God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Taste of San Diego

Doesn't everyone want to taste of beautiful, sunny, magical San Diego? Last weekend 70 adventuresome people did just that. Coming from England, Italy, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii and a bunch of the lower 48, we caroused, explored, ate, celebrated, laughed and even danced together. It was a spectacular weekend of friends uniting and reuniting.

Did I say Dancing?
And why did we all converge on San Diego? Well, because of a web site called Slow Travel and its companion site Slow Talk. These sister sites are two of the nets premier travel offerings where normal, everyday travelers help and aid each other in planning and dreaming. For close to 10 years now I have used this as my primary source in trip planning and in the process have made many good and fast friends.

During our year sojourn in Italy, many of our Slow Travel friends whom we only knew through cyberspace visited us--sort of like a stop on the pilgrims' way. We have also had these "get-togethers" in other parts of Europe and the United States. Without exception Slow Travel people prove to be good, fun, nice, delightful, special people. We come from all walks of life, religion, political persuasions and occupations, united by our love of travel and people--and food.

A year ago four of us started planning the second really big get-together--the first was two years ago in Savannah. Because of the magnitude of the event and the cost, we needed to have the venues identified and the general outline so that we could approximate the cost and announce it on the boards. People needed to plan early.

Meet the planning committee: Palma from Palm Desert, Shannon from Ocean Beach-San Diego, Marcia from South Pasadena and Me from San Diego

It was a fun year as the four of us (with our husbands who were the foot soldiers in this undertaking) met, sampled foods, checked venues, decided on wines and just got into it. To give credit, Shannon was the mastermind behind it all-a woman of vision and creative ideas.

The kick-off event was at our house Friday night. It was a wonderful evening, as people connected for the weekend. The weather cooperated and let us use our patio/pool area which was much nicer than only having the inside available. Palma, who is an accomplished party giver and chef, prepared the food which was not only delicious but visually stunning. How many have seen penguins made from cream cheese, olives and carrots for feet?
On the TV there was a continual slide show composed of pictures people had sent me of their travels. Throughout the evening there was a different combination of folks watching and pointing out friends who were not with us or their own special memories. It was fun.

Saturday night found us all at a real Mexican Fiesta with food by women who prepared foods native to their parts of Mexico. It was not the typical beans, rice and tacos that so often typifies Mexican food here in the US. We had a live band, two palm readers, a presentation of the Queen and her Court--Pauline the founder of Slow Travel and 4 of the original moderators in attendance. (Pauline has announced that she is now the Queen-Mum and the Queenship has passed to Kim.) Each of the court was presented with a lovely bouquet enclosing a bottle of  exquisite Sant' Antonio Olive Oil--donated by Nico who came from Italy for the weekend festivities.

The weekend was capped off with a delightful brunch at the Island Palms Resort in a room overlooking the marina with hundreds of sail boats, big and little. The sun glistened and all was picture perfect. The mimosa bar was a popular hangout, of course. People talked and talked and talked--leaving much of the food untouched. The weekend was about over and there was so much to say to new and old friends before everyone departed for far away places. There is talk of where the next one will be--maybe Boston or New Jersey or ???. Before leaving, there was one last irresistible shot of those who had ordered very special glasses from Mindy. Those of us who did not order, wished we had.

Aren't they Great? Nico is there in front.

During the day, there were no official planned activities but many unofficial. People visited two California missions, safaried at the Wild Animal Park, meandered in Balboa Park and into its wonderful museums,  kayaked in La Jolla, traveled to Niki de Saint Phalle Sculpture Gardens in Escondido and, most bizarrely, participated in Shannon's In-and-Out Burger and Wine Pairing event.

Ken and I spent our off event hours with Nico, showing him a little part of our world, including Casey's Little League game which to Nico was a baseball "match"--until someone set him straight. What fun to explain baseball to someone without a clue. But, he enjoyed it and went home with new learnings. Sunday he saw beautiful La Jolla even stopping for Italian gelato--US style. It was such a pleasure for us to have him here. His beautiful Sant' Antonio in Montepulciano is one of our most favorite places in this wide world.

So this is the weekend that was. It will be fondly recalled by all who attended and talked about as long as there is a Slow Travel. If you would like to see a photo shot of the entire weekend, this is a link to my Flickr pics.   Taste of San Diego in Pictures   (Be sure to click on slide show in the top right corner of the thumb nail page for each set.) Enjoy and join us at the next big GTG--wherever it is! I hope to see you there.


Soultravelers3 said...

Looks like you all had a fantastic time! Fun to read and see! Hugs to all ...especially our fave "Italian" tween, Casey!

Chiocciola said...

Jane, I read the updates and the blogs during and after the GTG and it really sounded amazing. What a job you and the other organizers did! The food (at all the events) sounded perfect. I have already made Nutella panna cotta once and I want to make it again soon!