Day Travels: San Jose

I don’t travel much these days. But when I do, I make the most of it, even if it’s just an hour away from home. Well fortunately, the way I get to San Jose is the long way around, via through the metro tunnels of San Francisco and onto a slow and easy Southbound ride aboard Caltrain. The journey itself is the right time away I need, it only adds to the glories of getaway.

As the train departs from the San Francisco station, just a block away from SF Giants’ AT&T Ballpark

Caltrain is first of all, the way I wish ALL of the Bay Area would use to get around. Having rode BART my whole life in and out of the East Bay, I’ve only come to discover BART is faster– and less concerned about the comfort and cleanliness of the experience. In stunning contrast, Caltrain is more unique and relaxing, like actual train traveling but in the same distance of travel for commuter purposes. The best parts of Caltrain are being able to eat/drink on it and single seat, mezzanine seating on the upper level. Yes. Some quick notes I wrote down being upon Caltrain:

1. Add butter peppermints into our chai latte. It’s SUPER.

2. Especially on night trains, or any public transit form, no one judges you after 6PM.

3. The Peninsula has the best all-around quintessential downtown areas.


Caltrain has introduced me to cities I never would have known about. And for one, the Caltrain culture of each city’s train stations ensures that the slow mode of Caltrain warrants laziness– go to the café next door to the ticket machines, sit down and have a coffee or chat with friends as you wait for the train. Time stands still on the peninsula, it’s definitely unlike the fast-developing East Bay.

Coffee house of choice: Crema in Santa Clara is exceptionally spacious and eclectic, obviously converted from an old house into a low-ceiling and rich menu of gelato and coffee beverages.

Is it weird to think in some ways San Jose is like Southern California? I guess because of how spread out the whole place seems– on top of how many cities are clustered together and interchangeable with each other. No matter Mountain View, Saratoga, or Almaden, it’s all San Jose to everyone here. It’s almost like San Jose has much to offer, because each city contributes something.

Inside look at the soft colors and lovely details of the chapel altar at the Mission Santa Clara de Asis, right at the center of Santa Clara Univeristy, where my friend Giuliana is a first year law student.
Inside look at the soft colors and lovely details of the chapel altar at the Mission Santa Clara de Asis, right at the center of Santa Clara Univeristy, where my friend Giuliana is a first year law student.

San Jose was almost like my childhood. My dad had an exceptional sports memorabilia store in Eastridge Mall and when I wasn’t in school I was there in the backrooms of the store playing in the old dressing rooms that were former shells of the previous store, or watching Totoro on the big screen in the back. I got to wander around the mall with my mom and watched SuperBowl Sundays there in the middle of the artificial baseball diamond my parents set up for live in-house batting– and SJPD officers, who became good friends with my dad, would swing by and bring food and watch the games in their uniforms on their shifts. I remember San Jose back then as shopping malls, lots of Asian communities, and thinking the freeways there that intersected were the end of the roads in California.

Lift helps when getting around for late nights out. And did I mention some drivers will give you lollipops??

I’m now making new memories from this place, finding my own way around a new environment, getting excited about a place so close and so glamorized as the heart of Techlandia that I know nothing about. And I’m finding out the things that make San Jose exciting to me. In the way that the South Bay is so sprawled and up and coming, you can really feel it out here, just the abundance of activities and places to see. I am pinpointing these places with my friends from college who are from here or now reside here for law school and work. Some places to note are the many mini golf courses, Raging Waters with their epic pod slide that drops the floor below you, Santana Row, and Pinkberry, EVERYWHERE. How green it is down here is also breathtaking. The hills out in the Almaden region are more luscious and jagged than those here at home, taller too. I always see them from the fields where Matt, my boyfriend, constantly runs his soccer teams’ practice sessions. These hills seem to be everywhere, and I’m always happy to find them waiting whenever I join Matt on the field to sit in and watch.

Santana Row's Pinkberry.
Santana Row’s Pinkberry.

All I can really say about my days away in the South Bay is that traveling is best whenever you can. Stepping out of your shell does the best writing, and even if it’s somewhere you can get to in forty minutes.  San Jose happens to be a great spot, adding onto why I love California and showing that in the Bay Area it’s not all about the skyscrapers and monuments and crazy nightlife of San Francisco. Get out and get writing; you shouldn’t wait for those stories to come to you when you take that two-weeks vacation abroad. It’ll hit you when you get moving, because traveling is where the writer and story meet right in the middle. I may not get out much now, but I definitely won’t let time pass for that right inspiration, especially in new places.

downtown San Jose is less dense but has a great nightlife feel
Downtown San Jose is less dense but has a great nightlife feel. La Vic is great for Mexican food after midnight with a killer secret sauce.

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