Saturday, August 6, 2011

NoCa & San Francisco Day 1

Back to travel blog writing. The fantastic feedback for the diary from my last US trip in February was the perfect motivation to restart with this new journey.
I cannot promise daily postings because all weekdays next week are workdays in the San Francisco office and we have plans for the evenings like dinner at INCANTO or a ball game at AT&T park. And it's not just "some" ball game ... it's Giants vs Bucs.  Speaking of perfect timing for the trip ;)
And that's why I sometimes might just come home late to fall asleep right away and postpone the one or the other blog post a little bit.

But for now - here we go with day 1:

I am now awake for 27 hours (and now finishing this post I am awake again 5.5 hrs later ... a classic) and I am so tired, that I am not tired any longer. Sounds weird, but for jetlag proven people it makes sense, I guess.

I just arrived in Salinas, California, and I am not yet done accepting this as reality. I mean ... I woke up in my bed this morning - hmmm night (3.45 am) - in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.  And a couple of hours later I find myself in a car driving and performing deep sighs about the rush hour traffic on the 101 South to Los Angeles near San Jose. That's

Traveling ...

But it is not that I got here easily. No, no, no.  Here is the summary ...

  • Getting up - 3.45 am at home in Munich
  • Leaving home - 4.45 am
  • Flight to London - 7.10 am ( I was way too early at the airport but due to all the extra security you never know)
  • Hanging out at Heathrow at 8.30 am local time to 11.30 am with the last good food for a longer time: my favorite BLT from EAT and some fruit salad
  • Flying a loooong time from 11.30 am to 2.00 pm local time (11 hrs) from London to San Francisco with an airplane in a stylish70ies design - only problem: It was not retro chic but original 70ies *ugh*
  • Passport control, looking for suitcase, rental car pick up with searching for the faint memory of how a car works for 2 hrs from 2 pm to 4 pm
  • 4 pm to 6.20 pm drive to Salinas, CA

Seriously - I would prefer teleporting a lot. I am whining so often that it is not yet invented.

Karma boomerang ...

You want to have a little laugh on me? Here you go:

I had just squeezed my butt into the tiny seat of the ancient airplane - aisle seat - when the Italian girl next to me started begging me that she would like to sit with her friends and if I could not switch seats with one of them. I am not naturally unkind and so asked I where the friend was really willing to help. But then the other girl got up from her "middle seat / middle row" place and I said: "NO WAY".  I would have happily switched to make their trip more enjoyable, but I trade only aisle for aisle. Seriously ... for a short flight no problem, but for an 11 hrs transatlantic flight I just don't do it. Of course the girl next to me started hating me immediately and did not make the effort to hide it. She would not sit still for ten minutes in a row and I had all the times elbows, knees and such things "accidentally" kicking me while I was trying to sleep.

And then the karma boomerang hit right away *sigh*. Everybody around me took the headphones and happily made their selection from the huge program of movies and TV shows,  but I could use the touchscreen (I was surprised that there were already touchscreens in the 70ies ;( ) or the control system in my armrest, but the screen just kept being plain black.

The guys from the crew tried their best - restarted the system 3 times, tried to port a movie directly to my screen accompanied by praying, swearing and hitting on the screen but - NOTHING! No single movie could be seen on my system and I could not switch seats (the Italian now did not want a seat with a broken entertainment system - of course) because the damn plane was completely booked. Even in the business and first class. 11 hrs flight and not a single movie? DAMN!

In the end it was not soooo bad because the crew was totally sweet. I guess they were happy that I did not freak out, but it is not their fault so why I should blame them? They tried to help as much as they could. So I became the favorite kid of the cabin crew and got extra drinks delivered to my seat. Snacks (chips and chocolate) from the crew stock and free magazines. They even came around later and offered me for the length of a movie the seat of a passenger, who traveled with one of the crew members and could hang out "backstage" in the crew area for a while. I happily took it.

To summarize the British Airways experience:
Plane crap. Entertainment system super crap. Food mostly awful. Timing excellent (all in time or even early) and a fantastic crew.

Pittsburgh, CA - Part 1

Well, I know and you all know that I know that it is Pittsburgh, PA and not CA, but I will prove in the next few days that you can experience and enjoy lots of Pittsburgh even by being on the west coast if you just get your timings right.

For a slow start:
- Dress yourself with Pirates T-Shirt, Pirates hoodie, classy black yoga pants (hey ... no comments please - I was flying 13 hrs!) and black & gold game day sneakers.
- Choose "I am No. 4" for the only movie you can watch on an transatlantic flight. It was btw ... okay... not really good, but okay. Alex Pettyfer on the other hand was serious eye candy (in the kiddie kind of way because is SO young)  and we like him for liking Pittsburgh and calling himself a Buccos fan before they started to win one or two games ;).

And finally  a few first impressions ....

Just to make sure that I realize where I am:

My new best friend. I have NO IDEA why I did not buy one earlier, but when I was the only one without yesterday in London at the gate I just went in the shop right there and bought this little fellow. Very soft and comfortable.

My license plate. Weird feeling to drive again after a longer time, but I like it :)

The National Steinbeck Center in Salinas where all the Saturday action takes place.

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