My magical place in San Diego.
Have you ever asked yourself if the place where you are living is where you belong?
Well, I did several times in my life!
I was born in Italy, in Sicily, and even though I love my land, I have never thought to belong to it. Since the first time I visited the U.S. (my first time was to San Francisco), I realized that it was the place I belonged to. I had dreamed of moving to this country for 29 long years before to crown my dream. I have been very lucky to have had the chance to move here, and I feel like destiny had drawn a very complicated plan for me. But in the end, I got it.
Today I live in San Diego, and there is no other place in the world where I would live. I wanted to share with you my favorite place in this amazing county, in the south of the “Golden State.”
A very difficult choice
As you already understood I am in love with this country, especially with this San Diego County. I have a piece of family here, my uncle, my aunt, and my cousin live here, the weather is amazing — not too warm in the summer and not too cold in the winter — great job opportunities, and beautiful places to visit and for spending time outside with family and friends. What else should I desire?
Because of the reasons I just mentioned, it was not easy to choose my favorite place here. There are a lot of beautiful places that I am connected to and that are worthy to be mentioned, but in the end, I have chosen one that is my place of heart… I am talking of Old Town San Diego.
A brief hint of history
As you can assume by the name, Old Town San Diego is the oldest part of the county, but it is also called the birthplace of California. It was the first permanent Spanish settlement here. Father Junipero Serra, in 1769, founded the first of the 21 missions in California, which is in San Diego. San Diego was populated by the Kumeyaay people, who had been living close to the San Diego river for thousands of years.
Mexico became independent after winning the Mexican war of independence in 1821. Then the former Spanish soldiers created a community. In 1846 Mexico’s rule ended, and California became an independent state.
Still today I can see and admire the original buildings from the Mexican period. These structures were made of sun-dried adobe bricks, and still today some of them are visible — one of the most important is the Whaley House, which we will be talking about later.
Because of its history, today Old Town San Diego is a state historic park. If you are interested in visiting some historic buildings, this is the right place. In Old Town State Historic Park, you can still admire some of the first buildings of San Diego, which are today used as restaurants, shops, or museums.
A funny place
Today Old Town San Diego is not only a place of history but also a place where you can have much fun. There are plenty of shops where you can find every kind of gift. You can swing by the candy shop if you want to fill your paper bag with any kind of candies, and those who are a bit older like me will be surprised to find the kinds we used to eat when we were younger… a dive into the past. The colored shops catch you at any step, you can appreciate the stunning Mexican pottery, everywhere colorful plates, calaveras, and many kinds of pots peep out from the display stands, full of happiness and adding joy to your day.
Around there you can find any sort of t-shirt, typical Mexican clothes, and handmade jewelry. The air around is full of the smell of delicious food, making you hungry and curious to try that typical Mexican cuisine. You can choose from different restaurants, and try tacos or carne asada, quesadilla, or camarones. You can enjoy the festive atmosphere sipping a delicious margarita or piña colada — but remember you must be 21 years old for these. Notes of music spread into the place, accompanying you everywhere, putting you in a good mood, and giving you a sense of peace and relaxation.
Meet a ghost
As I said, Old Town San Diego is full of historic buildings. This makes it a place of interest for many people who have a passion for history. It seems, in fact, that Old Town San Diego has a long story of chilling encounters. Yes, you did not read wrong! If you like paranormal you should keep reading. In San Diego, there is the most haunted building in the United States, the Whaley House.
The house had been built on May 1856 by Thomas Whaley, who lived there for decades. They abandoned the house when the paranormal activity became more frequent and a tragedy shook the family, their daughter Violet, in fact, killed herself with her father’s gun.
Thomas Whaley always thought that responsible for the paranormal activity was James “Yankee Jim” Robinson, a person who was been hanged on the property after being found guilty of stealing a boat. You can visit the grave of James Robinson in the El Campo Santo Cemetery close to the house.
Beyond the famous Whaley House, there are a lot of haunted places in Old Town San Diego, another famous is the Cosmopolitan Hotel. This hotel is still open, so it is possible to spend a night there. Furthermore, it is possible to reserve the restaurant inside for your event… who would not want in the wedding album a picture with a ghost? To discover all the haunted buildings there are many tours organized at night, you just need to pick the one that fits you and enjoy it.
It is no more a mystery for you that I love this place. Since the first time I have been there, I felt like it was my place in the world. This is what I call “a place I belong to.” There are magic vibes that give you a sense of peace and joy.
Even when I feel sad or upset for some reason, once I arrive there every bad feeling disappears. Probably it is because of the cheerful music, the vibrant colors, the smell of the delicious food, the funny shops, the ghosts around, or simply the delightful atmosphere, in some way this place enchants me.
This place is reachable by public transportation, busses, trolleys, and trains. Even students of Grossmont College, after a long day of classes and studying, can have a relaxing and fun time around that amazing place and who knows…also meet a ghost too.
|Rossana Di Grande from Italy moved to San Diego four years ago with her family. She started studying towards a degree in Forensic Technology at Grossmont College in February 2022, and her dream is to become a blood patterns expert.|
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