At 08:20 I start the trip to San Francisco -plains, trains but no automobiles, plus a bus and two tubes. After three and a bit hours I arrive at Heathrow. I'm starting to get fed up with travelling and this was the easy part! A sign at the entrance to departures informs me at this is the first day of operation for the new terminal 2 - bearing in mind what happened when terminal 5 opened I'm not sure that this is a good thing. I check my suitcase in wondering if I will see it again. Finally, I check in on foursquare, only to receive an update that Francis Pindar is also at Heathrow and has just received a free upgrade with Virgin from economy to upper class. I'm made up for him and not in the slightest bit raging with jealousy.
After checking in via the only human at a desk (United invited me to check in a variety of different ways, all of which resulted in a request to visit a desk), I am through security in 10 minutes and into the departures hall. This space is unsullied by passengers, but swimming with staff - I calculate the ratio to be approximately 10:1 and spend the next few minutes assuring clearly bored staff that I don't need any assistance.
A couple of minutes wandering round the shops, and I meet up with my fellow UK MVPs Chris Lewis and Simon Lawrence and we pass the remainder of the wait for boarding in Salesforce related conversation. This sets the tone for the week, as every time I turn around I'm greeted by more and more MVPs.
At 13:10 boarding begins. Unlike Francis, I'd paid for my upgrade and only to United's Premium Economy, which had mixed reviews, but I must say that extra leg room is an absolute must and I'd have no hesitation in doing it again. When we board we are told we will be 30 minutes early in San Francisco, but we blow that advantage sitting on the stand and are now back to arriving on time. I watch a couple of movies and some TV shows, but soon start to feel that I'm wasting the gift of time that this 11 hour flight has given me(!) so I get to work on a few blog posts including this one. At 20:10 I feel quite pleased as we are 7 hours into the flight, with only 4 to go. This euphoria lasts for a couple of minutes until I check San Francisco time and realise we are only 6 hours in with 5 to go. I've been given the gift of more time. Yay.
We land at San Francisco on time and clear immigration in a mere 25 minutes - not as fast as last year which took around 10, but still not to be sniffed it given some of the experiences I've had around Dreamforce. We cab into the city for the final leg of the journey to the Palace Hotel - a splendid location in the financial district, and somewhat more luxurious than I am used to. This would be a perfect location for a trip to Dreamforce, as its only a 10 minute (flat!) walk to the Moscone Center, but I'd imagine it would take a small mortgage to be able to afford it at that time of year!
Unpacking in record time, I receive a call from home that my credit card has been blocked. Apparently buying slightly more heating oil than usual at exactly the same time of year as always, from the same company as always, is an indicator that someone is using my card for fraudulent purposes, although they appear to only have my best interests at heart. A few phone calls and an IVR session later and that is sorted - always nice to hit these problems on the other side of the world and 8 hours time difference away. As soon as I finish this I meet David Liu in the corridor (what was I saying about every time I turn around) and we head out to a tavern to meet a few of the others for a quick beer, before heading back to the hotel bar.
As we enter the hotel bar, there are only a couple of MVPs in, but over the next hour or so dozens more arrive and we've taken over pretty much the whole place, rearranged the furniture and are trying to drink them out of Anchor Steam. I run out of steam around 11pm (7am UK time) and head back to my room, only to find a gift from our MVP program managers - a Force.com MVP branded Arc'teryx fleece, converse shoes and a pair of Salesforce sunglasses - its like Christmas in June!