Oh, ok. Not really. We checked in to the hotel and got settled, and then headed out in search of lunch. We decided we were looking for beer & pizza, and eventually ended up at a Round Table. Which almost feels silly, considering all the cool local places we could have gone to. But at that point we were starving and just looking for somewhere with seating that looked promising, and this was the first thing we stumbled across. We ended up staying for almost three hours, through pizza and four of these beers. So good! I don't even know what kind it was, other than pale ale, but very yummy.
The first day of our meeting:
Really cute, but wow do they hurt. I had bought some inserts for the foot ball area, but the problem is that my toes get so crammed into the front and I just don't think they make inserts for that.
After that first day, everyone was meeting at some whine & cheese social, followed by dinner. Personally, I was just not feeling very "business social", and I believe we've discussed my wine-dysfunction. So I decided to skip it in favor of having a walk around Berkeley. I went to a little grocery store and had a peep around, and then found a taqueria for dinner. It's hard when you don't eat meat, because not every restaurant has non-meat options, and, specifically, not all Mexican restaurants don't use lard when cooking their beans. But I don't think I've ever had a bad meal at a taqueria, and I should maybe remember that when debating whether or not to go to one next time.
The hotel we stayed in was super swank "Resort & Spa" that originally opened in 1915 and had been recently redecorated. We got a "special deal" on the room rate, but they nickel and dime you for everything else. Everything. They have an "honor bar" in the room with drinks and snacks and, as an example, had a regular size Mounds bar for $3.75. Seriously. Continental breakfast was $18, and you could get a full pot of coffee delivered to your room for $12.95 plus 22% gratuity, plus $3.50 delivery fee. For a pot of coffee. Seriously? That much money is breakfast for two just about anywhere else.
I want to say that I felt significantly out of place, which I did, but to me that speaks as much to the poor customer service and the nickel and diming as to anything else. I didn't feel like "oh, I don't belong in the 'big leagues'", I felt more like "Who in their right mind pays for things like these?"
The redecoration was... Interesting. The bones of the building were still very 1915, including the interior doors and wood work and the lighting fixtures, but the decor was very much what you might expect from a modern "lavish" hotel. So it was almost this hodge-podge of styles that looked ok on the surface, but once you really started looking closely at the elements, you could really see how they weren't really from the same era or style.
The other thing about staying in a hotel that originally opened in 1915 is that there are, quite definitely, spirits. I didn't try very hard to tap into it, because I needed to actually get some sleep, but when I lay down at night, I could distinctly catch flashes of motion reflected in the mirrors. The closet was creepy as hell, with its original door, and the motion sensor light that stayed on after you shut the door. So picture that style of door, in a dark room, with a ring of light around the door itself. CREEPY!
It was interesting, and some very good things came out of the trip, and, overall, I'm glad I went. I hope next time we can stay somewhere a little less "swank".
PS: Seriously, are all fancy hotels like this?