President in Town

Back in February, just before I was about to leave for San Francisco to attend the Learning and the Brain Conference, the organizers sent us an email about special security measures undertaken at the conference venue, the Fremont Hotel, because of a high profile guest who would be staying at the hotel. Who might that be, was a question everybody tried to answer - Brad Pitt? orGeorge Clooney? No, we concluded it must be a politician - possibly Vice President.

However, it turned out that the high profile guest was no one less than the President himself. But no, even though we were in the same hotel I never caught a glimpse of the President.  We kind of hoped he would drop by and say hi to the attendees, however, the protocol didn't include our conference, but another one in Palo Alto, which was on internet security. Having him stay there meant long lines to pass the security checkpoint and enter the hotel as well as temporary road closures in the neighborhood.

The conference was interesting with some great keynotes and workshops, but it was the city itself that made a huge impression on me. There was the usual hustle and bustle as in any big city, but the ambiance was more laid back and casual, more relaxed and informal than anywhere else. The visit to the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge confirmed that no matter how well I know a landmark from books, photos, songs and movies, it still gives the goosebumps and leaves an extraordinary impression. Just like Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world along with the beautifully steep streets that I first saw years ago in that crazy movie What's up, Doc?, starring Barbara Streisand and Ryan O'Neil. Interestingly enough, but not surprisingly at all, I googled and found my favorite scene with the glass pane on the steep streets of San Francisco.


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