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Travel Tip #472: How To Look Like You Know What You’re Doing. Kind Of.

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again.

Traveling alone, while completely thrilling in a scary-adrenaline-pumping-whoa-I-just-had-sex-without-a-condom kind of way, is best when punctuated with familiar faces.  Even better when those faces happen to be local.

See, when you have access to a local, and I mean more than a quick information exchange on an airplane or subway though that’s certainly helpful too, you have access to the heart of a place.  The keys to the Camaro.  The ear to its secrets.

And in San Diego, not only did I meet up with long-lost non-local friends, but I met a friend I’d never actually met — an online friend and someone whose words I’ve been reading for over two years, so really it seemed like we’d never not met because honesty, if you haven’t figured it out by now, is kind of hard for a blogger to avoid.

So it’s like we’re in each others’ heads.

Dennis Hong is the founder of Musings on Life and Love, as well as a new relationship advice site called Lemon Vibe, and a regular contributor to Cracked.com and Dear Wendy and probably another one or two or seven that I’m forgetting.  He’s a molecular biologist-turned-high-school-teacher or something along those lines, the American kind of Asian, argumentative, wicked smart, swing dancer, lover of scotch and unwitting connoisseur of saki, has a lovely girlfriend named Melissa, and is an exceedingly talented and prolific writer.

Dennis Hong

See?  Must mean I know him like the back of my hand.

Which doesn’t really mean much, when I think about it, because I doubt I could pick my hand out in a lineup.

Anyway.

Like I said.  While exploring an unknown place on your own can be an incredible, mind opening experience, consulting with a local is, more often than not, the most efficient way to dig around its guts.

He showed me one of the best places for food.

Pulled Pork Sandwich at Searsucker's

(More on this place HERE.)

He told me one of the best places for drinks.

Wimbledon Fizz from Craft and Commerce

(More on this place HERE.)

He showed me his mad swing dancing skills at a place whose surface screamed I’m just a pub! by day but hiked up its poodle skirt by night.

Swing Dancing at Henry's Pub

Henry’s Pub

He showed me saki.  And made me drink it.

Saki San Diego

Uhh… Don’t remember the name of this restaurant.

And he left me with advice of other places to check out, like Kansas City Barbecue, the locale where Goose sings Great Balls of Fire to his kids and the lovely Meg Ryan in Top Gun:

Kansas City Barbecue

And the Top of the Hyatt, which is a FREE — yes I said FREE — elevator excursion to arguably the best view in San Diego.

Hyatt San Diego

It took me no less than 3 elevator rides from the Hyatt’s impressive lobby to get into the correct one — the one that would take me to the top.

Hyatt Elevator

This is me.  Bored in an elevator.  You can’t tell, but I was really excited to get in the right one.

Hyatt San Diego Elevator

Are we there, yet?

Top of the Hyatt

Oh, yes.  We are most certainly there.

Top of the Hyatt
Top of the Hyatt
Top of the Hyatt
Top of the Hyatt

There’s also a bar up there called — get this — Top of the Hyatt.  I didn’t get a drink or even go inside because the place is über fancy which made my jean shorts feel a little Daisy Duke but not as sexy so I skipped it, but here’s my take:  If you’re in San Diego, go to the top of the Hyatt (the floor).  If you’re in San Diego and have money to spend on drinks and are wearing something nicer than Jean Shorts and don’t smell like Saki, go to the Top of the Hyatt (the bar).  Even if they’re extra pricey (they probably are) and not that great (they’re probably not), the euphoric view more than makes up for it.

Since I have an intense aversion to travel research, I never would have known this existed if it weren’t for Dennis.  It was kind of awesome, completely free, and kind of awesome.

So.

Find yourself a local.

And if your local happens to be a swing dancin’ Asian, consider yourself extra lucky.

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Katie

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Comments

Dennis Hong
Reply

Awww, thanks for the shout-out. Glad you had a good time in San Diego!

And I can’t believe you didn’t actually go inside the Top of the Hyatt. It’s San Diego. There’s no dress code. They would not have cared if you’d one in, ya know.

Katie
Reply

I had a great time! Especially after being in the heat of Texas, I realize I could be really content living somewhere with nearly perfect weather.

Just for clarification, I did go inside the bar. I walked through and decided I really didn’t need a drink, especially since I couldn’t pull off the sophisticated, mysterious woman look in such a swanky place with what I was wearing, so I left. :)

Dennis Hong
Reply

By the way, Ra Sushi was the name of the place.

Jamie
Reply

I’ve heard that San Diego is one of the best cities to be in. I must check it out one day! :)

Katie
Reply

It really has a great vibe! Of course, it’s hard to get a great feel for a place that’s consistently overrun with tourists and convention attendees, but this was my second time there and I thoroughly enjoyed it each time. And, you know, it doesn’t hurt when the weather is awesome. :)

Anna
Reply

wait, where is the “more on this later” bit about the best place to eat and get a drink! I want to know where! haha

Katie
Reply

Soon! Those will get their own post. ;)

Matt
Reply

Hey! I can consider myself lucky because I’m going to use YOUR local in a matter of weeks.

Katie
Reply

Sweet! I suppose I can share. ;)

Dennis Hong
Reply

I’m always down for a little usage….

NovaBlast
Reply

You took some awesome pictures and looks like alot of fun. Cool little vacation

Katie
Reply

Thanks! It was definitely a fun vacation.

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