Today I flew to Stanford. To stay. Here is my story.
I flew with KLM with a connection at Amsterdam Schiphol airport. At Amsterdam, I tried to get admitted to the lounge even though I was not upgraded to business, and did not yet technically qualify for Gold. As I only had 600 miles less than needed, I was granted lounge access. At the lounge I asked for a temporary gold card and they decided to issue one for me even though I did not yet qualify for gold. The actual gold card will be sent to Israel in about a month, and then I'll ask my parents to forward it here.
On the 747 flight to San Francisco, I enjoyed the best seat on the plane (11F), however when I tried to use the space in front of the seat to sleep in my sleeping bag, a flight attendant told me this is not allowed, so I had to sleep in my seat. I spent most of my time on the plane reading a book I bought and trying to sleep.
We arrived in SFO 10 minutes late, and I was among the first to exit the plane, even before some business class passengers. I rushed to passport control and was admitted without waiting in line at all. The J-1 admission process was longer than usual but I still arrived at the baggage claim area before any luggage came out. After some time, both my suitcases arrived and an airport employee helped me take them off the belt and onto my trolley.
After baggage claim, I took the AirTrain to the car rental building and waited in line. After a short while I got my contract and navigation system and was told to go to the garage and take any compact car. The only problem was, there weren't any. After 30 minutes of asking several employees in the garage and back outside, I was told to take a midsize car instead. The midsize car was huge. I had no problem loading all the luggage in the backseat and the trunk and installing the navigation system. Finding how to adjust the seat, however, took some time.
After all these adjustments, I entered my destination (Wells Fargo bank at Stanford) and started driving out of the airport garage. For some reason, the navigation system did not update and stayed stuck at the airport. I discovered this only when I was in the middle of an 8-lane road going somewhere I didn't know. Luckily, there was a traffic jam and I managed to restart the navigation system, which proceeded to recalculate my route and direct me to the bank. I used that traffic jam also to figure out how to close the windows in this car, which is not as simple as it seems.
When the navigation system told me I have arrived, I noticed a large parking lot, so naturally I parked the car there. I saw parking ticket sales machines so I tried to pay for the parking, but it turned out no change was given and the smallest bill I had was $10. So, I decided to head for the bank without paying for parking.
After asking several people and looking around, I finally managed to locate Wells Fargo bank, which were delighted to have me open an account with them. They filled in some forms for me and told me my account will be ready in 15 minutes. So, I changed my $10 bill into ones and went to pay for the parking, just as I paid $1 for the ticket, some girl there told me I don't have to pay for parking after 4pm. So I headed back to the bank and picked up all the forms and information required to transfer money and also deposited most of my cash.
After finishing with the bank, I went to a small convenience store nearby and bought something to drink. I forgot to mention that while driving I managed to hurt my finger and start bleeding, and since the landing in SFO I had developed a headache, so it was quite hard concentrating on renting the car and opening the account.
With the more important errand settled I could now drive to the motel. I keyed in the address to the navigation system and drove directly to there. I did have to figure out I had to turn into a side street in order to park, though.
I checked in at the motel and paid for 5 nights ($302.5). The room is very small and has almost no closet space, but has hi-speed wireless Internet, a queen-size bed, and a shower and toilet. I brought my luggage into the room, plugged in my laptop and went on line to check email and make some local calls. Then I went to sleep at about 18:30.
I woke up today at 4:30 am, headache free, and ready to start a new day. My plan for this day: blog, unpack, make a plan. Probably I'll go to Stanford and start settling stuff there.