Day 5: Palo Alto
Today is the final day of my impromptu work-cation. Despite being a software engineer, I’ve never been to Silicon Valley in all my previous trips to SF. Today I will finally make the trek down, meeting up with a friend from high school who works there. After another great breakfast at the Marriott, I checked out and headed towards the Caltrain.
This is one of the main ways to travel around the Bay Area, especially for people commuting to and from Silicon Valley. There are two floors on the train, and if you can get the first row, there’s some great legroom.
I met up with my friend in Mountain View, one of the several suburbs that make up Silicon Valley, most well known for being Google’s HQ. We grabbed some Korean Fried Chicken for lunch and caught up, while running some errands. Afterwards, we drove to Cupertino to visit Apple Park, the newly built "spaceship" campus of Apple.
There was a Visitor's Center which had an aluminum model of the campus. Visitors could use the interactive iPads with augmented reality to see and learn more.
Every part of the Visitor's Center was designed in an Apple-like style, from the elevator to even the washroom. There were also souvenir T-shirts at the Apple Store for an eye watering, but unsurprising $40.
From the roof deck, you can sort of make out the main building behind the tree.
As a huge Apple fan since my high school days, this was a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I was very happy to be able to check this off my bucket list. Next, we headed into Palo Alto to see the Stanford campus.
The campus was vast, beautifully landscaped, and feels more like a really nice rural Spanish village. Even the newer buildings are built using a similar style and color palate. My friend explained to me that there are strong building restrictions around the entire Stanford Conservation Area in Palo Alto, which gives it that country feel. I know I said Berkeley was my dream school, but that was largely because I couldn’t even dream of getting into Stanford. We walked by the business school and discussed that maybe one way we’ll be back here for our MBA.
As the sun started to set, my friend dropped me off at the Palo Alto Caltrain and I headed up towards SFO Airport. For dinner, I first stopped by Yankee Pier, which is a Priority Pass restaurant. I had a lobster roll - making full use of that $28 credit. It was delicious and quite light, which was what I was looking for. I then headed towards the Centurion Lounge.
I had a great dinner here. I was surprised they had kimchi jiggae - a popular Korean stew that my fiancée really loves to make. The unique feature of the SFO outpost is the Napa Valley wine tasting, which I took full advantage of.
The Panna Cotta here was also superb, and there were several people waiting for more - myself included. After dinner, I took a shower and then headed to my gate for the 10pm flight back to Seattle. I wasn’t upgraded to First on this leg, but was able to pick the Economy Plus seats for free. The legroom was excellent, I would say even better than First.
Before long, I was back home and this crazy little getaway was over. Typing this from quarantine 2 months later, I can safely say that I have no regrets. Sometimes when you have an opportunity, you just need to go for it because you never know what’s going to happen or when that opportunity will come again.