Photography . . . Travel . . .

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Cosmopolitan Hotel

In 1829 Juan Bandini, the son of a Peruvian sea captain, built his 12-room hacienda in the area of what is now Old Town San Diego. Among other things he used 50,000 adobe bricks in the one-story structure. In 1869 Albert Seeley bought the then crumbling adobe, renovated and added a second story to the building and opened it as the Cosmopolitan Hotel. The hotel operated until 1887, then later served as a store, pickle factory, boarding house and hotel. It was incorporated into the Old Town State Historic Park in 1968. When I moved to San Diego in 1980, and up until it closed for renovations a few years ago, it was the Casa de Bandini Mexican Restaurant.

It has now been restored to the Cosmopolitan Hotel, as it looked in 1887. They kept the original 1829 adobe bricks on the lower floor, and the upper floor exterior siding is wood from 1869. 

The wood bar was in a saloon in Silver City, Idaho in 1870, and spent some time in Tombstone, Arizona before findings its way to San Diego.

We sat outside in the courtyard for lunch. The menu is different, certainly not a Mexican restaurant, but there are some influences. I'm not sure I can describe the theme - I had a salmon and potato tart, with poblano chilis and creme fraiche. It was quite tasty. There are thinly sliced potatoes cooked in butter under that mound of salmon and watercress. Those are the poblano chilis on top.

The floors in the interior dining room are Juan Bandini's original 1829 hardwood. If there wasn't a computer terminal in the background you might think you were back in the late 1800's.

They have 10 hotel rooms on the upper floor. I'll have to go try one some time.

Click here for more pictures from the Cosmopolitan Hotel, a few others from around Old Town, and an assortment of other things, all taken over the last few days with my newest camera, an Olympus Pen E-2P, with 17mm f/2.8 pancake lens.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

San Diego Bay at Night (Shelter Island)

I spent a couple of hours walking with some friends along San Diego Bay on Shelter Island Saturday night. Here's the fishing pier, with the San Diego skyline in the background.

Some views of North Island Naval Air Station (Coronado) with the downtown skyline in the distance.

Click here to see more images from our Saturday evening walk along San Diego Bay.

MIssion San Luis Rey di Francia - San Diego DSLR July Group Shoot

Saturday July 10th was the monthly Group Shoot for the San Diego DSLR Photo Group. This month we went to the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, in Oceanside (north of San Diego). The mission was founded in 1798. Unfortunately, most of it is closed off to the public, and no photography is allowed inside the museum or the church. It was also quite overcast, but still bright, so the sky was about as white as the building, making for some pretty boring or ugly shots anytime you included too much sky (like in the shot below).

Since there was so little color, I switched to black & white, and tried to get a bit closer to things.

Reddish bougainvillea leaves take on a real interesting look though a blue filter.

Click here for more images from the San Luis Rey Mission in Oceanside, California, on July 10, 2010.

Heather's Birthday Trip to Extraordinary Desserts - with a stop in Little Italy for dinner along the way

Thursday was Heather's birthday. Her sister was in town, so the 3 of us went out to dinner, and then afterwards decided it might be fun to go to Extraordinary Desserts on 5th Avenue. Looking back on it, we probably could have skipped the dinner beforehand.

This is the candle on our table at Bencotto Italian Kitchen, in Little Italy, where we had dinner. (I had to find something to do to amuse myself while Heather and Dana caught up on all the family matters.) It's a fairly new (open 5 months now) Northern Italian style restaurant located in a very modern concrete, steel and glass loft condo building. Good food, lots of energy.

Heather and Dana had pasta dishes, I had to try the lamb shank with roasted potatoes (I can make pasta at home). 

It's hard to describe Extraordinary Desserts, except to say that the name is quite accurate, but as luck would have it, we do have a few pictures. First up, the tea selection.

Heather thought some chocolate sounded good, here's her chocolate mouse cake, with Dana's strawberry shortcake in the background.

I went with the chocolate strudel, along with a cup of their very good coffee. Yes, those are real rose petals on top, along with some shaved white and dark chocolate on the 2 chocolate desserts. There was edible gold leaf on Dana's. They take the presentation quite seriously here.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Into The Woods - Los Pinos Mountain - Saturday, July 3, 2010

I drove up to the top of Los Pinos Mountain in southeastern San Diego County yesterday with friends Rae and Robert. We stopped to visit the fire lookout, then headed down the Espinosa Trail. 

The last time I was in the tower was in July of 2006, the day before the big fire that closed much of the area for a couple of years. Norman, the fire lookout who was there yesterday, was there that day in 2006 as well. 

One person will live in that tower for a week or so at a time, longer if there is a big fire and they can't get out. They have a bed, sink, small stove, and an amazing 360-degree view. 

The direct road up to the lookout tower is one-lane, paved. To get back down we took a much longer alternate route, the unpaved, rutted and sometimes rocky Espinosa Trail. The views from the upper part of the trail are pretty spectacular. After that it drops into a ravine and follows a stream drainage, where the trail gets narrow and the brush scrapes against the side of the truck. This trail is definitely not for those who like to keep their paint pristine.

This year's heavy rains, combined with loss of ground cover in some areas from the massive 2006 fire, have left the trail carved up in many spots.

The last time we were out on this section of the trail, in July of 2006, it was about 100F and quite humid. Yesterday it was more like a spring day, probably not even 80F, with lots of flowers in bloom. Very pleasant.

 Back down on Corral Canyon Road, which circles an OHV area.

Part of a fence along the road that leads back out to the highway.

Click here to see more images from our day in the mountains Saturday, July 3, 2010.

Click here to see images from the SCCX (Southern California Club Xterra) trip on this same route in July of 2006.

I took a brief detour to the top of Los Pinos Mountain one day in January of 2009 while on my way to the rail museum at Campo. The fire lookout was closed down of course, and the whole summit was fogged in, giving it a completely different feeling (and no view). You can click here to see a few more shots from that day. Here's what I saw starting back down from the summit.


Flying Leathernecks

This shot may look a bit abstract, but the subject is actually of some historical significance. This is one of the front rotor blades from a USMC CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter. Not just any CH-46, this is the one flown by Capt. Gerry Berry, call sign "Lady Ace 09", that was used to transport the American ambassador out of Saigon on 30 April 1975.

You can see Lady Ace 09 and many other Marine Corps planes and helicopters at the Flying Leatherneck Museum in San Diego, located off Miramar Road on the edge of the Marine Corps Air Station. If you happen to visit on one of their "open cockpit" days as I did, you can even go inside some of the aircraft, including this one.

Click here to see more images from the Flying Leatherneck Museum in San Diego.

Happy 4th of July everyone, and thanks to all my military friends for their service.

About Me

My photo
San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Blog Archive


All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.