Two days before the MLK Jr. holiday weekend began Franco and I came up with the idea to escape to Baja California, Mexico. Well, what started as a half hearted idea became a reality two days later when we headed to Union Station to catch a train towards San Diego.
Our trip started downtown at Union Station. We took the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner from LA to San Diego. The train dropped us off in Santa Fe Plaza where we hopped on the Blue Line trolley towards San Ysidro. From Santa Fe Plaza it’s about a 30-45 minute ride to the San Ysidro Border Line (also the trolley’s last stop). Once at the final stop there are clearly marked pedestrian walkways and currency exchange tellers, if you haven’t already converted your dollars. We followed the walkway to the border office, waited in line for about 15 minutes, got our passport stamped, and were off!
Over the Border
Since we didn’t drive down we were at the mercy of Uber’s and taxis. Thankfully we were able to catch an Uber from the Border to our Airbnb in La Mision (if you have Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile you should still have minimal service once crossing over into Mexico). What would’ve been a $50 taxi ended up being a $20ish Uber ride. Our Uber driver was super nice and got us to our destination with no problem. We stayed right outside of wine country about an hour away from the Border between Rosarito and Ensenada in a cute and quiet Airbnb. Our host lived in a guarded community (that seemed to be filled with American’s) right off the coast. It seemed that most people staying at our rental drove across the border. Getting around by taxi was a bit of a hassle, but we learned how to do it the cheap way. There’s a regional shuttle/taxi van that runs form La Mision to Rosarito. If you don’t mind getting close with the locals, which we didn’t, you can get up and back for about $8. Yes, eight American dollars. I would only advise you to do this if you speak Spanish or are with someone who speaks Spanish as these are local drivers, passengers, and routes. Franco and I both speak Spanish (although he speaks it better than me lol) so language barriers weren’t an issue for us.
From our Airbnb we walked around the community exploring the beautiful Spanish style houses and coastal views. We ended up grabbing a bite at an American run sports bar about a mile away. Later that night we realized we forgot to pack our toiletries and didn’t feel like walking a mile back to the convenience store, so the community guard let us ride his moped. Riding along the Mexican coast at sunset on a moped is magic. That was one of the coolest most spontaneous experiences we’ve had on a trip. All of the people we encountered were SO nice.
We spent the day in Rosarito and Puerto Nuevo. Rosarito is a touristy beach town not far from the border and Puerto Nuevo is a lobster lover’s dream land. We started our Day pretty early in Rosarito. We ended up getting a delicious, but pricey meal on the beach. Next time we’ll stop at one of the many taco spots around the city. Although we weren’t there at night, there were a few “Señor Frog” esque clubs. We watched a waiter pour tequila into someone’s mouth on the beach while blowing a whistle. With that said, I would assume things can get pretty crazy to say the least… lol. Also to be noted, you can find Donald Trump piñatas at the market there. Something we regret not taking back with us. lol. After Rosarito, we made a quick stop in Puerto Nuevo. We didn’t spend much time there but from what we did see, seafood restaurants cover the blocks. It’s definitely a foodie destination, there isn’t that much to do there other than eat.
We took a taxi van back to the border (“la linea” in spanish) and had to wait in a super long line to get back across into the states. If you have to catch a train or something on the way back I highly suggest you give yourself a two hour buffer time of when you need to get back. We waited about an hour and a half to get to San Ysidro and the experience was way different than crossing into Mexico. There are multiple lines you can wait in without any real explanation as to what the purpose of each one is, vendors walk up and down selling snacks, and you wait with way more people than when entering. We bought some churros for about $1 which made the wait a little better. Eventually we made it across with a bottle of tequila in tow. All in all if you want to head to Baja California (the birthplace of the fish taco) for a quick trip from Los Angeles it can easily and, most importantly, cheaply be done. We’ll definitely be back!