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Silicon Valley Visit

One TV program Andrea and I had been watching a lot in Spain is HBO’s hilarious sitcom called Silicon Valley. I know the region fairly well, being an alumnus of Stanford University where I studied at for four years and having worked in the region for 10 (including a couple during college). Hence, I was excited to show Andrea the area that was formative for my professional engineering career.

This visit focused on the peninsular region of Silicon Valley. The previous week, we had driven through a little bit of San Jose and Fremont.

Apple Visitor Center

The first place we went to was the Apple Visitor Center in Cupertino. It was my first time there too as it was constructed in the last decade. It’s located within viewing distance of the Apple headquarters dubbed the Spaceship, which was conceived during Steve Jobs’ final years. Andrea owns several Apple products so she was excited when she learned that I would be taking her there.

Trees outside the Apple Visitor Center in Cupertino.

My good friend Adam from Stanford lives only a few miles away from it, so I asked if he could meet us. Adam is such an Apple enthusiast that back in the day he was the president of a club for users of the Apple Newton, the tablet that was the predecessor of the personal data assistant (PDA), iPod, iPhone and iPad. He and his wife Rae stopped by for a quick visit and it was great to see them for the first time in several years.

Felix, Rae, Adam and Andrea on the rooftop of the Apple Visitor Center. Adam and Rae live closeby and stopped by to say hello.

At the store, a helpful employee named Randy told us about a special display that Hermes had fabricated for Apple, to be shown for only a year or so.

Felix Wong by the Hermes Apple Watch display that will only be inside the Apple Visitor Center for a year.

He also explained how we could go up to the rooftop terrace and recommended that we take the stairways (instead of the elevator) since it was constructed out of a single piece of granite and something to marvel at.

The stairway inside the Apple Visitor Center was carved out of one giant piece of granite.

The rooftop is where the Apple headquarters is visible. Some people who had written Google Reviews of the Apple Visitor Center had lamented that “the spaceship is far away and hardly visible through the trees,” but I found that to be only partly true. You can judge for yourself from this photo.

Andrea on the rooftop of the Apple Visitor Center, with arm pointing towards the Apple "Spaceship" headquarters.

Aside from catching up with Adam and Rae, we played with iPad Pros for a short while. Despite being a Microsoft fanboy and Google Pixel user, I think the iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard is a very intriguing device. The hardware is top notch and the software is very slick.

“Maybe one day I’ll migrate over to the Apple ecosystem,” I confessed to Adam, “since Andrea already uses so many Apple products. (In addition, my parents frequently ask me for help with their iPhones, so I need to become more familiar with iOS.)

Adam then turned to Andrea and exclaimed, “I’ve been trying to get him to move over to Apple for years!” It remains to be seen if I ever purchase a product from this iconic Silicon Valley company, which would be the first time since owning a self-destructing iBook G3 15 years ago.

Stanford University

Next stop was Stanford. We met up with my buddy Loren outside of Tressider Student Union and walked around for nearly an hour.

My friend Loren from Stanford and Andrea.

Not only was it nostalgic due to walking by buildings I had either studied or lived in, but because the last time I was here I was visiting a dear friend in the hospital who would pass away less than a week later. That was just over two years ago. May Stacey be resting in peace.

Palo Alto and the HP Garage

Afterward, we went over to downtown Palo Alto to look for a European-to-US electrical plug adapter for Andrea. We found one at Ace Hardware. Mere blocks away was the original HP Garage, which is now dubbed “the birthplace of Silicon Valley.”

The original HP Garage, also known as "the birthplace of Silicon Valley."

If we had more time, I would have loved to show Andrea where Google, Yahoo, and Facebook was. The former two companies were founded by Stanford Ph.D.’s while I was at the university, and Facebook (now Meta) is used everywhere around the world except for most of China, where it is banned.

Which reminds me, in addition to watching more episodes of Silicon Valley, Andrea and I should watch The Social Network!

Andrea trying out some iPad Pros with Magic Keyboard.
Artwork of an iMac, Apple mouse, iPod, original iMac, iPhone, and Apple Watch on the wall of the Apple Visitor Center in Cupertino.
Andrea at the Quad at Stanford University.
Memorial Church at Stanford University.
Grass outside the Quad at Stanford University, with the Hoover Tower and a giant palm tree behind.
The view towards Memorial Church through the Quad at Stanford University.
The engineering buildings at Stanford University, including where I had a Design & Manufacturing class.
The Peninsula Creamery Dairy Store in Palo Alto. We did not go there, but walked by there to buy an adapter plug at nearby Ace Hardware.