Trip to the US: overview

My original plan of writing a blog post each day completely fell through. I didn’t really feel like writing each morning, I just wanted to catch up with all my online stuff.

On my flight back to Belgium yesterday I was reading Quiet by Susan Cain (I can highly recommend the book). The book is an explanation about introverts, what the difference is between introverts and extroverts and how and why these differences exist. At one point she is talking about a retreat geared towards highly sensitive people. Quiet conversation was encouraged, and there were few group activities. Reading her account of this made me realize that the moments in San Francisco that I enjoyed the most were not the company visits (although they were interesting) but the conversations I got to have with just a few people at a time. Three such moments stand out to me.

The first was walking around Napa with Thomas and Dieter. These 2 guys are definitely extroverts and, as much as I love their loud, happy, exuberant sides, I also loved seeing them more quiet and serious.

The second was walking back to the hostel from the barbecue on the beach with Robbe, Dieter, Christophe and Jonathan. I don’t remember what we talked about during our walk and ride on the bus but I remember it being fascinating and loving it immensely.

The third was on our last day in San Francisco, when we got to do whatever we wanted. I spent most of the day with Tim and Ellen. We had silly times and serious conversations and it was a pretty amazing day.

I also have to mention that I absolutely loved visiting NBC, and that that visit made it (more) clear to me that I want to work in television some day. Managing social media at a television station sounds like a dream job right now.

In front of the green screen at NBC11.

I’ll give a quick overview of the official itinerary.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, on the first day (Friday) we went to Alcatraz, Adobe and an NBA game.

View from Alcatraz’ mess hall.

On Saturday the original plan was to visit Point Reyes National Park. As the weather was very bad the schedule got changed around a bit and we went to Muir Woods, Napa and the beach instead.

The Golden Gate Bridge. This photo has a story behind it that I tell on the Ramen Noodle (see bottom of the post).

Sunday was a sightseeing walk through San Francisco.

Figuring out where to go next.

Monday included Stanford University, Disney Mobile and a walk over the Golden Gate Bridge.

A quiet corner at Stanford University.

Tuesday was VMWare, Nvidia and Storify.

Mythbusters exhibition at Nvidia.

On Wednesday we went to NBC and Samsung.

Samsung Research & Development building.

Thursday nothing was planned so we could do what we wanted, and this was the last day in San Francisco.

Tim Vader

You can see all my photos from San Francisco here

After San Francisco I flew to Cincinnati to visit my dear friends Cliff and Stephanie (and their 3 amazing kids Meagan, Matthew and McKenna). I would like to thank them for once again making me feel at home. I love staying with you guys.

I also saw Jeremy, Daniel and Jenny again, and they gave me a quick tourist tour of Cincinnati (yes, I finally saw something of the city!). They also invited me onto the Ramen Noodle where I shared some funny incidents from my trip to San Francisco. You can listen to it here. And I joined them for the Once Podcast, which you can listen to here, but only listen if you have watched Once Upon A Time up until the episode Stable Boy.

I miss you guys already.

San Francisco day 1: Alcatraz, Adobe and NBA

3 things were planned for our first day: Alcatraz in the morning, Adobe in the afternoon and an NBA game in the evening.

 

First things first though. The room in the hostel. The accommodations are fine, the beds aren’t uncomfortable and we have our own bathroom, but the noise! The windows seem to let through every sound from the street and with this being San Francisco, those noises last deep into the night. I think I woke up every hour or so. At 3am there was a drummer walking down the street that woke all of us up. 1 of my fellow roomies I think woke up as often as I did, because he asked me a couple of times what the time was. I was always surprised how little time had passed.

 

We had to leave at 7.30am (I think, it was early in any case) and had to have eaten before. I also wanted to take a shower after the previous travel-filled day so I got up at 6am and felt surprisingly awake. After a quick Starbucks breakfast (mmm, chai tea latte) we set off towards Alcatraz. We would be walking there through Chinatown. I knew San Francisco had some hills, but some of them were really steep! I think we were all happy when we saw Pier 39.

 

Our group got divided over 2 boats to get to the island. I told my friends that I wanted to go in search of the bat cave that Doc Soto works in on Alcatraz. They didn’t get it, so I had to explain the whole premise of the show. My TV jokes and allusions often get lost (as my reference to Lost did a couple of weeks ago). When we arrived on the island, one of the guides was given a little intro, and then a guy who lived on Alcatraz as a kid told a story of how his father (a guard) was almost killed during one of the most brutal escape attempts.

 

After this we started our proper tour with audio guides. The tour is very impressive, you really don’t get bored. There is so much fascinating history and tidbits. I really liked comparing the fictional stories from the TV show with what actually happened. We had to be back on shore at a certain time to catch a bus to Adobe so I didn’t really have time to go find the bat cave.

 

When we arrived at Adobe we all had to sign a paper before we got our badges and were allowed inside. This turned out to be an NDA, as we got to see some new software features that haven’t been announced yet. After the presentations by Adobe people some of my fellow students gave presentations on things they had made for school using Adobe products. I was very impressed by what they came up with. I have some very talented people studying alongside me.

 

From Adobe we took the bus to Oracle Stadium to watch the San Francisco Warriors play the New Jersey Nets (basketball, fyi). Our seats were pretty high up, but we had an amazing time rooting for the Warriors full force. We tried to get the Mexican Wave going, but apparently this is something unknown to Americans. After a couple of tries some of the people sitting with us caught on and joined in but it never went all the way around. The Warriors led by 10 points most of theĀ  game, until the last minute. With 50 seconds left the Nets came in the lead by 1 point, and they managed to win the game.

 

All the side shows that came with the game really made this evening a lot of fun.

 

When we finally got back to the hostel I was utterly exhausted. I hadn’t expected the days to be this full.