April 14, 2012

San Diego Dreaming: Part 1

For the first time ever, I spent my birthday away from the place I call home. But the prospect of going to San Diego for a conference was too exciting to forgo. I loved seeing southern California for the first time and getting to do so with Chris (who was presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association) was icing on the birthday cake.

Although the conference was held in the very cool Gaslamp District, we waited too long in the lead up to the trip to book a decent hotel at a favorable rate.* This was a big conference occurring concurrently with another very big conference held at the convention center so hotel rates were elevated to reflect increased demand.

To save a bit of money we stayed in Little Italy which is a fantastic and vibrant neighborhood, not too far away. The tram made the commute very simple if we didn't feel like walking. And as a resident of Pittsburgh's Little Italy, it quickly felt so homey with its cafes, sidewalk seating, and Italian markets.

Also in the neighborhood was a delicious recommendation I received from reader Megan, who commented so helpfully on this post. She suggested we visit Craft and Commerce which has fantastic cocktails and delicious new American cuisine. We loved it! The decor is very fun and everyone in the restaurant seemed bookish and cool. I ordered fried chicken and Chris ordered mussels. The fried chicken is an entire half chicken so I needed a lot of help in order to even make a dent. Chris obliged as he always does! To start we had devils on horseback (bacon wrapped dates). After gorging ourselves, we almost wished the walk to the hotel was a bit further. But we were very satisfied! I want to ditto Megan's recommendation for anyone visiting San Diego!

We stayed at a place called the Porto Vista Hotel which was a renovated motel made to look boutique-y. The walls were thick enough but the door was aligned poorly so we could hear a lot of outside noise. We slept with the bathroom fan on to drown things out. But it had a nice lobby, fast wifi, and good rates on top of the great location. I wouldn't go out of my way to stay there again but it was clean and just fine for our needs. I will talk about our trips to Coronado, Fashion Valley, and La Jolla in upcoming posts.

*As an aside, I know it is considered questionable form with regard to professional development to stay off site from a conference, (as one of the major objectives is to enable networking opportunities... and if you are on the academic job market mine is legitimately bad advice). But whenever I attend a conference I tend to stay in non-conference hotels. There are almost always cheaper options to be found via discount travel sites that beat conference rates. Conference rates never seem competitive to me. $200+ for a 3 (or even 2.5) star is not appealing from my purview. I've bid on higher stars for less than half that price and been just a ten minute walk away from the action. I also prefer to select hotels that enable slight buffers between me and the conference zone. Otherwise, I worry that the walls have ears. I can't relax if every moment, even the quiet elevator ride from my floor to the lobby feels like a working moment. Frankly, my ability to focus on my presentation preparations while keeping on top of my regular work as a professor just feels easier if I have a bit of comfortable distance. I realize I am in the minority in feeling this way. And depending on your conference personality this might sound totally outlandish. But it is just how I have come to acclimate to this part of my work.


Ways2BWicked said...

Oh my goodness! You went to San Diego! Very, very nice!

Terrie said...

Little Italy looks like food heaven! I have yet to have a conference take me to CA--what is wrong with forensic scientists? I usually pick the hotel based on price and distance from the conference. We went to Atlanta in Feb and I definitely wanted to stay in the conference hotel since we had the baby--it was sooo convenient! It definitely depends on the city too, if there's stuff I want to see.

Megan said...

So glad you had a great time in SD! And that you liked Craft and Commerce! I'm always trying to find an excuse to go there. The bathrooms are papered with The Wealth of Nations, which is kinda kitschy, but it warms my Econ nerd heart. I almost asked if you were coming for ISA, but I didn't want to be a creeper. I presented at the conference on Tuesday. Speaking of being a creeper, I saw you on your birthday! My partner and I were having dinner across the street from Whisknladle, and I saw you walk by! I decided it would be strange if I yelled Happy Birthday, but nevertheless I hope it was a good one. Looking forward to seeing the rest of your trip recap.

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Haha I loved the bathroom's wallpapering too!

It would not have been creeper at all for you to ask. I would have been thrilled to meet up, even! Your suggestions were so helpful and they really enriched our entire trip. I also am cracking up that the world is so small that you saw me on my bday in La Jolla! Next trip we are going to hang out (so long as you don't think it is creepy for me to suggest such a thing). Thank you again for your guidance! I hope you had a great conference!

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Atlanta sounds fun! I've never been. But yeah I do definitely like that conferences provide such useful opportunities to see new places in general. I hope the forensic scientist conference planners pick somewhere great for the next round!

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Thank you! I had such a nice time!

Terrie said...

Actually next year is DC which we're quite familiar with! But I suppose this time we can take baby to the zoo.


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