We attempted to get there about the noon opening, but ended up a bit late because of the delay waiting for the parking lot shuttle. This year, having actually heard about the event more than a day early, we parked at the County Center. This resulted in us being dropped off on the west side of Balboa Park. Walking over we enjoyed watching the dogs having fun in the off-leash part of the park, and looking over the historic Cabrio Bridge.
After getting to the main event, we briefly checked out the booths setting up near the west entrance, and then headed into the International Cottages to check out their lunch offerings. After looking at most of the options, Derrick opted for the Irish Stew, I got a sausage and sauerkraut and pickle plate from the House of the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic (which I'm sure was ten or so years ago the Czechoslovakia House) and Tara got a bratwurst from the German House. After that, Derrick got a doughnut like pastry from the Israel House. We then finished our lunch by splitting a Inca Cola from the Peru House and two pistachio baklava from the Turkey House.
We then wandered over to the area near the organ pavilion, where we listed to The Sounds of Freedom -- the choir from the Heritage Christian School. The choir was very good (although at times I was distracted by the combination of the recorded music and a bit too much amplification of the choir, making it sound like it could have been recorded instead of live). I did notice that the choir was a bit heavy in the female voices, which made it hard to hear the men signing the melody line if the women were singing a strong counter melody.
After the choir finished, we got some hot chocolate and cookies, visited the Japanese Friendship Garden and then headed to the main Prado area, and back to the shuttle.
I'm having mixed emotions about next year. I'm hoping to be able to make it to SMOFCon, but will be disappointed to miss the December Nights.