January 31st, 2009

Montreal

Worldcon Hotel Reservations Open

The Anticipation hotel booking page went online a few hours ago. I think it was probably a few hours earlier than planned; some announcements had said the pages wouldn't go live until 0800 EST, whereas it looks a bit like they went live at 0000 EST instead.

That link above takes you to the hotel booking page, where you enter the dates you want and the number of rooms and guests per room. Click "find lodging" and you'll get a list of hotels with Anticipation's room rates. In order to actually book a room at one of those hotels, you need to then select "View Rooms and Rates," or click on that hotel's name to get more information about it -- you can book the room from either path.

If you need a map to tell you where the hotels are relative to the Palais (convention centre), refer to the hotel locations page on the Anticipation web site.

Generally you don't want to book a room directly with any of the hotels, although I did just notice that the advance purchase (pay now, no refund) rate for the Intercontinental is just slightly less than Anticipation's $175 rate. I don't think saving $3.50/night is worth paying the entire bill up front now with no way of canceling or refunding, though, so I don't recommend the hotel-direct path at all.
Conrunner Kevin

Blink and You'd Miss It

I was a little bit late getting in to watch the woman's tennis final at the Australian Open on account of answering questions and making posts about the opening of online room booking for Anticipation. I figured I'd only missed a few games, but was very surprised when I went into the bedroom, turned on the TV, and found that Serena Williams had won the first set 6-0. Unlike most of the matches with 12:30 AM PST starts, I was actually able to watch the whole thing because it only lasted an hour. Poor Safina only barely missed losing by the most ignominious score in Australian Open history.

Anyway, despite being up so late watching tennis, I had to get up this morning and get moving, because I am heading to downtown San Jose, where I'm going to have a look at the actual practical parking options "on the ground" you might say, and take some pictures of the area around the Fairmont before walking over to the Shark Tank to watch the San Jose Stealth lacrosse game to which I won tickets earlier this week. Nobody took me up on the offer of having my other ticket, so I guess I get an empty seat next to me.
Sharks

Stealthy Affairs

It was a double-header of sorts at the Shark Tank today, with the San Jose Stealth playing lacrosse at 12:30 and the Sharks playing hockey at 7:30 tonight. My ticket, of course, was only for the first game. The lacrosse field is an artificial-turf carpet laid on top of the ice surface. Maybe the cold was why my hands were cold the whole time I was there. (I went and bought a cup of coffee and threw away the cardboard heat shield just to get some heat into my fingers.)

I needn't have worried about getting there early or crowding. I had a row to myself, and it was pretty good seats, too: section 104 (lower deck), row 11, with a good view of one goal. Audience turnout, however, was anemic at best. Even with the upper deck curtained off, the place felt empty. I guest that's why they play loud music during the game, not just during stoppages of play.

I know relatively little about lacrosse, but the game program had a brief introduction to "hockey with balls," and indeed, the game has a lot of similarities to ice hockey, but it has a lot more scoring. And San Jose clearly outmatched Edmonton today, winning by 16 goals to 6. Despite the fast action, I found my attention wandering at times to the Stealth's cheerleaders dance team, one contingent of which spent a fair bit of the game gyrating in an open area right in my line of sight as I looked onto the field. And they were wearing somewhat more interesting outfits than the ones they have on the web page to which I linked. (What appears to be one of the individual dance team member's MySpace page has her wearing the dance team uniform.)

I enjoyed the game, but I don't think I'd pay money to watch a match. Indeed, with my finances being what they are right now, I rather begrudge the money I spent for food and drink at the game, but outside F&B aren't allowed of course, and I did need to eat something. However, I'd go again if someone gave me free tickets. :)
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Fan Photographer at Work

This morning I drove to downtown San Jose and parked in the surface parking lot closest to the Fairmont. The parking programs have changed of late downtown, but free weekends 6 am - 6 pm are currently in force, and the parking lot entry and exit gates were both open, and the machines would not dispense tickets. Collapse )

For about an hour before I had to head off to the Stealth game, I took photos around the Fairmont, in particular taking pictures of every restaurant I could find near the hotel. One of the big complaints at ConJose was that people would come out the front door of the hotel and convention center and see no place to eat -- which is true because there aren't many in direct sight from those two places -- and then conclude there was no place to eat in downtown San Jose, which is emphatically not true.

After shooting both stills and video -- I couldn't resist shooting video of light rail trains passing by -- I stowed my camera under the seat and walked over to the Shark Tank for the Stealth game. That's about a 10-15 minute walk, and I felt smug about parking downtown for free when parking in the lots near the Arena is $10 and up.

After the game, I retrieved my camera and continued shooting more photos, now with the light coming from the west rather than the east. Besides restaurants, I photographed things I think potential con attendees might be interested in knowing were nearby, such as ATMs, a Walgreen's, a Kinko's FedEx Office, UPS Store, US Post Office, and the grocery store located a short walk from the Fairmont. I also took pictures of some of the local attractions, such as the Tech Museum, the Children's Discovery Museum, and so forth.

As my time permits, I plan to put together these photos and video with a map of downtown San Jose to point out where things are relative to the Fairmont. There really is a lot to see, do, and eat in the downtown area if you're wiling to walk more than a block and don't get disheartened just because the only thing you can see out the front door of the hotel is the Plaza de César Chávez.

If things go really well, I hope to make a custom slide show video that we'll be able to show at our room parties. (Yes, if it works, we'll put it on the bid's web site as well.)