So it’s been an amazing 11 days in NorCal staying with my aunt, uncle, Charchie and cousins in Los Gatos in Silicon Valley. I’ve explored a lot in the time I’ve been here, but of course there’s always more to see and more to do!
I’m not quite sure what I expected from my first trip to the states, but it wasn’t really that. I arrived on a sunny day and immediately felt like the flora, weather and architecture was reminiscent of Southern Spain. Los Gatos is a colourful, clean and beautiful town with a healthy, rich vibe. Certainly a lovely place to live complete with good schools and easy access to the beach, Santa Cruz, San Francisco and massive outlet stores.
I was given the tour of Silicon Valley and saw the HeadQuarters of Facebook, Google, Apple, Roku/Netflix, and shown where the owners of Snapchat and Whatsapp live, as they’re in the same neighbourhood as my family. Tech capital of the world indeed. The money in Los Gatos is evident in absolutely everything. The streets are pristine, each house is a work of art with architectural styles from all over the world, the flowers are colourful and healthy, the cars were all top of the range, and it’s a safe place to live. My aunt and uncle had neighbours popping round exchanging figs and limes that grew in their gardens, there was someone jogging past the window every time you glanced out onto the streets, wild rabbits played easily in the gardens and the sun shined every day.
Gentrification is a big problem around San Francisco and San Jose. Because it is the Tech capital of the world, big earners are flooding into the neighbourhoods outbidding all the poorer communities which had given SF and SJ its soulful personality back when the city was building up. The house prices are extortionate which reflect the local economy.
Never the less it was fascinating seeing the HQ’s of these world-dominating tech companies. Also, we visited Stanford University which was incredible. No.2 university in the whole world, and one of the most beautiful. Palm trees line the roads approaching the uni; each building has its own character however the whole complex fits together so well, and is very well maintained.
San Francisco is super edgy, artsy, liberal, run down, chic, open-minded, multicultural, beautiful, interesting, and above all, just cool. The architecture is stunning. Each house screams out the personality of its owner and you’ll often see liberal political opinions written on the walls, signposted in windows and represented by colourful graffiti. You get houses in every different colour and style, from Victorian, to European, to Indian, to classic american, to Arabic… name a prominent culture and you can find houses that look like they belong there in San Francisco. It certainly is not a bike friendly place, the hills are absolutely insane and sometimes even a bit scary to drive down. Shout out to my amazing tour guides Sierra and Grace who gave me an insight into the culture I never would have got on my own. And shout out to Sierra for being such a patient photographer. I managed to time my visit concurrently with the hottest day in San Francisco on record, ever. 40 degree heat is just not fun to walk around in.
Me and Sierra also explored surfer town Santa Cruz with its edgy undercurrent full of thrift shops and run-down book stores. The boardwalk is like a mini theme park contained on a small beach, and there’s a long pier with restaurants and fish markets. The sea is littered with surfers in long wetsuits due to the icy cold pacific sea, and there’s a fog that hangs in the air most days.
All in all it was a great 2 weeks and I thoroughly enjoyed staying with my aunt and uncle. They made me feel so so welcome and I will definitely go back there on my way home. California has been added to my ‘could live there’ list.
Onwards to South America!