Thursday, August 11, 2016

San Francisco sites

During my very short stay in San Francisco recently, I entered and exited through Oakland and found the transit system to be very efficient.

Beginning with the shuttle service that took you from Oakland International Airport to the Coliseum (former home of the Oakland Raiders and the Oakland Athletics, aka A's).

Once at the Coliseum I took Bay Area Rapid Transit, better known at BART. I admit, I was a little intimidated by BART, especially after viewing the different lines that ran throughout Oakland, San Francisco and neighboring cities:
But once you figure out where you need to go and follow the color-coded graphic, it wasn't all that bad. I took the Green line from the Coliseum to Civic Center/UN Plaza. 

Caution: Be sure to pay attention to the signage along the platforms otherwise you'll miss your stop or do what I almost did, got on the wrong line. It helps to ask someone knowledgeable about the schedule and specific lines. Thanks to the ladies who helped me figure it out!

I couldn't help but notice the massive monument that hovered near BART: the Oakland Coliseum itself. 

Once in the city, I either walked to my destinations or if they were a little further out, I ordered an UBER ride. It was fast and simple with a short wait time for the driver. If you've never taken an UBER ride, visit my dealspotr for a promo code for a free ride. 

Needless to say, the transit system (shuttle, train, and UBER), those specifically that I used, were very efficient, fast and convenient. Glad I used them to get around the city.

Now, the very little site-seeing I was able to do, I did with my Cousins. 

On my way to meet the Cousins, I stopped by Treasure Island (est. circa 1936-37) first. This picturesque spot has a wonderful view of the Bay Bridge and the boat dock.

Back in Oakland and before heading back to the airport, I rendezvoused with the Cousins. 

We ate at Samurai Sushi Boat in Oakland and had ourselves a feast (sorry, no photos taken...we were enjoying our food so much, we completely forgot to snap some photos).

I had a BENTO box with California rolls and Salmon Teriyaki served with soup, salad and rice. 


We walked off our meal with a quick stroll down Jack London Square while soaking up the local vibe at the pier. We even got photo-bombed by some random guy! Don't mind my being oblivious to the lipstick stain on my teeth. Hilarious!

There are a few historical points on the pier (not pictured here, of course...sad to say, I had storage issues on my iPhone 6 Plus and that didn't retain my pics) like the Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon, an historic pub built in 1883 named after John H. Heinold; the USS Potomac referred to as the Floating White House, one of the only few floating museums left in the U.S. once occupied by Franklin Delano Roosevelt; and Jack London's Cabin, a tiny house in the middle of the square believed to have been occupied during the winter of 1897-1898.

We topped off our Jack London Square visit with dessert at Kincaid's Classic American Dining right on the edge of the pier with this to-die-for view (don't hate...I have no pictures). 

Dessert included: Cafe Mocha, Coffee with cream and almond syrup, New York Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, and the prize winner Warm Brie with Macadamia Nut Crust! So yummy!

That concludes my short trip to the Bay Area. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

America's Best Value Inn & Suites SoMa, San Francisco

I've always wanted a career that would allow me to travel, and now my wish came true. I get to travel a handful of times a year, hopefully more.

I recently took a business trip to San Francisco and stayed at America's Best Value Inn & Suites SoMa and have nothing but good things to say.

Here are my top five favorite features about my stay at this hotel:

1) Dead end street. Well L-shaped street anyway. Nestled off Folsom and Hallam streets in San Francisco, ABVIS SoMa (SoMa = South of Market Street) is located caddy corner from a Cul de Sac adjacent to a few houses or town homes, which means no through traffic! 

Directly across from the hotel are what appears to be a three-story business building next to other apartments (judging by the visible balconies). So not quite the alley-view one would expect.

2) Easy street access. As you exit the hotel and turn left for a short walk, you hit Folsom and the city is at your finger tips.

The only drawback is a small pub at the corner that was thriving with late-nighters who were respectful and non-belligerent (thank goodness). I guess it helps that the city (I suppose, anyway) posted a big huge sign at the street's entrance that read: Please be respectful of our neighbors and keep the noise level down (I might be paraphrasing, but you get the point). 

2a) Here's an added bonus: despite the three-story building across from ABVIS, there was just enough room to see the skyline and skyscrapers (in the distance) above the neighbors' rooftops. It was a beautiful view. 

3) Fit for a King. I'm five-feet tall so any room large enough to fit a full, Queen, double or King-sized bed is perfect! This room was equipped with cable TV, a mirrored-desk (in case you want to look at yourself doing work on a laptop or tablet, I guess...OK, so it's a vanity and mirror -- I get it), a min-fridge, a safe located inside the cabinet (too bad the safe didn't work after numerous attempts in changing the combination as instructed in the directions), an open closet with just enough hangers to hang clothes, lay my luggage on top of the luggage rack, an ironing board and an iron (what I call simple amenities).

The bed was calling my name with more pillows than I have in my own house (no joke). It was incredibly comfortable and cozy! Just my size and perfect firmness! You bet I had a very good night's sleep too!

4) Decent sized bathroom. The bathroom, although a little small, was very clean and I especially loved the clear glass doors (maybe they were super clear plastic, I couldn't tell).

Only two shortcomings: a) the shower head did not adjust well and I ended up showering with the equivalent to a garden hose on turbo jet stream (ouch); and b) the small sink was located right next to the toilet, which means guests would have to wait until you finish your business to wash their hands. Awkward.

5) Semi-continental breakfast (not pictured). Semi because there was only once choice of coffee (caffeinated) and Minute Maid orange juice. There were a variety of pastries and muffins to choose from so if you are gluten free or trying to stay away from carb-overload, you'd have to look elsewhere for your morning pick-me-up. Downfall: no fruit or yogurt alternative.

Overall, I had a satisfactory overnight business stay at ABVIS SoMa. I recommend it.

Cost: $209/night (early August rates)

Rating: A-

Friday, August 5, 2016

Funny thing happened on the way to Oakland

I know I'm making light of it (and I really shouldn't), but I thought it worthy to chronicle my business trip to Oakland/San Francisco, thus far.

When I arrived to LAX Parking Lot C, there were no instructions anywhere on where the shuttle picks up. I stood at one of the Shuttle Stops for about 20 minutes before I braved myself to ask a guy, in his car who was parking, where to go. Feeling rather silly, he points me in the direction of the "Depot" and I sheepishly make my onward. Thanks for the detailed information Lot C administrators.

I met this really nice couple on the shuttle who were Hawai'i bound (envy overcame me for a brief moment, then I was over it).

The shuttle bus driver nearly missed my stop at Terminal 3 but after I politely yelled out "Spirit please" she came to a screeching halt. Thanks.

When I went through the automatic doors imagine my surprise when I saw many people camped out (I'm talking families, their luggage and their blankets -- Yes! Blankets...that should have been a red flag, right?). My initial thought was, "Dang! Something cool must be happening in Northern Cal for all these folks to be overnighting it!" Hah! 

As if the a la cart prices for just about everything Spirit could offer wasn't enough (from CARRY-ON fees to select-your-STANDARD-seat fees), the horror to learn that many of these exhausted people were stranded by several canceled flights to Puerto Rico.

One guy said they basically just told everyone to "get off the plane" with no explanation, no meal voucher, no hotel accommodations, nothing.

One lady said something about the pilot having flown too many hours and it was against policy to have him fly further. Understandable. Safe, I suppose.

But I guess that was just the tip of the iceberg when I overheard another lady, who also stranded, have a strong and heated conversation with an attendant at the ticket counter who told her, "You can call Customer Service" to which she replied, "Well, what the *ell are you? I'm telling YOU. Aren't YOU Customer Sevice? Why do I have to call someone else when I'm here now talking to you? Let me see your supervisor!" Ouch!

I'm about to go through TSA shortly and all I can say is, "Hope this goes smoothly." 

I feel for the stranded people who missed their flight to PR.