Markus' Travel and International Living Blog

Markus is an enthusiastic traveler, who lives in Houston, TX (USA) most of the time, but also spends some time in Saalfelden, near Salzburg (Austria). He is fascinated by travel and also by his experiences gathered by living in two different countries and continents.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009
TechEd and a Hockey Game in L.A.

We just returned from a week-long trip to L.A., mainly to visit the Microsoft TechEd Conference. It was a decent (although not great... kinda slow, really) conference, and we were plenty busy with 2 different booths as part of the trade show, and I also presented my first ever TechEd session (which went very well and allowed me to check off another item of my bucket list). There were a few notes of general travel interest though:

First of all, the hotel. As all TechEd speakers, we stayed at the Sheraton down town, and I was somewhat disappointed with the hotel. For one, it always ticks me off when a hotel in this price class doesn't have a mini bar. It got even worse though, since they didn't have 24 hour room service. This may or may not matter to you, but if you are there to work (as we were), and you are trying to spend a few hours working in your room rather than going to lunch, it sucks that there is no room service between 10am and 5pm. And frankly, that's just weird! Why would they stop room service during lunch hours of all times?!? One other day, I managed to order room service, but they said they didn't have french fries that day and it would take them longer to get me french fries. Hu?!?

Also, the overall condition and upkeep of the hotel left much to be desired. The air conditioning unit above the bed looked like it was bought used from a Motel 6, and it sounded like a freight train. Oh, and don't even get me started about the Internet connection. 10k download speeds at best. A third of what a 20 year old dial-up modem can do?!? Outrageous. And for some reason, cell phone reception in the hotel was just about non existent too. Not sure why that would be.

So in short: If this wouldn't have been the MS conference hotel, I would have not stayed there, and I will try to avoid the hotel in the future.

One of the days we were there, we were in for quite the treat: We went to see game 6 in the NHL playoffs between the Anaheim Ducks and the Detroit Red Wings. It was an excellent game, and I can only recommend to anyone who has never seen a meaningful hockey game live, to go and see one. Ice Hockey is a great spectator sport! Of course unlike the last hockey game we saw in L.A., this one was not at the Staples Center right next to the conference center, but the Ducks play at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Getting there was a bit tricky, as the traffic in L.A. going that way in the evening is insane! So instead, we went by subway and Amtrak, which was quite the experience. (They should seriously review their check-in process which just seems to be retarded... but in a funny sort of way, rather than an annoying way). There is a stop right next to the Honda Center, so that worked out OK. However, I was glad that we had a right back with someone, rather than going through the mess it usually tends to be with public transportation after sporting events.

Another item of note was the excellent dinner we had at Takami. Actually, the food was pretty good, but not super-great (they have Sushi and other asian food such as Robata), but the setting is incredible. It is at the top of one of the high-rise buildings right down town L.A., and it seems to be one of the cool hang-outs these days. What makes the setting unusual is that one is basically outside at the top floor of the building, only shielded from the elements by wind screens. Pretty cool, and I recommend you check it out. (Note: You have to enter through the building's lobby, and yes, it looks like nobody is home and nothing is going on, but once you get to the restaurant, the place is rocking...)

Other than that, we also went to see the new Star Trek movie, which I liked a lot (and Ellen hated... but she just doesn't like Star Trek for some unfathomable reason...).

And that was about it. No cool parties or anything like that this year. The economy also took TechEd down a notch...

Posted @ 4:02 PM by Egger, Markus ( -
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