One of the benefits of working for the foreign service is a thing called “R&R.” R&R is when we get a plane ticket within a certain dollar amount to get the heck out of dodge and recharge our batteries. To be clear, this is not a free vacation- we have to pay for our hotel, food, and rental car while on R&R, and use vacation time, but the plane ticket is covered, which is a nice perk.
When I found out there was going to be a big celebration for my grandmother’s 90th birthday, I convinced my husband to travel to San Diego for the event using our R&R benefit. My mom and brother were going to be at the celebration, as well as aunts, uncles, and cousins that I haven’t seen in a long time. We decided to tack on a few days on the East coast after spending time in San Diego in order to see my husband’s family and to make the long travel back to Kyiv more bearable.
After 17 1/2 hours of travel (3 hours from Kyiv to Frankfurt, 2 hour layover, and 12 1/2 hour direct flight from Frankfurt to San Diego), I was tired and hungry, but I was not going to rest until I had Mexican food. After getting our rental car and some SIM cards for our phones, we were recommended a Mexican restaurant a short distance from where we got our SIM cards. Oh, it was pure bliss for me – it had been about 10 months since I had proper tacos and margaritas.
Jet lag soon set in and we were asleep shortly after we arrived our hotel around 6PM. We were awake at 3AM the next day, and since we had an early start, we decided to go to the San Diego Zoo that morning. It was great fun and such glorious weather.
We ate at In-N-Out for lunch (duh, can’t visit California without going to In-N-Out), went back to the hotel to rest for a few hours, and then spent the evening at a dear college’s friend’s house, amazed that we were able to stay up until 10PM!
The following day we went to a restaurant where Bobby Flay had the best French toast he ever ate – a banana and peanut butter stuffed French toast. It was good, but I definitely would not say it was the best thing I ever ate.
After breakfast we had some errands to run, then headed to the big 90th birthday party!
Up early at 3AM again the next morning (thanks jet lag) I researched a restaurant that has amazing breakfast- The Mission. A must if you are in San Diego! I got a coffee with Mexican chocolate and tamales and eggs with a chili verde sauce- so good!
Since my brother only lives about an hour and a half from San Diego, we drove up to spend some more time with him and my mom. My mom was staying with my brother for the 90th birthday celebration because she lives out of state. We had Thai food and shaved ice cream for lunch, which definitely was enjoyed!!
The next day was spent running errands, with a break to have some good seafood and walk along the pier in Ocean Beach.
We called it an early night since we were still a little jet lagged and had a 6:45AM flight the next day. After a 5 hour flight, we arrived in Philadelphia, which I will cover in Part 2!!!