I told you about Santa Monica, but I completely glossed over our seven days in San Diego and on the ship to be part of Semester at Sea’s 50th anniversary via the annual Reunion Voyage. Better late than never, right?
Back in January, my mom and I boarded a plane and headed West (young man). The end goal was to put on a stellar TEDx Semester at Sea, but first we had to indulge in two days in San Diego followed by four nights at sea filled with socializing, fundraising, catching up with old friends and meeting new. I know, I lead a rough life. Pity me, won’t ya?
Reunion Voyages are awesome because they’re full of SAS alumni who are super passionate about the program. We’re talking 50 years worth of people who have held this ship (and past vessels, too) near and dear to their hearts, coming back on as frequently as ISE will let them. I wish everyone I knew could experience one of these; stay on the ship for a mere four days, and you’ll be sold on the program for life, this I guarantee.
Friends of alums are allowed to tagalong on , too, and I was surprised by how many “youngsters” there were, those who had gone on a voyage as recently as last year to plenty my age (31) who had been staffers or students or both. And if you are of college age or have a child who is, I strongly encourage you to check out the upcoming voyages and hop on the SAS bandwagon; you will never regret doing it, though you will definitely regret not.
Reunion Voyages are less about the destination and more about the communion. For example, during the four days on the ship, we only made one stop, in Ensenada, Mexico.
This time, I got off the ship and along with some friends took a taxi to a nearby beach; on my last visit there, I stayed tethered to the MV Explorer all day for embarkation. We did little more than lay out a bit and admired the scenery.
When we had enough of the sand flies as we could take, we all ventured into town and made friends with the locals.
There’s really not a whole lot to do in Ensenada beyond laying out on the beach, eating fish tacos, visiting the nearby wineries and taking tequila shots (we may or may not have partaken). Which is how we found ourselves wandering around the tourist area of downtown when a manager of a bar tempted us in with lures of “support small businesses” and this welcoming sign.
Several beers later, we went to meet up with my mom at a bar appropriately called Tequilas. (It was awesome. If you’re in Ensenada, please go there over Papas! They have quite a few screens where they air a lot of American sports and plenty of soccer, too.) The BCS National Championship game was on, and my dad was attending (War Eagle! … oh wait, we lost) so we stayed glued to the TV until the tail end.
I had planned to do a lot of writing while at sea since it was a pretty lax itinerary, but shocker, I spent all my writing time socializing instead. I met some GREAT people on this voyage, short as it was.
On the sixth day on the ship, we arrived back in San Diego, from where we started. Mom and I spent another night on the MV Explorer, though I did get off briefly to go eat some tasty food at Neighborhood in the Gaslamp. It was an early-ish night, though, because the next day it was go time for TEDx Semester at Sea.
The conference went so smoothly, particularly for a first-time event, and the Union was packed—sold out actually. The speakers were incredible, and if you want to read more about the day itself, you can read my post here.
That night was for was one last hurrah with all my Charlottesville pals before heading back to my San Diego hotel. Mom and I had an early-ish train to catch to LA, and getting back to the room at 4am didn’t make it that easy of a wake-up.
If only taking Amtrak everywhere were as easy as in San Diego. The station was four blocks from our hotel, and we arrived half an hour beforehand, grabbed some coffee and waited (we had pre-purchased our tickets, as they’re often cheaper to buy online).
The train was pretty empty for a Friday morning. We had plenty of space to spread out—and the coastal views weren’t terrible either.
When we got to Union Station in LA, we rented a car right from there and made for Santa Monica. First up was lunch at Back on the Beach Cafe, then we had to quickly check into our hotel and get ready as we were heading to Spencer’s house that night for the #G8FreelancerSummit.
The Summit wasn’t actually a summit, but a gathering of some of my favorite journalist types: Spence, Jade and Bob, Matt, Travis, Scott and Alison, Rachel and Todd, Josh and Alexa. Oh yeah, and Mom was there, too. We all agreed she needs her own site on which we can post her unfiltered musings.
There may have been drinks involved. Because, duh, we’re journalists.
Saturday, we had brunch at Farmshop in Santa Monica with my lovely Lana and her hilarious husband Andre. Leslie Mann and the Apatow children were sitting in the booth next to us. Ryan Phillippe was hanging in the courtyard.
That afternoon, I had planned to exercise my self-restraint along the 3rd Street Promenade, but instead Spencer, Melinda and I met up in Venice Beach for a sort of all-day happy hour, then took our token sunset photos.
I headed back to Santa Monica for (another) happy hour with Kara, Scott and Alison. Fun fact: the three of us gals all met in NYC manning the red carpet back in 2007. I was covering for InStyle, Kara for AMNewYork, Alison for OK! These days, we’re all still doing our thing, and Kara is a senior reporter at Yahoo! Movies and Ali works at The Daily Mail. Scott, of course, is the brilliant author behind The Wolf and the Watchman: A CIA Childhood. And oddly enough, he, Ali and I all worked at Newsweek at the very same time, only on three different continents (Europe, North America, Africa) so none of us knew each other then.
I said good-bye to these guys and headed over to West Hollywood to meet a few SAS friends and see what sort of star-spotting we could do during Golden Globes week. (Five minutes in Eveleigh, and we saw Steve Coogan.)
The whole 10 days could not have been more perfect, and I have to admit it made me miss California something fierce (though if I had stayed out that way, I would have had to migrate south away from the Arctic climate of the Bay Area). Next time, though, perhaps I need more than 36 hours in LA to see all the people I want to see….