Well after an exceedingly great ODTUG Kaleidoscope conference that hopefully surpassed everyones expectations, it was time to head home. I didn't actually want to head directly home as my best mate from high school was over from Australia for a short visit with his wife, and was in San Francisco over the weekend before heading to Las Vegas, New York, LA and then back home.
I rang up our travel people and asked how much it would cost to change my ticket so I could have a night in San Francisco and on hearing it would cost $1,000 decided I would have to try my luck at the airport or fly to meet him in Las Vegas or New York.
Well I jumped on my scheduled flight from Monterrey to San Francisco on Friday morning (after checking they couldn't help me) and landed in SFO with only 45 minutes before my Chicago flight was due to take off. I thought I had no chance but decided to stand in line to ask the people at the counter. As I was standing there I watched the United message boards and saw they had 58 people on stand-by which gave me a chance.
I was sixth in line and then the second United person at the counter asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to take a later flight. I leaped to the counter and asked if I could be bounced to Saturday. The United representative was ecstatic I didn't want to get on a later flight that day as they were all full. He offered me a 2:00 pm flight, which was great but my mate was flying out at 4:00 pm to Las Vegas so I asked for a later flight. He then asked if I would mind going via Vegas which was perfect as I could fly to Vegas with my mate and then fly on to Chicago. Just to top off being bounced off a flight when you really wanted to be and placed on the perfect flight(s) he then proceeded to give me a voucher for a free return airfare.
Couldn't get any better one would think as I got to spend time with my mate and his wife, and rather than paying money was given a free ticket. But wait there's more - On getting the perfect bounce I jumped on the BART to downtown SF and called a good friend who lives in the city. This friend doesn't have a car and is always very busy at work, but I caught him at a bit of a lull on the work front. What's more he was baby sitting a car for a friend of his due to the issues with parking downtown SF. So not only was I able to meet up with two good mates at once but had a very knowledgeable local tour guide (with car no less) to show us all places we wouldn't have otherwise seen.
Ok at the risk of sounding like one of those TV Commercials ("If you buy within the next 10 minutes you will also get ...") Wait there's still more - As we were driving through Little Italy my Aussie friends said they had heard about this Italian restaurant (don't ask me the name I've forgotten, but it begins with 'T'). SF friend then proceeds to say that it is his favorite Italian restaurant so we decide we will eat there. Now this place is so popular that people stand outside for over 1 hour waiting for their table, unless you have a seasoned local who knows the inside track to reserving a table at a restaurant that doesn't take reservations. So we went and had cocktails for an hour and then walked back and sat down within minutes. Brilliant food, great company - what more could you ask for.
We then topped the night off with a "few" drinks at a place called "Gold Dust" (or something like that very near Union Square) where these three guys would play almost any song imaginable for a dollar. Even caught up with a couple of fellow Aussies from QANTAS in the bar. We stayed till closing - tortuous night - and then very wearily went out to the airport on Saturday to continue our travels.
A special thank-you to my friend in SF for making it such a memorable time for my Aussie friends and I - we all had an absolute blast.
All I can say is -- It was SO meant to be ...
Safe and happy travels to all :)