Flying westbound is always a strange thing to do. You leave India on Friday and arrive in California on the same Friday. Unlike returning to Hyderabad - where you'll find that you will take-off on a Monday and you don't arrive home until Wednesday. Being exactly halfway around the world will do that... As Amy likes to say, "the only way we could be any further from California is if we were on the moon!!" We left on Friday, 5 October 2012 at 04:20 A.M. - so - right there your interior-clock is a bit screwed-up. The first part of the trip on Emirates Airlines is to Dubai in the UAE. About 3:30 of flight-time...not a bad trip...and business-class on the Boeing 777 is a pretty nice way to go anywhere!
The Dubai Airport is much like most of the now-great transit-stops around the world...real "shop-til-you-drop" places...hard to think of a fancy name-brand store they don't have there. Gucci. Louis Vuitton. Lladro. And all open 24/7. The best part: Starbucks and Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt!! And great duty-free shops...but you need to postpone buying anything there unless you want to consume it while on the trip. No sense carrying bottles (or whatever) for the next ten days when you can just as easily pick up what you need on the way back through Dubai. If you familiarize yourself with duty-free prices around the world, you will find that the prices are a little higher...but it's very convenient!
It's the second part of the journey from India to California that you need to mentally prepare for. It's a 15.5-hour marathon flight over the North Pole (going and coming home)... hopefully - with help of modern chemistry and good timing, you can sleep most if not all of the way. Which we did. I had been suffering from a bad bout of sciatica for the last several months and being in the sitting-position for 21-hours (counting layover) is not what the doctor ordered. It was tough finding a comfortable way to sit or lay down and was quite miserable...but still managed to get some sleep on the way.
Landing in San Francisco was a wake-up call and a real personal bottom for me. I was in so much pain that I really found it necessary to get a wheelchair to get me through U.S. Customs. I found that I could only walk about 50-yards and I needed to rest... We'd still be there if it wasn't for Amy doing her best "for better or for worst" stuff for me...I wanted to walk on my own I just couldn't. Emirates has a car service that was scheduled to take us to the Hilton Union Square in Downtown San Francisco...not a bad wait...we sat and I had an Anchor Steam Beer to celebrate our "welcome home" to California.
Through some mix-up - the Hilton did not have our reservations starting until Sunday and here it was Friday afternoon. The thing we were to soon discover was that this was the "Perfect Storm" week for The City. Big things, huge things were going on and the hotels were packed...virtually sold-out all over the Bay Area. There was the ongoing Fleet Week for the Navy, the America's Cup Race in the harbor, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park, The Oakland A's vs the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS, the Giants vs. the Reds at AT&T Park in the NLDS, University of California Berkeley vs. UCLA in college football (we had tickets for this game!!) and the Napa Valley was entering harvest-time and thir busines time of the year. But thanks to some excellent service by the nice woman behind the counter...we got a room for the first two nights with only a slight delay. The delay was softened by the fact that there is a very nice Starbucks right in the lobby of the Hilton!
After we got settled, we decided that we were just whipped and would just have room-service dinner sent up to our new digs. Now - neither Amy and I are cheapskates - but when we saw the prices on the menu for room-service, we immediately changed our minds. I guess you get used to food prices in India and Asia and after awhile, the idea of paying $25.00 U.S. for a cheeseburger is just too much!! We made our way (I limped) downstairs to check out the hotel restaurant - and found similar pricing and a pretty limited selection of dishes. We decided that there was no way we were going to spend our first night in San Francisco going hungry...so we walked up O'Farrell to find a place to try. It's amazing how many Indian restaurants there are in this part of town! Not an option!! We stumbled-upon "Johnny Foley's Irish House" - a friendly place that not only had decently-priced pub-grub...but some decent ales on tap as well! We had found our home!! I probably had 6 or 7 meals and quite a few beers there over the course of the next ten days!! A real good pub and a home for Giants fans to watch the ball games!!
We made our way up to our room and got a good night's sleep....tomorrow would be Saturday...and the adventure was going to begin. We had appointments with a chiropractor in Orinda (across the Bay Bridge on the Oakland side) in the morning...keeping our fingers-crossed that he could help me...
Our Photos on Facebook do not really begin until our Saturday began...so stay tuned!!!