18-Mar-2016: We woke early today. Many of the houses here are old with wooden structure and so they make lot of noise even when some one walks toe tipped on the floor 🙂 We were woken by such a screeching sounds. Today we were on our own for most of the day as the other guys were going to office. They made oats upma for breakfast and then left for the office. We also got ready and left the house at 10:00 am. We were planning to see some silicon valley companies and go for SFO sightseeing. So first we went to Facebook headquarters. We thought they would have visitors area, but were told that only the traffic island with the big like sign is accessible for visitors. So we liked the real Like sign ! and moved on.
Our next stop was San Francisco city. The route is you take I-280 up north and then head towards I-101, which eventually crosses the bay through the iconic Golden gate bridge. The weather was nice and clear though bit cold. We faced some traffic on I-280. To get onto I-101 we took the wrong exit and had to do lot of roundabout in one area. Somehow we got on the right track. On the way, you cruise along the San Francisco bay with nice views. As we entered the city limits the road narrowed and there was some traffic. In some time there it was in front of us the Golden Gate bridge. Now, I have been here, but not when I was behind the wheels. So it was a nice and memorable experience to drive on this iconic structure. This area is always windy and air chilly. On the other side of the bridge is the Golden Gate Park, with a vista point. We parked there and had a good look of the GG with the sun sparkled golden water in the background.
We were still deliberating on the best way to see SFO city. I was not much enthused to go into the city and park there as I knew from earlier experience the roads and traffic of the city. Not only many of the roads are narrow, but as the city is situated on a hill, its a roller coaster ride :). Some of the roads have gradient of 70º. Right then we spotted a tourist bus which was parked on the vista point. We could not see any sales counter for it on the pavement, but decided to check with the bus driver, if there are any city tours which we can catch from where we were. He said no tours start from here and he is in the middle of his tour, but if you guys want, you can hop on my bus and I will charge you less. After some bargaining, we agreed upon a price and we hopped on our lucky break.
The bus was open air double decker bus and we were lucky to find a place on the top deck. The bus went through the hill loop and tunnel on its way to cross over the Golden gate. The air was very chilly and we were rethinking our decision to sit on the top deck :). The Golden Gate bridge, the harbor and the experience of crossing it is surreal. We were now in the city and the bus guide was showing us some important landmarks like the Alcatraz island (yeah, The Rock movie one !) etc. Then the bus was back at its starting point which is at the fisherman’s wharf. The driver asked us to un-board and be back in an 1 hour when he would be back from his next tour, so that he can show us the remaining spots and drop us back to vista point. We pushed our luck and asked about his last tour which we can take, allowing us more time to explore the city. He reluctantly agreed, to pick us on his last tour, but instructed us to only board his bus.
Now there are many places to explore, but we didn’t had much time as we had some other things lined up back at our place. One thing we did not wanted to miss was the cable train ride. This is an iconic ride which one has to do. I had done this before and G and Ar were also excited to go for it. So we first inquired about it and learnt that there was some time for next ride, so we decided to have some lunch. Unfortunately we could not find any good veg options around, so ended up having some stuff we had carried with us.
Then we decided to head towards the starting station of the cable train, which was couple of blocks away. We got the tickets, but there was a long queue to board it and we were worried we may miss this as we had a hard stop at 3:00 pm, when we had to board our last bus back to our parking spot. This cable train is mechanical and runs completely on leavers. The junction is also quite unique, in which the arriving car has to be manually reversed for the next journey. Finally our wait was over and luckily we got into it, but we had to stand, which was sad as we did not get a clear view. But the ride was fun nevertheless, the train shares the track with road traffic and due to its mechanical levers and the SFO roads which have huge slops and sharp turns its like a roller coaster ride. We got off before our stop as we were not sure if we would be back in time and went to the other side to catch the return train. Few trains passed us but they were all full and they didn’t stop. We had to take a cab back to our bus stop as it was getting very late. So we could not enjoy the cable train completely.
So we were back in time to catch the bus back to parking. We saw few places en-route and after crossing the Golden gate bridge were back to vista point. Thanks to this tour driver we could explore the city a bit and we were back on our way to I-101 again crossing the bridge, which Ar had started liking and even remembers it now also. The traffic was building up and by the time we hit I-280, the Friday silicon valley traffic made our progress really slow. We reached Sunnyvale around 5:00 pm and were quite hungry, so we decided to have some pizza. We were thinking of Pizza Hut or Dominoes, but couldn’t find any in the locality and so had to settle for some local pizza chain. We ordered a veg pizza and some sides and the food was average at the best. Just then we got the call that our friends have arrived back home and so headed there. After having tea and freshening up we were on the move again.
Tai and Yash had come early. After they refreshed we went for the drive. We went over San Hose downtown which was nice. We then went to Santana Row, which is one of the upmarket areas there. We parked and had a stroll in the area. The area has a nice vibe to it and we soaked it in. We went to Tesla showroom and had a look into their latest models and even sat in one, which was my first time. What a car , what an engineering! There are many community activity areas there and one of them has a big chess board and has kind of life size pieces. Ar went straight for the king ;).
Then we drove back to Sunnyvale and had dinner at a south Indian place. The place had nice ambiance and we had dosa and idli vada which was quite nice. We spent time chatting as we were meeting after a long time. It was almost 9:30 pm and were quite tired. After reaching home we retired to bed immediately.