Monday, May 09, 2016

Travel Diary | San Diego in 4 Days (feat. Wizarding World of Harry Potter!)

Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

Hi everyone! Long time no blogging. Lately, I post on instagram more than I do on my blog. I honestly find it really hard to form idea long enough for a blog post. If you don't know, I have another account on instagram under @byAmadea where I post mostly 99.9% beauty related products. I share makeup of the day, beauty products I've tried and my takes on them, and many more. All the pictures are taken by yours truly. I feel like it's a quicker way to share with you guys what I'm currently enjoying -- or not enjoying.

Moving on to my most recent trip. Every year after April 15 (or April 18 this year, when tax season is over), I take a little getaway trip just to refresh myself. This year, we went to San Diego and Universal Studios in Hollywood. We took a morning flight and arrived in SD at around 10 am. The check-in time was 4 pm, so we had plenty of time to kill. Instead of renting a hotel room, we opted for small studio with kitchen and its own backyard! The place is small but just enough for two. I forgot to take the picture, so I can't show you guys.

Places we visited

Since we had hours to kill before we could check in, we made Balboa Park as our first stop. It's a signature San Diego spot with plenty of museums, a vast range of parks and great amounts of sight seeings. You haven't been to San Diego if you haven't visited Balboa Park.  We didn't really do anything there besides walking around and taking pictures. Parking was pretty difficult when we were there. It was on Tuesday afternoon. The heat also made me more exhausted than I actually was. Being in South California, San Diego is always about 5 degrees warmer than the bay area.

Botanical Park - free admission
The next day we had a long drive to Hollywood to go to Universal Studios. It's not really ideal to stay in SD when you want to visit theme parks in LA area. The traffic was pretty horrible. We left at 7.45 am and arrived at around 11. I took 3 hours! I was really excited to visit the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter that just opened on April 7. I have been wanting to go to the one in Orlando, but haven't had the chance to do so. The park opens from 9 am to 6 pm. At first, I was worried that we wouldn't have enough time to try everything there, but by around 5.30 we were already satisfied. Ocep doesn't like rides, so I went alone on some of roller coaster rides like Flight of Hippogriff . I had to say Flight of Hippogriff is such a downer for a roller-coaster fan like I am. The ride lasted literally under 1 minute - at least that's how I felt. I guess since this is Universal's first outdoor roller coaster, they want it to be more family friendly. We also tried the famous Butter Beer! The line was always long from morning to afternoon. 

The very first ride we hopped on was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I had no idea what to expect. We needed to check in all our belongings inside a locker. The locker was pretty high tech. It used your finger print to open and re-open the locker. We had a sling back and cameras, and the locker was pretty spacey to fit everything. It's free for the first hour I believe, and will charge $5 or something like that if you exceed the time allowed. To ride the attraction, we had to wait in line for about 40 mins maybe. I was so excited looking at the details inside the giant "castle" that I wasn't paying attention of how long we waited, which is good. The place was humongous! I was in awe. I really felt I was inside Hogwarts for all I know. At the end of the line, you'd see the floating candles just like in the movies.

The flyer the park handed to us suggests to visit the Harry Potter World in the afternoon, which proves to be effective in our visit. The line to the roller coaster was only 10 minutes at 4 pm as opposed to 30 minutes at 12 pm when we first arrived. There are a lot of details that made me in awe and didn't want to leave. I don't consider myself a Harry Potter fanatic, but I love the movies (I loved the books too, but I stopped reading them after Book 5). I was giddy and excited, just a like a kid.

Traffic on the way back was better, but still bad. We had dinner until 8 pm and drove back to SD for about 2 hours. I was really beat. I took a shower and I pretty much ended my day on falling asleep on the bed afterwards. 

The next day, our second to last day, we went to San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It is the sister park of San Diego Zoo, but it has more land for research purposes. The safari was pretty empty considering. It was really big that I needed to take a break here and there just from walking. We didn't visit San Diego Zoo since we've already been there before and wanted to visit something different. The highlight of the visit was the Africa Tram. It is free, included with the regular admission. The line was pretty long, though. We had to wait for 30 minutes. It's just always nice to sight-see riding a bus.

On our very last day, we went to theNAT, San Diego Natural History Museum. They have different exhibitions from time to time, and it was whale exhibition when we came. I learned a great deal about whale, and I wished we had time to visit San Diego Seaworld. The museum was not too big. We finished everything in about 3 hours, including watching 2 movies presentation - about 25 minutes each. We then headed to the famous "Kissing Statue" or what officially called Unconditional Surrender. I wanted to take a picture mimicking the statue, but we were too shy to ask someone to help take the picture. 


Everytime we go to San Diego, we always take advantage of eating good fish tacos. It's not that there's no good fish tacos where I live, but when in Rome....

La Vencidad
We wanted to eat at Lucha Libre on our first day in SD, but the place was packed and we couldn't find parking. My friend suggested the place and it has great reviews on Yelp. Unfortunately we didn't have time to come back =(. Instead, we opted to La Vencidad in Hillcrest area. The place was not crowded, probably because it was already after lunch rush hours when we got there. The service was excellent. We ordered pescado, carne asada and tostada de ceviche, which is a cold ceviche seved on crispy tortilla. It tasted refreshing and good. 

We also always visited Phil's BBQ, even though Ocep said it was overrated. His mind was changed after the first bite. It is really good bbq, especially if you don't have to wait in line for hours like people usually do on the weekends. The portion is so big. We ended up taking my order to go and eat it for another day. 

Another great tacos at Oscar's Mexican Food. They gave us free samples of fish stew which got Ocep hooked and bought one. 

Let me know what are your favorite places to visit in San Diego area!

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