The National Salute consists of 16 figures on a circular plaza that surround a sculpture of Bob Hope, entertaining the crowd in front of a microphone. The surrounding figures are authentic depictions of military personnel from different eras including World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War era and the first Persian Gulf War.
Some of the bronze figures that make up the National Salute
Among the many pieces of public art along this waterfront walk, one of the most stunning is “Unconditional Surrender”, a 25-foot sculpture of a sailor kissing a young nurse. The sculpture commemorates the moment when World War II was finally over, and joy and euphoria swept the world. Inspired by a famous photo of the V-J Day Celebrations on Times Square, this sculpture by Seward J. Johnson is on loan to the San Diego port until the end of February of 2009.
Further north along the waterfront is the Cruise Terminal, located at the B Street Pier along North Harbour Drive. San Diego is a port of call for many major cruise lines including Carnival, Holland America, Celebrity, Royal Carribean and Princess Cruises. Almost 620,000 cruise passengers arrived in San Diego in 2006. Local harbour cruises can also be accessed in this area, and a central office of the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau is located right across the street from the cruise terminal.
San Diego – a popular cruise destination
Now it was time to head back into the head hotel and finally check in. Within less than ten minutes I had arrived at the Sofia Hotel. The front office staff was very friendly, and our suitcases had already been brought up to Suite 602, a Deluxe Studio Suite. Our sleek modern bedroom was enhanced by a sitting room with a second flat screen television and an ergonomic desk. Our bathroom featured a full bath with a luxurious shower head, and a vanity area complete with fresh orchids in the bedroom area.
Our comfortable suite
Always driven by my curiosity, I managed to convince two of the hotel’s employees to give me a tour of the entire hotel a few minutes later. Brian Wells from the front desk and Danny Miranda, a bellboy, graciously agreed and started by explaining the history of the Hotel Sofia to me. Two of the hotel’s towers were built in 1926 and opened a year later as the Pickwick Hotel. The property was part of the Pickwick Corporation, a company that provided 22 stage coach routes in California. The design was Neo Gothic and in 1928 two additional hotel towers were added.
Our sitting room
From 1928 to 1944 the hotel even became the location of a broadcasting station called KGB (no association with the former Russian secret service agency). In 1929 Pickwick Stages merged with the Greyhound Corporation. During the 1940s and 1950s the Pickwick Hotel remained a popular tourist and entertainment location, and locals and guests alike enjoyed the Piccadilly Lounge. During the 1950s city council required the decorative architectural elements to be removed from the façade, to prevent potential injuries during an earthquake.
Gorgeous vanity area with fresh orchids