There is a visitors centre,...
There is a visitors centre, with quite a few exhibits and information on NASA and their research. There is also a tour available which takes about 2 hours of the actual research centre, but this has to be booked in advance and therefore we did not go on this. This photo again of my husband and son is with Nasa research aircraft.
Great Cuban Restaurant
I have only eaten at La Bodeguita del Medio once but it was one of the best meals I ever had. Starting with the appetizer of yuca and plantain chips with black bean salsa through the dessert of Havana bananas (caramelized sweet bananas, walnuts, cinnamon, and vanilla ice cream), everything was delicious and well presented. If you are into that sort of thing, there is a cigar room in the back; I'll pass on that though. You will need to make reservations. Even though it is expensive, it is a very popular place. The fish special with marinated yuca and brussel sprouts with horseradish was wonderful, but the Plato de Vegetales with black bean cakes, malanga mash, maduros, grilled vegetables, red pepper sofrito, and black bean muneta was great too.
Get your sushi... Fast!
For a quick bite before headed to the airport, we stopped in at the Sushi House for lunch. It was almost fast food, but then again its not like you have to wait for the sushi to cook!
I had the combo platter, it was 15 dollars, and was very good. There were smaller platters for about 7 dollars... but you can never get enough sushi!
Not the best I have ever had, but it was very fast!
Water Tower Park
What to do with a 100 year old concrete water tower that is a foot thick concrete and might cost the city tens of thousands of dollars to remove?
This water tower and nearby well in Palo Alto were built in 1910 to provide drinking water and fire protection to the city. In 1992 and again in 1996 the city asked local residents for suggestions for the water tower which included ideas such as a home, apartments, an art gallery, or an office building. Finally the city took these facilities and decided to designate them as a small park. The original water tower still stands and an antique water pump made by the Crane Corporation has been installed. Add some interpretive signs, benches, and a variety of flowering plants and you have a cozy little area to walk your dog or have lunch.
Palo Alto, California, USA
"About Palo Alto"
I have lived in Palo Alto for about 3 years now. How to characterize it? Palo Alto is a hub for technological innovation and home to Hewlett-Packard and nearby Stanford University. The population is mostly quite wealthy, tends to be workaholics and creative thinkers. (But more the type of creative that wears khaki pants than the type of creative that wears body piercings!)
Just sitting at a coffee shop and listening to the people around you, you are likely to overhear conversations of people who are in biotechnology, or who are researchers or inventors, product designers, computer programmers, etc.
The population is both wealthy and politically liberal. I would say in general people are probably more socially liberal and financially conservative. A really high percentage of people here voted compared to the national average, and more than 60% of those voted for John Kerry this last time around. There are some beautiful homes here and many streets lined with huge trees. The downtown area at night is full of people out walking around or going to restaurants. People here who can afford it tend to spend a lot of money on nice cars, electronics, fashionable clothes, eating out, manicures, facials, etc. It is a very different atmosphere than San Francisco, much less bohemian and much more small town. People make eye contact on the streets and they drive politely for the most part. There is very little crime, and it is a very peaceful, comfortable place to live.
Radiohead wrote a song called Palo Alto. Here are some of the lyrics: "in a city of the future / it is difficult to concentrate / meet the boss, meet the wife / everybody's happy / ... / i'm too busy to see you / you're too busy to wait / but I'm ok, how are you? / thanks for asking, thanks for asking."
The Donnas are from Palo Alto and played together since high school. Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead used to hang out and play in coffee shops here in the 1960s.
Palo Alto has a large population of squirrels, including many black squirrels. Black squirrels are found in very few places in the United States. I have never seen a black squirrel in nearby Redwood City or Mountain View. For some reason they just like Palo Alto!
"Best things to do and places to go"
Favorite restaurants: La Morenita (homey Mexican food, good rellenos), Siam Royal (Thai, good food & cheap lunch specials), The Mint Leaf (Thai and Vietnamese), Sushi Ya (very small sushi place, nice staff), St. Michael's Alley (upscale neighborhood restaurant near downtown), Peet's coffee
Spa: Watercourse Way, very elegant Asian-inspired decor, private hot tubs;
Yoga: The Yoga Center of Palo Alto (on Cowper Street).
Walking: Stevens Creek Trail (which is actually about 5 miles away in Mountain View, but a quick trip down the highway). This is a lovely creekside trail through the middle of an urban area, but you will see ducks, a burbling creek, and sometimes big fuzzy caterpillars. It is mostly flat, and 4 miles from one end to the other (not a loop). Also try "The Dish" a hilly 4-mile loop trail, also paved, in the grassy hills above Stanford. No bikes or rollerblades allowed.