My Mom, (who recently turned 80 years “young”), always said…”Nothing in life is free”. Well, Mom, you were “almost” completely right!
For my birthday this year I did something really out of the ordinary: I traveled solo to and from the beautiful Mediterranean picturesque Santa Catalina Island, population just over 3000 (I will be referring to it as Catalina Island ) on my “free” round trip boat ride, courtesy of Catalina Express http://catalinaexpress.com/birthday_promo.html and enjoyed a few other free or discounted goodies thrown in!
You’re probably thinking…”Huh?”…”You’re kidding..” or “What a risk” or “How idiotic”, right?
Nope! Best trip ever! I am still smiling inside!
Although I’m originally from New Jersey, I’ve lived in several cities, states and a few countries. California is especially dear to me because overall, I’ve lived here a total of 18 years. Despite so many years here, I was yet to experience a trip to Catalina.
So, this past April, on my birthday, my husband would be working, my daughter was in school and I didn’t want to “obligate” friend(s) to pay for the round trip boat ride. Plus, and this was a big bonus: I absolutely love photography, and I’d be able to snap away where, what and when I wanted! So….
I drove bright and early from San Diego to Long Beach, grabbed some breakfast, checked in with proof of my actual birthday, received and donned that cool “It’s my birthday” ribbon and boarded the boat! I sat outside and bundled up for the ride!
Oh…I did take some children’s strength medicine for potential motion “challenges” which turned out to be a real plus! Did I say a real plus???? Yep, some queasiness hit me a tiny bit, but I survived!
I’m happy to share some photos and tidbits from my trip.
We left the harbor and suddenly it was extremely windy !
We passed by the Queen Mary on the way to Catalina, another place I’d like to visit sometime soon!
Also saw the “China Shipping Line” En Route!
Aha! Our first view of Catalina Island in the distance!
How cool is this? A parasailer welcoming us!
A view of the beautiful Catalina Island Casino!
The beautiful Carnival Cruise was in port! Passengers took smaller boats to get onto the island.
When I arrived Avalon was very busy with many cruise passengers for the day. Then at around 4 p.m., they all left, and Avalon felt like a ghost town!
Another colorful view of Catalina Island!
Once we happily “disembarked”I was eager to explore Avalon on Catalina Island. What a delightful way to spend the day! I decided not to rent a golf cart (the golf carts are all over the place, since they only allow so many cars on the island and there is a 14 year wait for a car permit)! and strolled at my own pace. Here’s a look at some of the shops and tourist spots I snapped. Feel free to click on each picture for a larger view!
After wandering a bit, I decided to enjoy a delicious lunch and a Margarita at Maggies Blue Rose. I was having such a great time, that I thought…why not stay overnight??? I knew it was completely out of the ordinary for me…but nonetheless decided to do a quick search of hotels but also asked my server what she recommended. Serendipitously, I decided to stay upstairs from Maggies at the Hotel Vista Del Mar. They also had some fun birthday freebies, including a bottle of wine or champagne (I chose the bottle of wine and brought it home), and a celebratory balloon ! I bought a few essentials for staying overnight and relaxed for the rest of my solo journey! Feel free to click on each picture for a larger view!
The Hotel Vista Del Mar has a great fish tank in the lobby filled with colorful fish and coral decor ! It was very relaxing to peek at the tank while relaxing on the lobby which overlooks the water.
Once I checked into the hotel, I decided to take the very interesting Catalina Scenic Tour. The bus driver a.k.a. narrator was terrific spokeperson for the Avalon and island of Catalina.
Here are some of the sights from that trip:
Feel free to click on each picture for a larger view!
After the bus tour, I strolled around Avalon some more. I thoroughly enjoyed a great dinner at Steve’s Steakhouse!
Of course, I then had to sample some ice cream and candy from this place!
Feel free to click on each picture for a larger view!
I noticed the beautiful tiled fountain on Crescent Street, which is made of clay from Catalina Island.
Afterwards, I decided to walk towards the famous Catalina Casino and these are the sights seen on my way! Feel free to click on each picture for a larger view!
That was it for my day in Catalina. Then it was time to get some rest at the hotel! They had some cool DVD’s that I borrowed. I didn’t drink the wine, brought the bottle home, but enjoyed looking at that balloon! Had a great night’s sleep too!
The next morning I decided to venture out a bit more to the casino area, the Museum and then and Descanso Beach Club. Feel free to click on each picture for a larger view!
It was soon time to say goodbye to Catalina Island! Here are some photos from my final minutes of solo joy!
Even though I could have traveled free roundtrip, on the way back to Long Beach, I decided to take advantage of the Commodore Lounge on the Catalina Express for $15 and go back in style!
We were served a drink and a snack, and had very comfy seats!
We arrived back in Long Beach and I happily drove back to San Diego! This was a quick, fun, safe getaway and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Avalon on Catalina Island!
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And now to finish with a Haiku:
Overnight in Catalina Island
Seeing sights, snapping photos
I embraced it all!
A gorgeous island
So perfect for sightseeing
And relaxing too
Yes I will be back
I will bring my family
We shall all have fun!