My wife finished up her AMP conference last night and I finished my quest for juicy wifi and exploring the lower part of the valley. After walking, taking buses, hopping on TSA trams, and the Caltrain, I can confidently state I'm no longer terrified of navigating buses and trains in new cities. As a public transport noob, I'm proud to admit I only hopped on one bus going to the wrong destination ;).
San Jose was an interesting sprawl of a city. My main takeaway is that the city, like many others, is a stark contrast between areas of high wealth with struggling neighborhoods. I couldn't escape the sense that the middle class is eroding into a few wealthy business and tech folks, and many more that are working long shifts just to cover rent.
The shopping mall, just about the only part of Stanford I visited, was much like our local shopping fair. The Apple store was much cozier than the one in Valley Fields San Jose, or the one near my home in Smithhaven Mall, and as usual on the weekends it was jam packed with shoppers. The on again off again down pours and drizzle nixed my walkabout plans to explore the campus. I enjoyed a brief respite from the weather in Caffe del Dogge, which inspired the rumblings of a collaborative web app (TBD).
I only got the briefest taste of Mountain View. It was the end of the line for the TSA tram from San Jose. Rain prevented me from walking around the area, and my hunch is that Mountain View is best navigated with a car.
Speaking of cars, when dropping off rentals to SFO coming from the south eastern part of the valley, you'll want to take the 101 exit to San Bruno avenue to avoid an Escheresque airport route. I much prefer walking and public transportation when traveling, which is no doubt the fault of this fine film.