From my point of view traveling is one of the best thing ever. You should move from one place to another, enjoy the unique atmosphere which many places offer and meet a lot of interesting people. Some of them disappear very quickly, but on the other hand you should turn first impressions into a friendship in many situations if you are on the right place with the right people. I haven’t traveled much yet. I have visited some places in Europe and Africa for a vacation purposes and New Zealand where I spent 10 months.
I met some very nice people these and with some of them I am still in touch. One of these people is Jessica who I met in Wanaka. She is originally from Chicago, but she moved to Portland where she married and raised a family. With her husband they invited me to Portland to show me the some interesting places over there. I agreed and because Portland is very close to San Francisco it seemed as a very nice trip for a day or two off. I bought flight tickets and realized everything during last weekend.
Quite a long time I was thinking how to get to the San Francisco International airport early in the morning. I really wanted to use BART, what is a quite good public transport here in Bay Area, but my flight was scheduled very early therefore I decided to use taxi instead of. In fact, I was quite excited about this possibility, because I had been wondering how cool should be call a taxi by waving your hands. On Saturday I woke up very early, packed my things and went outside of my apartment to look for a cab. I was walking for a while when I saw the first taxi car. Unfortunately it was quite far away, but I decided to make a particular effort to catch this one. In a second I started to run very quickly. Not as Usain Bolt, but my speed was good enough to be there just before the driver stopped the car and took a waiting passenger he originally considered.
Unfortunately there was a complication. Even the second person and I had similar considered route (he wanted to stop at the first station of BART and I wanted to go to the airport) and the driver could make more money because the similar way for both of us, he wanted just to take just one of us for any reason. He probably was not agile enough I thought at the first moment and when I Iooked at him how he was leaving I was ready to find another taxi. However, the story with the previous one continues. Suddenly the driver probably imagined he would be able to make more money if he takes also me, so he started driving in a reverse, beeped and tried to keep my attention at all. He definitely changed his mind and took me despite his first decision.
Our trip to airport was all right. We talked a lot about his background. Was originally from San Francisco, but his ancestors came from many places in the world. Actually one of his parents was a native american. That is very rare because many people here are either immigrants or have parents who were immigrants before. A part of our discussion was about sport. I asked him some questions about American football and Super Bowl if he watched the final match. He was too disgusted he replied and remembered how 49ers (San Francisco team) used to be very good team before. The second passenger added some stories about Texas. I know that Texas is a very unique state. They have a little bit different education system for instance even the rest of the union is pretty standardized in this area. He was talking about night life there and about some troubles for the owner of some bars. If they want to close by 4 am, they should usually call sherifs, because some people simply don’t want to leave it.
The drive dropped me at the airport very quickly and the biggest surprise was I paid much less than I expected. However, the big fun just began. I was walking through the hall and tried to find an information about my connection. It was the easiest part. Unfortunately the departure was completely in a different section. I had had some experience just with international flights and I was wondering how to get there. I found a security and tried to cross a special line. They wanted me to show my ticket which was still online because I hadn’t printed it. So I was wondering how I can do a check in from a different place. Fortunately there were some special kiosks where you should place your passport and the ticket should come afterwards. I needed some help, but after a short explanation I understood whole system very well. Such a big success for me was a moment when I held my ticket in my hands. I passed the security, used a shuttle bus to get to another gate and was waiting for my departure.
Everything went really great. I sat on plane and was wondering how lucky I am to just buy a ticket and travel everywhere I want to. I sat on the 4C seat. There went a woman who seemed like she has a reservation for my place. Are you sitting on 4C seat, she asked. Yes, this is my reservation I replied. Really, she added. Can you please check your ticket, I proposed her. She did it and found her seat is somewhere in the 7th row. Her husband was very laughing about that and they apologized what they did. However, the next passenger proofed me I was actually sitting on 4D seat. I didn’t resist and moved next to him.
The flight was all right. I saw San Francisco from above what was another very nice experience. Another possibility to see how Golden Gate Bridge is a very massive construction. I had also seen Mount Shasta and (probably) Mount Hood few minutes before landing in Portland. After a successful landing some people wanted to leave the plane very quickly, but we had to wait for the ladders. At the airport I enjoyed the atmosphere all around even there was quite cold outside. After a while I found a place for arrivals and I was waiting for Jessica and Nick (her husband) there.
They had some delay, but I recognized them quite quickly and I was happy we found each other quite easily. I sat on their car and had a conversation with Jessica and Nick. They had their daughter Lexi with them on a back seat. We went to downtown and their told me some interesting information about Portland. It is not just a one city, but a place spread into many small towns. The city center was really close to the airport and after a while we were there. I really quickly recognized how unique atmosphere is all around. We parked in the center and were walking around. I have seen many important places there. You can hear many surnames for Portland. A city of roses. A city of beer. Another name should be probably a city of statues. The big surprise was to see a lots of statues everywhere.
The biggest one was Portlandia. According to wikipedia it seems as the second biggest statue in the United States of America, just after the Statue of Liberty. We walked around and I was simply impressed. Not only with the statue, but also with the whole atmosphere. I enjoyed watching traditional Porland tramways for example. In San Francisco I thing the public transport is good enough. There are buses, BART, trolleys and rarely tramways. In Portland there tramways are more frequented. San Francisco is considered as an European city, but actually Portland reminded me Europe much more.
We did some walk around the river. Another nickname for Portland should be a city of bridges. There are probably more bridges than in Prague. After a quick walk we returned back to our car and crossed the first bridge there – Hawthorne Bridge and were looking for a place to eat. We found a Mexican restaurant. Quite interesting things in Portland are quite long queues everywhere. Even you are in suburbs, sometimes you should see the longest queues than in an Apple store for instance. We found that restaurant but we had to wait for a while. However, the waiting was worth. In that queue I was checking my money I withdrew from an ATM. Money here are quite funny things, but this theme probably deserves its own article. I found a note I held in my hands which contained a cell phone number. I took a photo and wanted to spend this note in that restaurant. In the Czech Republic should be a problem to do that, but in the US they probably accept everything. I had held lots of damaged notes, colored with a red dye after a (probably) bank robbery or very old ones. However, nobody had ever complained.
The lunch was delicious and i was really excited to continue with our trip. Another stop was Mount Tabor. I was things about my girlfriend how much I miss her. She is originally from Tabor, a small city in the Czech Republic. In Portland, Mount Tabor is a very nice area with some drinking water resources. We were walking around and watch the city from above. Portland is one of the city where is better to have a car. Downtown is quite all right, but outside is faster to have your own car. Mount Tabor was very nice, but we were really tired. I went to accommodate to my apartment and we decided to meet at 6pm again. I checked in and went to my room. I was wondering to choose either a private room or a dorm one. The first choice sounded much better for me and I was happy my room was exceptionally great. I was relaxing for a while and did some quick walks in the center of the city. Unfortunately the weather changed rapidly and started raining quite rapidly.
Few minutes before 6pm I was waiting for Nick and Jessica. I was at the hostel close to the reception. I started a conversation with the owner. Is everything all right, he asked me directly. Everything is so amazing I replied him. I had some questions about reception opening hours, but I should not worry at all. There was 24/7 duty. We started to talk more. He told me a story about how people in Portland cheat with accommodation. They order a room for just a one person, but in the result they invite some friends to that apparent without any hesitation. The owner, originally from San Francisco, complained about that. However, he was very happy I am a honest guy who don’t do these things. He was proposed me some discount if I arrive next time. I was very appreciated, but was still waiting for my friends. When they arrived we decided to go to a Lebanon restaurant.
The place was really good. We order some traditional Lebanon food and enjoyed it very much. We did some great walks afterwards. I had seen Portland Chinatown as well as the most expensive restaurant there. There was also a place called Voodoo Doughnuts, a very popular doughnuts shop over there. The weather was all right, but I was a little bit tired and I returned back to my place quite soon.
The next day I woke up very early. I had a Skype conversation with my lovely girlfriend and started to implementing some scripts for one projects. I promised to help with some performance benchmarks and I decided to do a preparation in the morning which help me to finish this task in the afternoon quite easily. Jessica and Nick arrived at 9 am and our plan was to go for a branch. I was in a rush, because I had been finishing my support scripts. However, they had written me a sms when I was in a shower and I had some delay. They were really nice on me and waited. I sat in the car and we went to a restaurant at one of Portland suburbs. We crossed another bridge and drove around. Unfortunately there was a very long queue, the longest I have ever seen. Such an ideal time for plan B.
That plan was to go at the place where you can prepare your own pancakes. We went there, but unfortunately the restaurant was really full. They proposed us we should come later, in next 45 minutes. We agreed because the queues were everywhere. However, we did a quick walk to a park close to that restaurant. It was a very nice walk, I liked the atmosphere there, but I was a little bit hungry and I was excited to return back to that restaurant and enjoyed some pancakes. Actually, it was quite a big fun. When we returned back, our seats were prepared. We sat there and order some stuff for our pancakes. I wanted to drink something. I asked the waitress for some recommendations and her answer was Bloody Mary. I decided to try it, but unfortunately when they brought it I couldn’t drink it so much, because it was too strong for me. On the other hand the preparation of our pancakes was really funny. We ordered many ingredients and enjoyed a big fun. Our combinations were probably very extravagant, we mixed some sweet stuff with the others and sometimes the taste was completely different than we expected. I left just Bloody Mary on the table, left the building and Jessica with Nick lifted me at the airport.
We arrived just before 12 o’clock. I wanted to continue with the benchmark task. I printed my ticket, passed through the security and was waiting for my departure. The timing was perfect, I expected to have some problems with internet connection so I prepared all tasks at my hotel room. Such a banalities like export metadata from projects, but because I had had these things done I could continue with development on my way back. Just 10 minutes left to my departure when they were talking about some delay. First it was about 20 minutes, after a while about few hours which extended to departure at 11pm. The reason were technical issues and they had to wait for a component from Denver. Some people were really pissed off, some were standing in a long queue and hoping to get any refund and me? I just opened my transformations and finished some ETL graphs.
However, it was time to consider how to get back to San Francisco. I looked at dashboard with all connections and saw few possibilities there. Unfortunately all connections were provided by United, the same as for the delayed flight and I expected the long queue want to rebook the tickets to these ones. I had been considering to buy a new ticket. Such a great possibility looked in Alaska Airlines. I started running to catch this flight. The gate was on the other side of the airport, but I found it and asked for some free space. Unfortunately it was completely booked, so I returned back. I was wondering what to do afterwards. In next few seconds I got a cool idea to buy a ticket to Oakland. The more I was thinking about it, the more exciting it was. I could realize some other ideas quite easily. I wanted to see Oakland, use a BART, observe street gangs. I was walking for a while when I found the place for Southwest – a company provides regular flights there. I asked for some seat and they had the last one there. I was extremely happy about that and bought this one and after a while I was on plane. I was looking for my seat, but I found very quickly I could sit everywhere I wanted to. The taking off was very smooth and I could also enjoy Portland from above.
The good thing was I had a great company there. Next to me sat Dennis, a former soldier who had been moving to Phoenix in Arizona. A very nice guy who shared some his experience with me. He studied in France for a year, so he has some ideas about Europe. I asked him if he had ever been to Asia. Not for a fun purpose, he replied. We had also an interesting conversation about plane crashes and how would be possible to survive when your plane has technical issues. Also described some interesting things about helicopters and particular accidents there. He described his own experience from his soldier career how they survived really difficult situation on plane. It was interesting, but I was waiting for our landing. Everything went very quickly and I was at the Oakland Airport.
I was expecting some gun shooting, but nothing bad happened. I bought a Air Bart ticket from the airpot to the Coliseum stadium and was waiting for my bus. I hopped on and was observing the atmosphere outside. I saw many palm trees all over and buildings damaged so badly. There was also the stadium of Oakland Raiders, an American football team and the Oracle stadium for baseball. I hopped off the bus at Coliseum and was wondering how to get to downtown of San Francisco in a safe way. There were lots of trouble makers. I asked a police officer to help me to buy a ticket. He was so nice to me and with the ticket I was looking for my train. Some people looked quite dangerous, but I was happy to be there and I also took some photos. My train arrived on time and I could enjoy the trip to downtown.
When I reached the Montgomery station I walked up to street and was extremely happy to be back in San Francisco. I went to our office for another hour and finished my tasks. When I was done, I packed my things and went home to see Juraj. We drank some beer and talked about our experience. Juraj has recognized himself the longer he is here, the more he likes it. I have recognized the United States of America is really a place where I want to be for a long time. The question is how? There are few possibilities, the ideal one would be an unexpected success in the Green Card Lottery. I believe it would be possible to make this happen.