looks so cuddly and yet when awake, it would not be trite to say deadly. It reminds us of how quickly animals can change when fighting for their own existence.
Hotel Del Coronado harks back to a bygone era.
Famously built in 1888 to “be the talk of the Western World”, it still basks in the days when it entertained royalty, presidents and celebrities (see Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot as an example).
That is not to say it is not impressive – the white beach, 700 rooms and 26 acres of grounds remind us of an era when everything was so much more civilised.
“Hotel Del” offers a “home away from home” for those that wish to avoid the city of San Diego and its beaches and can afford its extravagant prices.
The prices of properties on Coronado Island are also a sight for sore eyes; Tales from my Sofa saw a number in the millions of dollars price range which it found strange, as you would have thought that being in the flightpath of the nearby naval base (and its fighter jets) would have brought the prices down.
Oh how little TFMS knows.
San Diego Zoo, California, United States of America, a set on Flickr.
As a rule, Tales from my Sofa does not like zoos. In his view, they smell and it is cruel to the animals.
San Diego Zoo is the exception. The animals actually look happy and seem pleased to see the visitors.
The big animals are the main attractions, but the Meerkats give them a run for their money on the popularity stakes.
Everyone loves Meerkats and yet TFMS knows not why. Everyone simply does.
Arrive early and you will see the animals being fed. Arrive any later and they will all be having their afternoon nap. As will you, after you have walked the 100 acres and seen the 3000-odd animals.