Right next the hotel is a place called Sears World Famous Food. Not quite sure how famous it is around the world, but there was a big queue out the front when we walked by yesterday. So today, we had to visit, if only to see what the fuss was about. Founded in 1938, it was hard to tell if it’s old-school appearance was all genuine or more recently re-created. Service, however was super quick. Seconds after we sat down someone came to take our order. I’m sure the cup of coffee was delivered to table before I even got to the second syllable of “coffee”. Interactions with our server were short and sharp. Friendly, but curt. Very soon a short stack of pancakes arrived and my coffee was topped up. Bottomless drinks really seem to be a thing here. Pancakes were delicious, Perry enjoyed his Eggs Benedict. After about the second mouthful, the bill was placed on the table. So, we got the hint that his wasn’t the kind of place to linger over a slow breakfast. Eat up, get out, don’t wait about. And so, after a delicious breakfast, we did just that. (Sorry, was too hungry, no brekky photos, but you probably know what pancakes look like)
Today, we decided to get out of the city. Time to visit to a little town called Cupertino. It mightn’t mean much to normal people, but nerds like me know it very well – it’s the home of Apple.
It was about two hours away – first we took another one of those electric trolley buses, then a Caltrain train, then there was a bus at the other end as well.
The first bus was easy, then we made the connection to the train with a few seconds to spare. The trains are pretty funny looking to us Sydney-siders. It’s a double-decker, but the doors are on the lower floor level. Train stations here have platforms that are like two foot high if they’re lucky. The train trip was a bit over an hour, travelling through a number of famous Silicon Valley towns that became home to big companies, like:
- Palo Alto (Hewlett-Packard)
- Mountain View (Google),
- Sunnyvale (AMD, Atari, Silicon Graphics)
- Menlo Park (Facebook)
We reached Santa Clara station, saw the wait for the bus was 20 mins, and also saw there was no way to top up our Clipper (i.e Opal) cards. It’s hard to believe Sydney is ahead of anywhere in the world for public transport, but I’m pretty sure you can top up your opal card at any station on the network. Here it seems only certain stations have a Clipper top-up machine. And to top up online? That’ll take a few days. Seems kinda crazy but that’s how it is. Anyway to cut out the 20 minute wait for the bus (and to cut out the 20-odd stops the bus would make), we got an Uber from Santa Clara to Apple Park. Much easier, and well worth the $15.
And then, there we were. Apple Park. The giant spaceship. The place where they’re busily designing the next generation of iThings.
Of course us mere mortals are not allowed into the big spaceship building itself. There’s a visitors centre across the road, so in we went. First thing we saw was the Café, and mercifully it wasn’t crowded. So on this warm day getting a cool drink was the first priority. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the menus were on iPads. Ordering, however, was done the old-fashioned way – talking to actual humans (yeah, somehow I coped 🙂 ). Drinks were paid for with Apple Pay, of course.
They had a great AR (augmented reality) experience at the visitor centre – basically they had a big tabletop sculpture of Apple Park and its surrounds – but when viewed through one of the supplied iPads, it transformed into an interactive, detailed view of the buildings and surrounds – you could (virtually) pop the tops off the buildings to look inside, or see how all the solar power was generated, or watch how the aircon systems dealt with the hot and cold air as efficiently as possible (because gee, aircon is fascinating…..?)
Never missing an opportunity to part you from their money, there was also a big Apple Store there. It also stocks some merchandise only available at this one store. Being the massive Apple fanboy that I am, of course I bought some stuff. 🙂
Upstairs there was a rooftop terrace, giving a few more glimpses of Apple Park itself, plus a chance to get auburn rid you stay up there too long. Again we’ve been blessed with another beautiful day of Californian weather – very clear, dry, sunny, and warm.
After enjoying our time there and paying our respects (ok, our dollars) to the Apple retail gods, it was time to move on. We caught another Uber to the station, and back on the train to San Francisco. This time we chose to sit upstairs. Things got weird. There’s a row of single seats on each side, and the middle just has big luggage areas, and a void where you can see straight through to the bottom half of the carriage. Again, as a Sydney-sider, it sure looks weird, seems like a big waste of useful space. Still, it’s a comfy enough space to spend an hour and a bit. Even if it is … weird.
I also took a walk this arvo down to the Union Square Apple store. (because surely I hadn’t Apple’d enough already today…) Its front doors are like three storeys high – opening the whole shop out to the street. It also has a nice courtyard out the back, and a San Francisco touch – a sculpture about Love. Aww…
This evening we caught a streetcar down near the waterfront for tonight’s show – Priscilla Queen of the Desert, as performed by a local queer community theatre troupe.
Dare I say this theatre company might not have quite the same access to financial resources when compared to the professional production. What it may lack in money it makes up for in heart. And painted cardboard. But geez, those accents! Somewhere between Ameri-English-Kiwi-Greek-Stralian at times. Mind you even professional broadway performers can’t nail non-American accents (Kinky Boots, I’m looking st you!) so hey what can you do, at least they gave it a red hot go. They’ve stuck very closely to the script – so there’s probably a theatre full of people still wondering … who the hell are Scott and Charlene?
It might be tempting to mock all forms of community theatre just because it’s kinda easy to do so. But fair? Not at all. These people are out there, doing it, living their dream and putting on a show. So I say more power to them.
Getting home from Priscilla was a bit of a drag (see what I did there?), what with having to wait 30 mins for a streetcar. I think we blew the days Uber budget already with the Apple trips. So, we waited, watched life’s rich pageant pass by til the streetcar finally arrived to take us home. And here we are, ready for another fun adventure tomorrow.