Friday, 11 September 2009

How I spent a long weekend in Mountain View

As it was my first time in California, I did some research to find out how to spend my long 3 days long weekend (labour day on Monday). I got a lo of suggestions which I summarized on my previous post and here I will narrate what I have actually done do that it can be a reference to anyone in my same situation.


Friday: Computer History Museum and running along Steven's creek trail


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After a lunch at the Mongolian Barbecue in Castro street downtown Mountain View, I took my bike to the Computer History Museum, on the way to the Google campus, 15 minutes away from downtown.


The museum has a free entrance and guided tours are also available for free. Don't miss it! The guides are so nice and make the visit a nice experience for anybody, even for non-computer people. I stayed at the museum for about 2 and half hours. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Among the funny things you can see there there is the first Mac ever built, with a wood chassy and the signature "Woz" (Steve Wozniac, Apple co-founder)


I've also seen a working demo of the PDP-1, one of the first small computers. Two elderly engineers have restored one and probably made the restoration as theirs life most exciting project.


Back from the museum I went running along the Steven's Creek trail. The trail goes from Mountain view all the way to the bay (about 8-10 km on way). Unfortunately it is asfalt all the way but at least it is on a separate track shielded from the cars. There are a couple of fountains along the way that make it easier if you want to do a longer run. I run for about 12km but unfortunately it got dark too fast.
It is a perfect trail, anyhow, if you want to ride your bike to the Google campus.


Saturday: bike run in Capitola (Santa Cruz) along the wineries


I joined Santa Cruz Bike tours for a 5/6 hours easy ride along Capitola's coast. I rented a car (they only had a huge SUV that could contain my bike) at Avis in El Camino Real and drove to Capitola.


On the way I drove by Cupertino to take a look at the (disappointing) Apple campus.


Arrived at Capitola, I meet with Marty and Larry from Santa Cruz bike tours. I also meet the group of 7 Canadians that was going to ride with us. It was a great day! The Canadians proved to be hilarious! We rode through Capitola's wharf and took a glimpse of the Begonia festival


Unfortunately my bike was not appropriate for real mountain biking but the path was arranged in a such way that you could skip the hardest parts. Next time I go mountain biking I'll make sure to rent a more appropriate bike.


After having visited two wineries, tasted some great wines and spend about 50 bucks on two bottles, I want to bring home, the friendly Canadians invited me to have dinner together and we went to the local brewery. Before the night was over we also managed to play some beach volley but we were soon kicked out by the police since the beach is strangely closed between 10pm and 6am. We decided then to go and try the roller coaster (Santa Cruz has a very old wooden one) and that scared the hell out of me!!!! I then drove home at around midnight. Thank you Martine, Renee, Angela, Dave, Deanne, Chris. it was a great great fun!


I highly recommend Santa Cruz bike tours. They were so kind to let me join the group with a short notice and I've seen places I would never have seen without them. It was also a very nice way of meeting other people. I wish it was a little cheaper but it I'd totally worth the money.


Monday: Golden gate bridge and Alcatraz


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I jumped on the Caltrain to San Francisco at about 10. You can take the bike in the apposite wagon (the first one?). In one hour and 10 minutes I was in San Francisco.
I did not ride along the coast since I had already spent enough time there (If you haven't, head towards Fisherman's wharf) and so I decided to cross the town center.


I looked at the map and decided: California St: I did not know how steep was the hill! Lot of pain later I reached the top but I don't advice if you don't have a mountain bike. Then I just headed towards the bridge, I could see it from everywhere.


Riding on the bridge was amazing, but even more to look at it from the land (Unfortunately I could only drive on the west side so I could not see the town properly).


I then glided to Sausalito and back on the first ferry to pier 1 (there where other ferries to other piers too but I just took the first one)


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My boat to Alcatraz went a little after 4. Remember to buy tickets a few days in advance. I wanted to take on the morning tickets (the most complete tour) but is was already sold out three days before the tour.


At the isle I got one of those headphones with a recorded guided tour: DON'T MISS IT! The sounds and the voices are really cool. They guide you around and tell the most of the details you need to know about the prison.


I took the last boat (6.10pm), I wish I could have stayed on the isle a little longer.



Tuesday: My first baseball game at the AT&T Arean in SF


San Francisco's baseball arena is great. I saw the match between San Diego Padres and the Giants and from now on I will always be a fan of the Giants!

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