#WOMBATSDOAMERICA 2015 Day 18
Blogging our recent US trip day by day, a month after the event.
27th November – Balboa Park
I had a lovely time photographing random passers-by as we wandered around Balboa Park, which is full of fascinating architecture, strewn with palm trees, every attractive corner apparently featuring its own talented busker. The photographs of the people will appear in a special section of my photography website, just as soon as I get around to revamping it.
Balboa Park is named after some Spanish seaman (stop it) and is described (by Wikipedia) as a “1,200-acre urban cultural park”. In addition to open space areas, natural vegetation zones, green belts, gardens and walking paths, it contains a shitload of museums (among which, I’ve just discovered, is a Model Railroad Museum – bit dischuffed to have missed that, but hey, we really wouldn’t have had the time what with secretly photographing strangers), several theatres, recreational bits and not a few shops and restaurants.
The day was hot and we started in the rose garden. I’m not normally a fan of the rose, but this was quite pretty, quite smelly (in the over-perfumed bathroom way of roses), and there was a triffid between it and the road.
Across a narrow bridge we were drawn by the sound of fairground music to a carousel, housed in a shed. It’s been operating since 1910, brightly painted animals bouncing up and down as they whizz round. Apparently, if you catch a brass ring from a special dispenser, you get a free ride (note the sign in the photo).
Behatted against the blazing late November sun (I know!), we meandered into the wide, palmed central thoroughfare of the park, El Prado, a long, wide promenade and boulevard. It was lined with impressive buildings, most of them museums. I particularly enjoyed the wood-lath lattice of the botanical garden, fronted by a pleasant pond and a very good Spanish guitar player. Excellent buskers were everywhere. V told us that the buildings were built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, though some have disintegrated and been rebuilt as exact replicas, because the original buildings were mostly plaster-of-Paris and chicken wire.
We ate huge hipster sausages at a caff called Panama 66, gazing past bright green grass and portable toilets at the beautiful California Bell Tower, which contains a construction of bells called a carillon, which strikes the quarter-hours and is loud enough to be heard all over the park. Sodding thing.
Oh, and there’s also a replica of The Globe theatre, which this day was showing ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’. I wonder what the Bard would have made of that? I’ve also just found a reminder in my diary here about going back for a San Diego baseball cap that I’d seen in a shop near La Cuenta, but hadn’t had the cash at the time to buy. I never did go back in the end. That baseball cap is a metaphor for life in many ways. And in a million other ways, it’s not.