On Thursday I speak at NoSQL Now! San Jose. Getting to San Jose from Moscow is an adventure in its own, and past ten years of regular travel taught me (and I'm a stubborn learner) that the best route is via Munich.
But this time, while first myself, and then our corporate booking agent were too busy with something else, cost of a Lufthansa ticket grew somewhat beyond sanity.
So I got a ticket from Moscow to Los Angeles and then to San Jose. Since these were two different airlines (Aeroflot and Alaska), and 13 hours in economy seat is a feat in itself, I was supposed to stay one night in Los Angeles.
This was my first time in this wonderful, and, I have to say, impressive city.
Like, perhaps, many others, I consider seafront the main attraction of a city near the ocean.
Thus, soon after checking in, I left Marriott Hotel Los Angeles with firm intent to reach the nearby Manhattan beach. Thankfully, there weren't many sidewalks, so the choice of the road was easy.
All signs were suggesting that I won't be late for our first date: the setting sun was right ahead, the smell of the ocean was in the air, the map with which I was regularly checking my route unambiguous.
However, 20 minutes down the road our relationship encountered a first test. It was the end of it. I mean, the sidewalk. Not only the sidewalk ceased to exist, but, to make things doubly clear, it ended with a sinister sign. The sign was saying: "Pedestrians prohibited".
Alright, I'm a seasoned traveler after all. I walked back to the hotel, shaking off the regret for the lost time.
At the hotel front desk I learned that for folks like me there is a trolley with romantic name "Ocean express", and, for the modest price of $5, it will take me to the beach.
The first trolley I didn't see fully. I.e. I mostly saw the back of it.
The second came in half an hour and presented me with an encountering with perhaps a true Los Angeles inhabitant.
He refused to let me in the trolley, since he did not have the change for the one hundred dollar bill I gave him.
Yes, ATMs in Moscow give you brand new, ink-smelling hundred dollar bills. In fact, we, muscovites, tend to believe that these bills are the primary export item for the United States. This is perhaps the reason why the driver was so unhappy when I brought one of these nice little pieces of paper back.
Anyway, I got back to the hotel and got it changed. Thank you, Marriott staff!
The next bus didn't come. It was cold, it became dark already, I was dreadfully tired, hungry, impatient, and the freaking bus didn't come.
Dinner at the hotel brought me one of the worst vegan burgers in my life. No, I had worse - you can order one in Moscow's Burger King (Amsterdam's Burger King is alright though). But for Moscow it's explicable, after all people here believe that vegetarians feed on grass and fresh air.
But it was certainly the worst burger I had in America. If you have a chance to stay in Marriott LAX, I highly recommend ordering it, if only for educational purposes.
Having failed to meet me properly, the city also failed to see me off. I almost got late for my flight, having spent immense amount of time first in a traffic jam near the airport, then in the lines. And to top it off, I left my wallet at the gate.
It's the second time in my life I'm in another country, on a business trip, and got no money at all. Thankfully, Hilton San Jose receptionist paid for my taxi, and my beloved wife is making a Western Union transfer as I'm writing this.
But visiting Los Angeles was a lot of fun. I hope, though, that even though I've dropped a few coins there, I won't have to come again.
I'd really like to say: goodbye, LA.