2006 United States – San Francisco

In 2006, together with 4 colleagues; Gery van Tol, Danny Silkens, Albert Silvi and Mike Brunstedt I was selected to visit the Oracle Open World Convention in San Francisco. It was a privilege to be allowed to visit this so much talked about convention. Thousands of keynotes, technical sessions, hands-on lab, demos and exhibitions make it a great opportunity to learn, experience, and share visions on Oracle products and solutions. It was too much for one person to comprehend the vast amount of information that was offered so each of us had their own set of presentations to visit. I was focussing on the business intelligence part of things.

So two days before the beginning of the convention each of us was picked up at their homes and was brought to Dusseldorf airport for the short flight to Frankfurt, followed by the not so short flight to San Francisco. On our arrival we picked up our rental car, which was far to big and unpractical for our liking and drove to our hotel which was ehh.. an ok place to sleep, but nothing more than that. We headed to Gerry’s favorite diner, which was close to the convention center, but after such a long day of traveling it did not become late. On our way back to the motel we passed through some dodgy areas, a good enough excuse to stay close together so neither of us would unintentionally get involved with misfits. It was a strange place…

The next day we only needed to register for the convention so we took the opportunity to make a trip through the area, but before we did that we returned to the airport to swap our rental for a more reasonable sized version. The first place we visited after we had done so was Lombard Street, San Fransisco’s crookedest street.

After Lombard street we cruised a bit through the streets of san Francisco and stopped at some points from where we had a great view over the city.

One thing not to be missed when visiting San Francisco is it’s most famous landmark, which was the next stop at our trip. Having seen the Golden Gate Bridge so many times on pictures or on TV could not prepare me for the excitement driving over it for the very first time of my life. Fortunately the weather was clear so we had good views over the city and of the bridge.

From the bridge it was not far to Sausalito, a far more rural and pleasant place to stay than San Francisco. It was hardly to believe these two places are so close to each other, it was a different world. A small pleasant place, full of restaurants and a harbor, mainly used for yachts.  

We did not stay long here as we wanted to make it to our next destination, California wine country; Napa valley. Nature was stunningly beautiful and I admired the pallet of colors whilst driving by. Absolutely beautiful. Of course we could not miss out on a small wine tasting and with it being such good weather we opted to sit at the terrace in front of the winery, what a way to prepare for a convention.

From here we continued on to Oakland but none of us seemed to be very impressed by the place. It time was passing by quickly after such an eventful day we returned to San Francisco, had a bite to eat and called it a day.

The next 4 days there was no more time for sightseeing as all 5 us us had lots of work to to visiting keynotes, watching demonstrations and get as much information as was humanly possible to take home with us and improve the IT at work using the things learned and ideas picked up. 

I can only say going to the Oracle World Convention is an overwhelming experience. The amount of information, the perfect way that things were being organized and the vast amount of people finding their ways to their individual sessions. It was absolutely amazing. I was deeply impressed by every aspect of the convention but I could not deny the vast amount of information took my mind in a bit of an overdrive…

Traditionally halfway each convention there is a so called “appreciation event” where we could unwind a bit and enjoy good food and a concert on the evening.  The whole event is sponsored by Oracle partners and we could expect some big names on stage. This year was no exception although my boss, Danny, was not impressed and fell asleep halfway the gig. For sure sir Elton would not have been amused if he had known…

On another evening we were invited by Oracle Benelux in the “Bubble Lounge” a place where only champagne was served. This was another great evening full of laughter and perhaps a bit to many bubbles. Needles to say the week was starting to take it’s toll… Fortunately there were colleagues around, not only to make a picture of this so we could have a good laugh afterwards, but also to wake me up so I would not miss out of any of my scheduled sessions.

One day I was finished halfway the afternoon so I decided to make a short ride on one of San Francisco’s cable cars and visit pier 39. It was all a bit touristy for my taste but hey, it would have been a shame to miss out whilst in the area and have some spare time available.

Time was flying by quickly and before we realized the convention was over and we were zipping a beer at the closing party whilst sharing our impressions from the last few days. As already mentioned before It had been an overwhelming experience, but I was convinced that all my scribbles and notes would make sense by the time I returned home and combined them with the hand outs of the presentations. I had gathered tons of information and was now eager of using some of those ideas once back at work.

Instead of flying home the next day all five us us decided to extend another day at our own expense and make another tour of the area. As we had already been north of San Francisco before the convention started we took the opportunity to drive southwards, in the direction of silicon valley.

Distances were larger than we had anticipated in the first instance so we could not complete the trip as we originally had planned but neither of us was really worried about it as it had been another great day, a little bonus to our original planned trip. Back  in san Francisco  enjoyed our final dinner together and then it was time to return to the hotel, pack our suitcases and have a good night of sleep before the long journey home..

It had been a successful week. Of course the main reason for the five of us traveling here was to gather as much information out of the convention as possible and I had the feeling that had worked out really well. But it was nice to have some time before and after the convention to explore the area a bit.during this week we had enjoyed good laughs and excellent comradery amongst colleagues. Who says that business and fun cannot be joined in perfect synergy?