We arrive at SFO two hours ahead of flight time, but the flight to San Diego is already delayed. It fluctuates among 1:30pm, 1:50pm, and 2:25pm (scheduled flight time is 1pm). The flight from San Diego to Albuquerque is scheduled at 3pm, and if the original flight went as planned, we would have arrived in San Diego at 2:30pm, leaving 30 minutes to make the connection. Since we had no checked luggage, the gate attendant said we were getting moved to the flight leaving in 20 minutes, she didn’t even ask if we were willing to be moved, she just did it on her own (it would have been nice to ask permission first). As a result, we got moved to the end of the boarding queue, which meant we got the last choice of seats on the plane. In San Diego, we have to change terminals, even though it’s all Southwest flights. We have to go outside security and come back in, which takes over 40 minutes. Then in Albuquerque, we go to the shuttle service desk as instructed by the convention information, which would cost $19. The guy behind the desk said the Doubletree hotel offers its own free shuttle service, so I call to confirm and we wait 40 minutes for it to arrive, where mom meets another woman attending the nursing convention.
After dropping off luggage at the hotel, we walk three blocks to Central Avenue, where we were told are good restaurants. I notice that the same names they mentioned were in the hotel information binder, which means they are paid advertisements – no thanks. We walk a few blocks to see what is around – mostly taverns and nightclubs. It’s a Friday night, so young people are out to be seen, and older people are out to have their motorcycles heard. There are also some pizza places, cafes, bistros, and ethnic restaurants, all of which look empty and dodgy for a main thoroughfare. There is a corner market (in the middle of the block), so we might visit after dinner to get some stuff for the hotel (no mini-refrigerator, though).
Dinner is at a small buffet place called Fresh Choices, and the offerings look copied from Fresh Choice (but about 40% of the selection), but for $6.95, it’s not a bad deal. The pizza alone could match the $6.50 “two slice and soda” offer of one of the pizza joints along the road. The food wasn’t top nick, though. That’s funny, because the proprietors also run Nick’s Crossroad Cafe, which shares the room for breakfast and lunch, while the buffet is dinner-only. The Caesar salad was woefully under-dressed, it tasted like unadorned lettuce. The spinach salad added a bit of flavor (and nutrition). From the hot side, some pizza, Greek-style roasted chicken, meatballs, and lasagna were the best. The pasta salad was market-like, but too much dressing flooded my plate. The fettuccine noodles were old and dried out, the fruit (chunks of cantaloupe and canned peaches) looked to be leftover from Nick’s breakfast menu, and I’ll avoid saying anything about the rice pudding.
The Central Market was also pants (look it up). Much of the snack and drink stock was old or outdated (but the alcohol, cigars, and cigarette selection was up-to-date). Prices were somewhat fair, though higher than large supermarkets (which we could not access without a car). I didn’t want to get anything here )I still had a Kashi bar in my computer bag and three bags of airplane peanuts), mom got a couple of drinks.
Back in the room, I find that wireless internet is free, but unsecure and spotty, the connection just drops at unpredictable intervals. I suppose it’s better than nothing, but it will make uploading large videos and blocks of photos near impossible (and I won’t be doing any online purchases or banking while here). Outside the dirty window and across the street is Civic Plaza, where they are showing free, open-air films through the summer, and the very loud volume necessary for the event leeches in the room. In addition, the air conditioner is very loud, and can’t be used if you want to sleep, though mom can fall asleep inside of ten minutes and through anything.