Part 2: My trip to California, from San Jose to San Diego

San Jose, map of California
On: July 15, 2017
In: All categories, Travelling
Views: 140

Still day 2, but now arrived in San Jose

We landed in San Jose two hours behind schedule but still happy and excited to be in a new city. We walked through the airport and I ogled all the souvenir shops wanting to buy a San Jose sharks jersey and a California coffee mug but everybody tell me to wait and do it later. We picked up the luggage and went outside the terminal and got a taxi to our hotel, the Arena Hotel. The hotel was just a slap shot away from the SAP Center where we later in the evening would go to watch San Jose Sharks versus Edmonton Oilers. A NHL game live, a dream since I was 10 years old finally came through.

The Arena Hotel is located on The Alameda in the downtown area. It is a very basic hotel, nothing fancy but very relaxed and nice casual environment.

The Arena Hotel, San Jose Reception at the Arena Hotel, San Jose The room at The Arena Hotel, San Jose

I really like the style of the hotel, I mean the building itself. The house reminds me of my own house back in Sweden. Another thing I truly enjoyed with this hotel is the relaxed atmosphere, nothing fancy but still have everything you need for a comfortable stay. On the third floor there were several vending machines so there were no problem to get the sugar fix in the late evening if needed.

After we checked in to the hotel we rested for a while and later went outside walking in the neighborhood.

The Alameda, San Jose

The style of the buildings along the Alameda street are very special! Almost each house had a different unique look, not as unified as the architecture is in Swedish cities / towns.

Next to the hotel where we stayed there was a CVS Pharmacy. We went there already the first day and fell in love with the store from the first second. Pharmacy doesn’t sound like a very nice place to go shopping but CVS Pharmacy is different. CVS sells prescription drugs and a wide assortment of general merchandise, including over-the-counter drugs, beauty products and cosmetics, film and photo finishing services, seasonal merchandise, greeting cards, and convenience foods. CVS Pharmacy basically sell everything you need and everything you will never need.

CVS, The Alameda, San Jose

The first day in San Jose we were a bit tired so after walking around the area we went to the above mentioned CVS and bought snacks, mostly traditional stuff we recognized from Sweden and China but we also tried some American things like “Breadsticks ‘n Cheese Dip”.

Back in the hotel we ate snacks and slept for a while to prepare for tonight’s big event, the game between San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers.

Still day 2, San Jose Sharks vs. Edmonton Oilers

After sleeping for a while we got up and ready to go to the SAP Center to watch my first live NHL game. We bought the tickets using the StubHub app. Before we could go to the arena I had to print the PDF file with the tickets so I went downstairs to the reception and the kind people working in the hotel helped me print right away. StubHub is by the way really how you should buy tickets for events in the US, extremely good price and very convenient.

With the tickets printed we went out the door from the hotel and waked down the Alameda street towards the SAP Center ready to watch hockey. The security check going in to the arena was massive but as always in the US the people working there were very nice and helpful so the process going through the gates was very quick. We found our seats pretty quick and sat down and just enjoyed the moment, the San Jose home fans are really loud and loyal to their team! One part I appreciated a lot is the fact that entire families go to the game together, children and parents together wearing the home team’s jersey and cheering as loud as they can for their team. At hockey games in Sweden the adults are usually more reserved, I like the American mindset, relaxed and happy and enjoy what you are doing!

I shot this video of the national anthems using my cellphone. The sound and picture quality is actually quite ok. And as you can see we had good seats, a nice overview of the entire ice. The game was as great as a hockey game can be, lots of goals and even some fights. After the game was finished we walked back to the hotel and finished our snacks and talked about the game before we went to sleep.

Day 3, San Jose, Palo Alto, Stanford

We started the third day by walking to a Subway not so far away from the hotel. I really enjoyed walking in the neighborhood around the hotel, very peaceful and calm. Like I wrote earlier I felt like the neighborhood was like a small town but in a big city. Very nice!

Starbucks and Subway, The Alameda, San Jose Small houses, San Jose Bank of America, The Alameda, San Jose

In Shanghai most people live in apartment buildings but there are obviously neighborhoods with separate villas as well. In my home town in Sweden almost everyone live in separate houses. I know in San Jose there are many apartment buildings in the more central areas but near our hotel there were some very nice neighborhoods with separate houses like you can see in the second photo from the left. The houses were usually very small but very cute and had some unique features, like this one have that tower.

After breakfast we ordered an Uber and went to the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Palo Alto.

We arrived at the Facebook headquarters after a 40 minute Uber ride from downtown San Jose. Very quick. Since we made this trip during Christmas / New Years there were not so many people in the Facebook office area but still we were able to go there and check it out. As the self-proclaimed web geek I am, I enjoyed immensely to check in to Facebook on Facebook and post a photo of Facebook on Facebook.

Facebook check in

After Facebook we went to Stanford University campus.  Walking around the campus I wish I was younger and had the chance to study at this university as it seems to be a very nice and professional school. Since I can not go back in time I had to settle with buying a Stanford University hoodie and pretend like I am a Stanford alumni.

Stanford University

We met a nice couple from China at the campus who drove us to a restaurant area nearby where we sat down and had lunch and planned what to do next. After finishing the very sour indian lunch we decided to go to the Westgate Center Outlets.

Westgate Center, San Jose

I am not so interested in shopping but the people travelling with me love it so I of course had to follow and let them get their shopping fix. I bought one gray Nike hoodie, one pair of underwear and one cappuccino at the outlet. Suddenly day became night and we went back to the hotel to sleep.

Day 4 and 5, San Jose

It is very easy for me to remember day four and five of the trip. 40 degrees fever, nauseous, feeling sweaty and cold. Laying in bed all day and night thinking I will die.

Day 6, recovered, leaving San Jose with Amtrak

After spending two days in bed I was feeling stronger and ready to get back to exploring California. After breakfast in Hannah’s Coffee opposite the hotel we went to the train station to catch the Amtrak to Los Angeles. Our original plan was to use, as always, Uber. We placed our order in the Uber app and almost right away one driver pick our order. 10 minutes later he arrive and 20 minutes later we are buying tickets for Amtrak since the driver declined to drive us since he would be back in San Jose too late to pick up his child in kindergarten.

It took us some time to understand how to buy the train tickets but thanks to the very nice volunteers at the station we got a lesson in the history of Amtrak as well as our tickets.

So boarding the train, settling in, unpacking the snacks. On the train we met several nice people and had a nice talk with all of them during the entire trip.

The Amtrak experience was quite different from taking the train in Sweden or China. The entire trip felt more professional and organized than the train ever been in Sweden. I don’t quite remember which route we took but the train passed by Oakland, Berkeley and we had to change train in Sacramento. Anyway, it was a nice experience and I hope soon I will be able to take the Amtrak again. I can understand why vice president Joe Biden always chose Amtrak ahead of airplanes.

Around 6 hours later after a long delay in Bakersfield due to someone trying to kill themselves by jumping infront of the train we finally arrived at Union Station in Los Angeles. The last part to LA we had to go by bus, sorry I do not remember at what station we got off the train and got on the bus…

Anyway, in Los Angeles now we used our favorite Uber again and ordered a car to take us to the hotel as it was already late evening.

Day 7, first day in Los Angeles

Excited and ready to explore the city of Angeles we got up early and went to the Hollywood walk of fame. I was very happy to be in Los Angeles and able to see all these things I have seen on the television growing up in Sweden, a country who admire United States and the American lifestyle very much. Still I am Swedish so I searched for the stars on the ground with some Swedish connection.


After checking out the stars on the sidewalk we went to have an late breakfast / lunch at Johnny Rockets. We wanted to try some traditional US food so we ordered a bacon cheese burger and a Philadelphia Cheese Steak.

Without giving any detailed review about the food.. Lets just say this way, we didn’t need much dinner later that day.

Day 8, Santa Monica beach

After having breakfast in Starbucks we ordered an Uber that took us to Santa Monica. As the TV-buff I am I was very excited to see the famous Santa Monica beach and all the places recognizable from the tv-drama Baywatch! 🙂

It was really very nice to go to Santa Monica and leave the busy big city feeling of central Los Angeles. It was really very warm at the beach and we spent the entire morning there and around 2PM we left to walk the pedestrian streets of central Santa Monica and have lunch.

One really nice thing in Santa Monica are the volunteers walking the streets helping lost tourists like us finding the way. I do not remember the name of the man who we talked to but we got some great help from him finding good food and interesting shops in Santa Monica.

After one day in Santa Monica we decided to go back to the hotel in central Los Angeles and relax for a while in the evening and prepare for tomorrow’s trip back to San Diego.

Day 9, going back to San Diego

Waking up after a good night’s sleep to enjoy our last breakfast at the hotel in Los Angeles we decided to make it a bit special and went to the nearest Wholefoods and bought breakfast in the coffee shop / restaurant there.

I like the Wholefoods stores. We went to one in San Jose and also this one in Los Angeles. It was a bit expensive but they sure do have a lot of nice stuff.

Before leaving Los Angeles we decided to go to the Citadel Outlets and spend a few hours and dollars there. As I mentioned before I do not like shopping but I do like coffee, so I spent most of the time enjoying the air-condition and cappuccino in Starbucks. The Citadel Outlets is huge, take a look at this map to get an idea of the size.

6PM after one long day at the outlet area we got into the Uber car and started driving back to San Diego. Around 9PM we arrived at Residence Inn San Diego Rancho Bernardo where we were going to stay for the night. Exhausted after one day at the outlets we went straight to bed.

Day 10, back in San Diego

Our last day in the US for this time so we got up early to take the chance to explore as much things as possible before heading to the airport to fly back to Shanghai.

First stop was the USS Midway Museum. We didn’t go inside because the tickets were quite expensive and it felt like it was enough to just look at this huge ship from the outside.

After looking at this ship for a while we bought ice cream and continued walking along the water line towards the Seaport Village.

….still writing this post….will finish …. one day..

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