Mystery Trip: Day 1, part 2

And we’re off!

The Pendry is located in the Gaslamp District:

No, I don’t know why it’s called the Gaslamp District, nor has anyone offered an explanation. It certainly gives off that aura of being a tourist center, does it not? And given our stated preference for fine dining, craft cocktails, and artsy stuff, we set off to explore the neighborhood to find these things and start mapping out our dining plans, etc.

Oddly, there did not seem to be many especially fine dining places, nor craft cocktail bars. There were plenty of restaurants, but most of them were solid but basic kinds of places, and most places seemed to be beer kinds of places rather than great cocktails. It was a puzzlement, until we saw…

Petco Park. Home of the Padres. Who have never won a national championship (I learned from our handout; no team from San Diego ever has). The Gaslamp District is a sportsball district.

And artsy stuff? Nada.

Not a problem. We know how to find what we want. We retired to the Pendry’s Fifth & Rose bar, which does serve craft cocktails, for a mid-afternoon tipple and a chat with the bartender, Cody.

I had the Smoke & Mirrors (by Shane, who joined us anon): mezcal, Amaro Montenegro, sweet vermouth, and a house blended smoke and salt bitters. It was very tasty.

I’ve learned by now that if you’re unfamiliar with the city and want to know where the most interesting cocktails are, all you have to do is find a bar that serves those kinds of things and you ask the bartender where the other great bars are.

So of course Cody was able to give us a quick list of places to check out. I’ll report back.

The good folk at Pack Up & Go had scheduled us for a neat little pasta-making class for dinner, but while we rested back in the room — all right, we took a nap — I did some checking about and discovered that the Old Globe Theatre had a show that night: The Notebooks of Leonardo daVinci, conceived and constructed by Mary Zimmerman.

Mary Zimmerman, you may recall, was the deviser of Metamorphoses, a kaleidoscopic adaptation of Ovid’s masterpiece, performed in a shallow pool. Half dance, half spectacle, all amazing — we saw it at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theater — and so our evening plans did not involve making pasta, which we already know how to do anyway.

I found us a restaurant near the theatre, Parc Bistro-Brasserie, called the pasta place to let them know we weren’t coming, and off we went. (Another factor in our decision was that we already know how to make our own pasta. As one does.)

Parc is a first-rate French restaurant. Our waiter was in fact a rather handsome Frenchman, charming and personable, and the food was excellent. No, I didn’t take photos. (Their barrel-aged Manhattan was also excellent.)

Our travel package included a $50 gift card for Uber, so we snagged a driver to get us to the theatre, which is in Balboa Park, a vast complex of museums.

The Old Globe:

The poster:

The show:

The entire show is simply the words of da Vinci as he scribbled them down in the thousands and thousands of pages he left behind. It is mind-boggling in its construction and staging. See all those filing cabinet drawers that make up the walls of the set? They were ladders, drawers, display cabinets, set pieces. (More photos here.)

Da Vinci’s work and insatiable curiosity were on full display, as was his sometime pettiness: the sequence where he disses sculptors (i.e., Michelangelo, whom we’ve just heard two women drooling over as a bella uomo) was hysterical.

We left the theatre flabbergasted. I was sincerely moved by the man’s insights and humanity. “While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.” So say we all.

We snagged another Uber home and went straight to bed like any elderly couple up way past their bedtime.

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