We bummed around with Lev and Julie for a few days and took a well-needed break. Julie had some time off, so was able to show us around the area whilst Lev was hard at work at Box.com. First stop on the tour was Stanford, home of the renowned university. As can be expected from a place filled with geniuses, a walk around the grounds wouldn't be complete without an excess of Rodin statues.
Whilst we merged seamlessly in with the Three Shades, elsewhere you can encounter The Thinker and The Gates of Hell, the latter probably being my favourite bronze.
If there's one thing we came to love about California, other than our wonderful hosts and the fantastic surroundings, it was the weather. Bright, hot sunshine greeted us almost every day and our time in Stanford was no exception. It also gave us great views across the area from the university tower.
Lunch was calling, so we stopped into Palo Alto and Gilly grabbed some food at the Crepevine whilst I hit up The Prolific Oven.
Since Lev was the only one actually doing any work, we decided to go and visit him at Box. Palo Alto, being the hub of Silicon Valley's tech corporations, hosts everything from HP to VMWare. Like most of these companies, much emphasis is placed on employee satisfaction. It's one of the key differences between the UK and US business ethoses - in the US they want people to treat workplaces as a second home, engage with their colleagues, and enjoy working so much that they willingly stay late, go on excursions together, and generally drink the company Kool-Aid (as the saying goes). Box is no exception.
Entering the building, you're greeted by unicorns and scooters. The former is the company mascot. The latter is what you use to get around the place. It's HUGE. They provide racks and racks of food, refrigerated and otherwise, for free. They have arcade machines, ping pong and pool tables, games consoles and swings. And if that isn't enough, they have a fricking slide connecting the floors. Yes, if the lift isn't that exciting enough for you, why not hurl yourself down a bright green tube to the ground floor instead?
Amazing. Oh, and if you know you're going to work late, you can order in a full evening meal, professionally cooked, and delivered to your desk. Because, why not?
All the food was making us hungry so when Lev clocked off work the four of us ended the evening at a swanky Indian restaurant named Shiva's, which was lovely.
The next day we headed over to Trader Joe's, which is now Gilly's favourite food store (and typically, one we don't have in the UK), to pick up some ingredients. We'd cooked and baked for a few people on our travels as a thank you for putting us up, so Gilly couldn't resist the opportunity to whip up some muffins. It was nice to just sit by the pool and do very little - we had plenty planned for the next day, including a visit to Alcatraz.