USA – California, San Jose – Silicon Valley

I love #FlashBackFridays I get to reminisce on my travel adventures.

When I learned that we were going to run an event at my clients head office in Palo Alto Silicon Valley -the home to the world’s largest technology companies.  I was beyond ecstatic. Such a privilege to be awarded this opportunity.

The planning was tricky, we had very tight deadlines but we somehow managed to make it work. We would spend 3 days in San Jose for the workshop and 2 days in San Francisco.

As much as this trip was a long life dream, I write this post with a heavy heart. Emotionally it was the hardest trip of my life, a complete emotional roller coaster. I landed in the US on Sunday and early hours on Monday, the dreaded call came in. I learned of the passing of a dear friend and brother. We were so torn but made a decision based on the on information we had received back home. We stayed, and somehow managed to survive the emotional roller coaster. The day time was way better than the night time.

Where we stayed

Our base was San Jose, the third-largest city by population in California, the tenth-largest by population in the United States and a major technology hub in the California bay area.

san-jose

Our accommodation was booked at the Hilton Hotel, I usually like to write a basic review of the hotels I stay at but our experience at the Hilton was not great.

On arrival we had issues with our booking, the staff working the afternoon shift were clueless and credit cards were billed incorrectly.  The hotel rooms and bathrooms are old, the carpet in the room is questionable. The hotel is in need of a refurbishment.

This is the 3rd Hilton Hotel that just seem to have lost the edge slightly, the is no longer what it used to be.  The only thing that I  did like was the fact that their Affinity Restaurant & Bar had a Starbucks, I could have my morning coffee fix before going to work.

What we did

The purpose of the trip was a 3 day client workshop at HP Headquarters, 1501 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, California.

We were well received by the HP local team, all our requirements were met with a smile and were made to feel at home. The HP Customer Centre is high tech, love the fact that they use their products for everything. Its great advertising mechanism.

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                              The screens (bottom image) are the HP ENVY Curved All-In-One                                       The world’s widest curved All-in-One 
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Using the Sprout (all-in-one desktop with built in projector, a touch-mat display, and advanced 3D-scanning hardware) in the meeting room – super cool!

We got a tour of the facilities and products in the centre and got to see the original offices of the Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. The entire experience was incredible.

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Touring Silicon Valley

Our last day was spent touring Silicon Valley, our 1st stop was the HP Garage – the birthplace of Silicon Valley. Knowing the history of Silicon Valley, HP and seeing images of the garage, being at 367 Addison Avenue was an unbelievable moment.

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HP Garage

We also got to see the headquarters of LinkedIn, Facebook, Apple, Adobe, Intel and Google. We were fortunate to go inside Intel and we visited the museum.

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Intel Museum
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Facebook Headquartes

Google was another amazing experience, we got access inside one of the buildings thanks to one of the HP managers who had a meeting and invited us all to join him. Having watched the Intern, it was lovely seeing areas where he movie was shot.

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Googleplex
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The Tyrannosaurs Rex skeleton named Stan which was discovered near Google’s headquarters. 
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Different versions of Android, named after something sweet- kitkat, froyo, gingerbread, marshmallow, lollipop, honeycomb, eclair, ice cream sandwich, cupcake, donut, jelly bean.

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We then spent the afternoon at Stanford University and did the walking tour of the university.

The leafy campus in the heart of Silicon Valley has produced some of the most influential tech entrepreneurs since the beginning of Silicon Valley, starting with Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in the mid-30s to the likes of Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the founders of Google, Marissa Meyer (Yahoo), Intel, Netflix, LinkedIn, YouTube…etc

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‘Founded in 1885 by California Senator Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane, in memory of their only child, Leland Jr., who died of typhoid fever at 15, the Stanfords determined that they would use their wealth to do something for “other people’s” children.

They decided to create a university, one that, from the outset, was untraditional: coeducational in a time when most private universities were all-male; nondenominational when most were associated with a religious organization; and avowedly practical, producing “cultured and useful citizens” when most were concerned only with the former.’

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Image on the left is the Hoover Tower, a 285 feet (87m) structure on campus. The tower houses the Hoover Institution Library & Archives founded by Herbert Hoover before he became President of the United States. 
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Views from the top of the Hoover Tower

‘Today Stanford University is one of the world’s leading research universities. It is known for its entrepreneurial character, drawn from the legacy of its founders, Jane and Leland Stanford.’ ** Source http://facts.stanford.edu/about/

Stanford has a warm feel to it and get why at times its referred to as the farm. Its a beautiful campus, full of trees, fountains, manicured gardens, great student facilities and lovely frat houses. They seem to have everything there: post office, Starbucks, eateries, libraries and some form of entertainment. It truly was an amazing experience.

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Fraternity Houses

Where we ate?

I was tasked with finding dinner restaurants while we were in San Jose. 1st night we had dinner at our hotel restaurant, the Affinity Restaurant & Bar – the only good thing about the Hilton. Their menu selection was substantial and catered to most people, the food was appetizing and the service was great.

Our 2nd night we had dinner at The Grill on the Alley, a well renowned Steak house. The food here was exceptional, they serve large portions of steaks, chops, fresh seafood and pasta. The vegetable were cooked well…overall amazing dining experience. Highly recommend it, its a tad pricey but we left feeling extremely satisfied.

On the last night we ventured out to Santana Row – an outdoor shopping mall in San Jose at times referred to at the Rodeo Drive of San Jose. We had dinner at El Jardin Tequila Bar & Restaurant, we could not come to San Jose and not have Mexican food. For me the atmosphere, service and vibe were great but I was not blown away by the food. We shared Nachos as a starter and I had a burrito which tasted ok. Apparently the Tacos were not bad, should have ordered those.

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Santana Row
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Santana Row

Even though we were in San Jose for business, the trip was great. My highlight was being in Silicon Valley, definitely a place that I would visit again.

Look out for my post next Friday, I will be blogging about our adventures in San Francisco.

Till next Friday, stay Splendid!

TS!

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