We celebrated my grandmother’s birthday in San Diego, California. We decided to go to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park during the day and go out to dinner at Vintana at night.
It was unusual weather for San Diego as it was cloudy and rainy. Not the picture perfect postcard you see everywhere. However, this was good news for us since the animals were quite active in the cooler weather.
San Diego has two zoos. The original is close to downtown and has all sorts of animals while the Safari Park has only animals from the Safari or Africa. It used to be called the Wild Animal Park. We headed towards the tram ride through the safari, on the way walking through a bird enclosure, seeing some small animals such as the bat eared fox, and the elephants. Going in September was also quite lucky as there were many baby animals present.
We waited for the tram for a few minutes and could see some animals from where we stood. We would get a closer look later when we were on the tram. The first animals we saw on the tram were the cheetahs and their babies lying near the fence watching us as much as we were watching them. The tram takes you around “Africa:” A large “enclosure,” it is so open and huge that enclosures are not the right word, which is divided into sections- North, South, East, and West Africa. The animals in each section are from that area in Africa. All the animals were quite active.
After the tram ride we stopped by the lions’ enclosure and got quite a close up as two of the lions were right next to the glass the majority of the time. The volunteer informed us that these were young lions. The male barely started showing his mane, which they start getting at two years of age. After watching them laze about we then went back to the main part of the park and visited the bat room. They were huge! Some were sleeping and others were cleaning their wings. We then got lunch.
We decided to just see the tigers and the gorillas before leaving. We headed to the tiger enclosure, which just opened within the past few years. There were some new babies- almost a year old. One tiger was several months older as his mother rejected him due to health conditions and went back in the breeding market producing three more children. We watched as the one stalked his mother and then pounced only to receive no reaction. It was adorable.
The gorillas were not excited about the rain as the other animals were. They hid out in their caves for a bit, but was finally brought out by either hunger or boredom. They wandered around while very cautiously picking up berries and eating them. It is amazing to watch such powerful animals be so delicate.
We had to get ready for dinner so we proceeded to return home only to find San Diego traffic. The traffic isn’t normally this bad, but due to the unusual rain- everyone was quite confused. Many locals say they love the rain, but I believe that is only because it happens so rarely. Seeing them drive, it is more like they are scared of the rain. Since it doesn’t happen often, there is no routine or habit for the rain. It just disrupts THE routine. We still managed to get back with time to spare.
Our dinner reservations were at 6:45. We got there right in time and was seated promptly. We sat near the window, not at the window, which disappointed my grandmother since it offered views of the town and the fountain in front. On Tuesdays at Vintana, they offer a special called Date Night. For 49.99, one receives two entrees and a bottle of wine. Dad and I ordered that and grandma order what she wanted. We all split the wine. The food was absolutely amazing and the service was brilliant. We told the waiter it was my grandma’s birthday and the manager came by with a sign birthday card and at the end of the meal we received a tart custard with a candle. I would definitely recommend it.