Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Conference R&R: Exploring San Jose
Falafel's Drive-in, Photo from Gena S. from Yelp.com
This will just be my second visit to San Jose. Last time was for CLEO 2007 and I pretty much didn't leave the downtown area (just ping-ponged back-and-forth from the convention center to my hotel). For this visit, I'm interested in taking some time to explore what the city has to offer when there is some conference down-time. My hope is that any blog followers with more experience in Northern California, or who are native to the area, will help point us tourists in the right direction. So please comment!
My first assumption is that most of us will not have a car. So my recommendations from surface web-browsing of area attractions and restaurants will be contingent upon reasonable trip-time using public transportation or walking.
The Winchester Mystery House and Restaurants along the way:
Is it a freak of architecture, a wonder, or just plain bizarre? The last time I went to San Jose, a colleague recommended that I visit The Winchester Mansion . I never did, but will be going this time. One legend has it that after the premature deaths of both her daughter and husband, Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune, sought advice from a medium in Boston, MA. The medium told her that her misfortunes were due to the spirits of American Indians, Civil War soldiers and others killed by Winchester rifles. To appease the spirits she was to move West and build a home for them and never cease construction. The mansion, whose rooms were continually added and remodeled until Sarah's death is a labyrinth of winding corridors, stairs that descend and then ascend before they reach their destination, doors that open to blank walls, and other oddities. A tour of the mansion costs $28. From the convention center take Bus 23 to the Winchester Shopping Center from which you can walk the rest of the way. Travel time is about 45 minutes.
Some searching on tripadvisor highlighted some restaurants along or near Bus Route 23. The most popular on tripadvisor was Falafel's Drive-in at 2301 Steven's Creek Blvd, which offers African, Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern cuisine. And hamburgers of course! Take Bus 23 to San Carlos and Topeka and then walk west rest of the way- San Carlos Blvd. becomes Steven's Creek Blvd. Total travel-time 24 minutes. Another restaurant in this area slated for good Indian cuisine is Amber India in Santana Row. This time, take Bus 23 from the convention center to Valley Fair Shopping Center, then walk south the rest of the way to Santana Row Shopping Center. Total trip-time 40 minutes. Another recommended restaurant in Santana Row is Thea, which serves Turkish and Greek food.
Other Recommended Restaurants:
If you want to see belly dancing while enjoying Moroccan cuisine, take the light rail north to the Gish stop. The Moroccan Restaurant Menara is located at 41 E. Gish. Travel-time is a short 11 minutes.
La Victoria, immediately next to the convention center on San Carlos, was ranked third on tripadvisor. The cuisine is Californian/Mexican. In the comments, many customers raved about the orange sauce which they sell in bottles if you want to take some home.
Green Space and Exercising:
Though I don't run as often as I should, this is one of the ways I try to stay in shape. It is also a nice way to explore a city. Unfortunately, San Jose seems to be a lot of highway and concrete, but it looks like are at least a couple of parks fairly easy to get to from the convention center. What looked most promising to me was to take the light rail to the Penitencia Creek stop and then follow Penitencia Creek Rd northeast toward Alum Rock Park. It is just 2.5 miles along Penitencia Creek Rd to the base of the Park. Along the way you can leave the road and run through Penitencia Creek County Park which connects to Penitencia Creek Trail. If you are a runner you may already know about mapmyrun.com, which gives you suggested routes and mileage from local runners. Just make sure you give your Falafel plenty of time to digest before running up Alum Rock.
Posted by Jim at 8:11 PM