Tuesday, May 15, 2012

[Travel] Day 5 - Taking the Long Way to Hong Kong: Anaheim to Chicago

I woke up at 5:30 in the morning, safe in the knowledge that the longest haul of the trip was just about to start. The Super Shuttle was slated to pick me up at 9, leaving me a few hours to work on the trip report and enjoy breakfast.

At around 6:15 I decided to give the Hilton continental breakfast another try. The pastries were exactly the same as two days ago, but this time I had the presence of mind to order Diet Coke. At 6:15 AM. What?

The waiter was spot-on and he had the second glass out as I finished the first and the third glass out when I was only halfway through the second. From the surprised look on my face he must have known that I had only really intended on two, so he brought me a to-go cup for the third. Thoughtful chap!

Thankfully I was protected from the ice cold contents within by that lid
At around 8:30 I headed down to the lobby with the idea that I might use my last Starbucks voucher for an iced tea. There must have been a break in the California PTA conference taking place at the hotel because the Starbucks line practically stretched out the building. They quite efficiently handled us all and after only fifteen minutes I had my iced tea and was on my way.

The Super Shuttle arrived promptly at 9. Traffic, as per usual, was horrendous, but the HOV lane made it a bit more bearable. This would be my first time traveling on any airline other than Delta in about two years, so I was curious to see how American measured up.

Check in was smooth enough. I was hoping to upgrade to first using some American miles but once I started explaining that the original trip was booked using British Airways miles, the poor agent's eyes started to glaze over and I just asked for an exit row.

John Wayne Airport (aka Anaheim/SNA/Orange County) has an Admiral's Club, so I decided to check it out. It's located over the terminal, with interesting views of the rest of the passengers. Other than that it was completely unremarkable. Oh wait, they had Diet 7-Up, which I haven't seen in years. The food selection basically consisted of cookies and cookies. Mmm, cookies. In a rare moment of self-control I gave them a pass.

It's not a Delta club - do I dare be tempted by the vices within?

Nice view

Lots of comfortable seating

Heads down, thumbs up

I love how shiny the American planes are

It's coming right for us!
The flight was, um, interesting. My exit row window seat was configured such that there was nothing in front of me but the door. This meant no underseat storage, which was a fine trade-off for the legroom. What I didn't realize was that my seat effectively located me somewhere north of the Arctic circle. I have pretty awful circulation to begin with but, an hour into the flight, I literally could not feel my feet any more.

I asked the flight attendant for a blanket but they were only available for first class. Ironic in an Alanis Morrisette not-at-all-ironic way. I made do as best I could. On the bright side - always find the bright side - they gave out whole cans of soda rather than Delta's one pour and you're good to go. Two Sprite Zeros later all was okay. The onboard food seemed overpriced and awful even by airline standards. Oh Delta, how I miss your box o'mysteries. Yeah, let's just leave it worded that way, shall we?

I don't know what it is about flying from California but I always spend the flight in these really weird, introspective moods (hah - you thought this was a trip report but I'm actually an emo fourteen year old and you're reading my livejournal suckers!). I should make a new rule that I'm not allowed to listen to This Desert Life on California flights. I came out of it soon enough with a heavy dose of Big Bang Theory. I've known about the show since the first season and I've always enjoyed the episodes I've caught, but it has been carrying me through this trip so far. It hits a bit too close to home sometimes, but I am always ready to laugh at myself.

Weird seat arrangement. Even weirder camera angle.

The vanquisher of 7-Up

Not sure if you can read the sign. It says "Non-Stop to Hong Kong Daily". Why go non-stop when you can transfer in Montreal and then Zurich, right?
Dinner was at a McDonalds in O'Hare. Not proud of that at all. I think it was the first quarter-pounder I've ever had. I then proceeded down to baggage claim to wait for the shuttle to the Country Inn and Suites.

They say one of the best parts of travel is the people you meet on the way. I guarantee you that they did not have my shuttlemate in mind when they said that. I can't do her justice in words. The best I can come up with is that I am 99% sure she was hopped up on so many painkillers and other assorted drugs that her general rambling incoherence would have been amusing if it hadn't been so painful to experience. Plus she's an acting coach. Need I say more?

Check in at the hotel took less than 30 seconds as they just handed me a room key when I walked through the door. Country Inn and Suites is a Carlson chain (I used points from last year's giveaway, a promotion they are running again this year) that competes with Holiday Inn Express. The room was nice enough, though foot traffic in the hall was quite loud. The internet reminded me of my childhood, waiting for pictures to load line-by-line on our 1200 bps modem. It wasn't quite that bad at the hotel, but their throttling back the bandwidth to encourage you to buy the faster internet package was both transparent and unwelcome. Either way, I was asleep shortly after the Heat knocked the Knicks out of the play-offs in preparation for the two days of travel ahead.

Spacious entry area

This set was definitely behind Door Number 2 in 1977

Great amenities if I was staying more than 12 hours

Another picture of a toilet

Surprisingly comfortable bed

Not a view of Disneyland. Not at all.

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