Search Engine Strategies Conference 2004 San Jose, Calgary to San Jose

The trip to San Jose wasn’t the most enjoyable I’ve had, but it was far from a bad experience.

Craig and I breezed through security. It goes to figure that it you arrive with plenty of time at the airport, there won’t be a line for you to have to wait through. If you don’t arrive with sufficient time, the lines will be exceedingly long. We were through in minutes, with more than enough time to spare.

I had to lie at the immigration desk, though. Critical Mass has had so much trouble trying to get across the border into the States that Craig and I played the role of tourists — we’re only here to visit. That’s the problem with crossing the border — since 9/11, the privileges that Canadians have had crossing the border have been greatly reduced. Previously, all we had to say was that we were Canadian, and that was enough. Now, we have to have passports and papers. It’s ridiculous, especially when we’re coming here just for a conference.

What kind of conference, you ask? One on search engines. Yeah, it sounds kinda dopey. It’s the Search Engine Strategies 2004 San Jose show, one of the single largest conferences in this industry. It’s big. Really big. And Craig and I have to make sure that we really make the most of it and see what we can do.

Our flight to San Jose was in two segments: the first to Denver, the second to San Jose. And what we didn’t really know until we checked in was that we had a nearly three-hour delay in Denver. Not the most rivetting place to be stuck. Craig and I passed the time discussing business over beers at a quasi-French restaurant.

(Hmm. That’s not entirely accurate. More like a bistro with a French name. In the middle of Colorado, in a massive airport. Go figure.)

The flight to San Jose was late by nearly 30 minutes. A bit rocky, but uneventful, otherwise. United Airlines has gone cheap, though — you have to pay additionally for meals on domestic flights now. At least beverages are still free.

San Jose’s airport is small — we had to use stairs to get off the plane. Three baggage carousels, kept quite a distance from the plane we arrived on, weren’t enough for the flights coming in — it took a while for our two measly bags to appear. But at least they did.

The hotel was more trouble than I would have liked, but only because Mastercard hasn’t processed my payment yet. A royal pain in the butt, but not the end of the world. It just means that I’ll have to revisit the front desk in the next couple of days to get the issue sorted out. Since it’s a Sunday, I’m not going to get upset. If Tuesday rolls around and things are still amiss, there might be trouble.

The conference doesn’t actually start until tomorrow, but already the cast is beginning to assemble. Craig and I took the chance to whip down to the hotel’s bar to see who was about, and have a beer or two. Two of the speakers were there, along with several other attendees (at least, I would assume as such). We paired off with a couple of Heinekins, and went about ordering some food. We hadn’t eaten since Denver, and it was now almost 22:00. Appetizer platters, including crab cakes, shrimp tempura, basically what I’d call a lobster pogo, and something called black truffle popcorn (although it didn’t taste like a truffle). Pricey, but tasty.

We didn’t stay down for too long. We were both wiped from all the travelling. We cleared the bill, said good night to those around us, and headed for bed.

Certainly the next few days are going to be interesting.