Tag: travel

Travelogue – the Road Strikes Back

by on Jun.14, 2010, under career, The World

I’m back on the road … well figuratively speaking.  I’ve actually spent very little time in cars during my travels at all.  My travels have been mostly in trains and planes – both for the first trip, just trains for the second.  I have to say that Amtrak’s Acela line is really nice – the business class seats are the equivalent to first class airplane seats and I had none of the hassle of long lines, security checkpoints, or landing or take-off queues.  I stepped on and by the time I found a seat we were already moving (and I’d hardly noticed).

After navigating the urban hedge-maze that is New York’s Penn Station, I found my way to the surface and trekked the 10 blocks to my hotel.  Funny how twice the price seems to buy me about half the room space in NYC vs. SF.  I can’t say that I’m surprised, but I would have enjoyed getting another lucky free upgrade to a bigger suite, but I guess that would be akin to lightning striking the same place twice.  This stay will also be punctuated by the presence of a roommate.

He showed up around dinner time and after walking around for a while, we ended up taking in a movie (I probably wouldn’t have bothered seeing The A-Team in the theaters otherwise – it was enjoyable and clever).  Now we are just chilling out avoiding bed with the noise of World Cup Soccer on the TV in the background (neither of us are sure way, really).  But I think I will soon succumb to sleep and how that my jet lag won’t prevent me from making it to the training I’m here to attend.  Wish me luck.

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Travelogue – Intermezzo

by on Jun.13, 2010, under family

My last morning in San Fran was enjoyable but brief – the subsequent afternoon/evening of travel home was quite the opposite.  But I did finally make it home and was able to enjoy a night’s sleep in my own bed.  Of course after tonight it is another week on the road.  Fun.

After packing up and checking out, I had a nice breakfast at a small diner called the Nob Hill Grille with a current and a former colleague – both the food and the company were good.  There are few better ways to kick off the day than good french toast with real fresh local fruit and creme anglais (accompanied by good coffee and a mimosa, even better).  But once I get to the airport, I find my flight delayed and heavily booked.  It ends up generally a comfortable and pleasant flight, but I’m going to give serious consideration to first class for any future cross-country flights.

My first view of my family in a week comes in the form of my wife and kids pulling up to pick me up at the airport (at least one of them conked out in the back seat).  We make the drive home, sharing stories with my wife and Cricket.  We carry the kids to bed when we get home (Cricket slipped to sleep halfway back), and I start my laundry to prepare for the inevitable next phase.

My kids seemed to inadvertently ease my jet lag adjustment by sleeping in really late.  Beyond giving them sourvenirs, today unfolded like a pretty typical Sunday.  Though it was emphasized with considerable more father-kid time (wife taking a well-deserved respite from them).  There were some moments, some time outs, some whining fits – but it was all par for the course.  I’ll walk out tomorrow morning as if heading to work and then be gone for the week to NYC.

While I’m looking forward to this next trip in some respects, I’ll also be happen when it is done and things go back to normal.  Life on the road is busy, expensive, and no matter how much networking you may do while away, it can leave you feeling disconnected.  If I didn’t come prepared with a handful of books to read and my laptop to browse and blog, I may have gone stir crazy this past week – even in those brief periods of downtime I had.  I’m sure New York will be fun, but I wish I had more time to cleanse my palette.

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Travelogue Day 5 – That’s a Wrap, People

by on Jun.12, 2010, under career, Entertainment, The World

I’m going to write this one before bed rather than after as tomorrow will likely be packed with, well, packing, checking out, and making my way to the airport for my long trip home.  It has been a busy week and I look forward to the brief respite coming ahead (emphasis on brief).

Today went smoothly.  I got more substantial information out of the conference sessions presented today (I also found that standing rather than sitting helped prevent ennui-induced sleepiness).  Not that I’m surprised, but this conference has affirmed that I’m not good at listening to people talk for long periods of time nor am I especially extroverted.  I found that I often relied upon my colleague (who frankly is more entrenched with the software at hand anyway) to take the lead – I would find myself standing nearby as he struck up various conversations with vendors, hosts, and other attendees.  I would occasionally engage in these discussions, but not often initiate them.  In truth it doesn’t especially bother me to recognize this either – my primary focus this week was training and I don’t foresee myself joining user groups or contributing to forums on such matters.  Sure there is the networking aspect, but I doubt that I’d be looking to move to Sydney, Vancouver, or Poland for my next career step (well, maybe Vancouver – that place seems pretty awesome, as did the dude from EA that we met from there).

Once the sessions were done as we all stopped loitering around the foyer outside the conference rooms, my colleague and I worked out dinner arrangements with some of our other colleagues from the SF office (thanks btw, to my uncle and my friend who recommended a dining venue).  After meandering little Italy and parts of northern SF waiting for our party to coalesce (managing to buy some fudge somewhere in the mix of things), we eventually made it to this very interesting Italian restaurant called The Stinking Rose – a moderately prices, but elegantly trimmed establishment that seems to specialize in all things garlic.  From their famous appetizer of bagna calda (garlic cloves with anchovies stewed in olive oil and butter) to their garlic ice cream dessert, no dish is complete without garlic involved.  Unfortunately before we made it through appetizers, one of our party had to call it a night (I think he drink wine too quickly before getting food in his system), but we soldiered on through various starters and succulent main dishes.  None of us had the room or were brave enough to attempt the garlic ice cream, but I have a feeling we would have enjoyed it under different circumstances.

So tonight I spend my last night of quiet hotel solitude.  I will be sad to go since it seems I was just getting adjusted to being here.  I’ll be more sad that I will only have a day at home before I hit the road once more for another conference week away.  Given that I will be readjusting to eastern time and I will be sharing a hotel room next week, my travelogue may not be as in depth or as frequent.  But only time will tell.  Now if you will excuse me, there is an empty king-sized bed beckoning to me.

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Travelogue Day 4 – Adjustments

by on Jun.11, 2010, under Entertainment, The World

I seem to have found the secret to westerly jet lag recovery – alcohol.  Now if I could just get rid of this hangover…

Yesterday went smoothly comparatively speaking.  I made it through the day without needing a nap (though some of the conference sessions threatened to force me into one).  The commencement was great, and the 5-minute lightning talks by various sponsors about their products were fun (especially since they let us text vote on each vendor’s performance – I think the best presenter got something for free, but I can’t remember what).  But then I made some poor session choices and felt my attention and wakefulness slipping, so I skipped the last 2 sessions and retreated to my room to read and relax.

Drinking last night seemed to be inevitable – I was invited to no less than 3 parties (2 of which were sponsored).  The first was the official conference party which included free food and drinks and apparently a RockBand competition with the host (I was tempted to sign up, but didn’t feel I was skilled enough for it).  I stayed for about 15 minutes of it before I got pinged by the people from my company’s SF office to come out and food and drinks with them – so I went (I’ll talk an evening of drinking with a small group of people I know over one with a crowd of strangers).  After a handful of drinks, including a few shots, and some appetizers and a lot of laughing we dispersed.  On my way back ‘home’ I came across party #3 – the remnants of the first party heading for an after party around the corner.  I considered it, but didn’t have the energy left for it.

So after said festivities, I made it back to my room, wound down, and hit the sack just shy of midnight … and didn’t wake up until my alarm went off at 6:30.  I’m hoping that coffee and breakfast will help clear the headache and other post-drinking symptoms.  But I’ve had worse mornings after and this one is worth the mild suffering.

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Travelogue Day 3 – Endulgence

by on Jun.10, 2010, under family, health, The World

Finally I’m getting on track with my sleep … sort of.  After barely staying awake through the second training session yesterday afternoon, I came to my room to collapse for an hour nap.  This helped me get my second wind and stay up until midnight (more typical timing for me).  I still found myself awake at 5 AM, but I belligerently stayed in bed until my alarm went off.  As a result, this post is now coming later in the day than the last two.  I’d say that I’m sorry about this, but I’m really not.

So as part of my efforts to enjoy my trek, I’m making a point of sampling various local cuisines whenever I can.  Since the conference is providing a number of meals for us and I have a decent meal stipend, this is working out fairly well.  I’ve only eaten from the hotel restaurant once so far – apparently the head chef is a contestant on The Next Food Network Star. If the eggs Benedict with crab meat I had for breakfast yesterday was any indication,  then I can see why.  The other samplings I’ve tried while out here include an elegant seafood dinner on Pier 39 (complete with a view of Alcatraz), breakfast at Mel’s Diner, and Jack-in-the-Box (we were aiming for a Japanese sushi place that came well recommended, but they were too busy so we settled).  The catered food so far has been pretty impressive as well – many including well prepared fresh and local produce.  I haven’t planned out the remainder of my dining experiences for the week, but I am trying to skirt the line of adventurous and cautious (I’d rather not end up sick for the rest of the week).

While I am seeming to get my sleep schedule adjusted, I somewhat dread becoming completely acclimated as I will just have to shift back in a few days.  I definitely think that if I plan a vacation out this way anytime in the future (which I’m strongly inclined to do), I will pad it on both ends.  Though I may have to wait until the kids are older (I can just picture Grasshopper bouncing on me in bed at 4 AM ready to take on the world).

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