August 21, 2016

Santa Cruz has a piece of my heart

Santa Cruz - a city to fall in love with

In May 2016 I was in California for Google I/O , a huge developer conference, where Google presents the latest and the greatest - a conference that started in Mountain View, went to San Francisco only to return to Mountain View again this year. 

I loved it, very inspiring - as you may have gathered from previous posts where I mention talks from I/O. However it was just not attending one of the biggest tech conferences in the world seeing and touching new technology, talk about new ways of getting work done - Firebase functionality for example, and updates to Material Design. However it wasn't just the conference and all the interesting people there that made the trip special, it was also fantastic to be back in California, with the amazing nature - and I also get to catch up with some friends, win-win really!

I learnt a lot from this trip - like I do at every conference, also from the people I meet, not just from the talks and presentations. I also learnt other things. I learnt more about the public transportation and trains in California, and the shuttles (makes me very happy to live in Europe, by the way, we really are lucky with our public transportation here) - and I did transport myself around sans car, without car the whole time I was in California. It is kind of a sport to see if it is doable, and in this case: I really didn't want to be stuck in traffic or try and find parking, and Google had arranged shuttles from the train station as well as from various hotels, so there was no need, at least not during the conference. 
I did however also decide to go for an adventure during the weekend - to visit a spot I had been missing for a while, a spot that made coming back to California so great.

Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz California.

And to my excitement I found out that there is a bus from San Jose to Santa Cruz, Highway 17 Express. Turned out to be an excellent alternative, allowing you to look at your surroundings while travelling, or take a nap (did that on the way back... All the fresh air made me sleepy...)

I don't know what it is but this little hippie town south of San Francisco, away from Silicon Valley, along the coast, on the edge of Monterey Bay - there is something about it.

The first time I came here I came as a tourist with other tourists and I saw the beach and the overcrowded boardwalk. The pier was beautiful and of course there was the sea, I have always loved the sea, however Santa Cruz didn't really leave a mark.

The second time I stopped in the actual city for lunch, and I was sold.  It's a charming, unique and quite relaxed little town, full of fascinating people and with a very nice and relaxed atmosphere. 

The best time to come to Santa Cruz is when it's not high season - but keep in mind that is said by someone who has always preferred to travel when most people don't, someone who tries to avoid high season whenever she can - you may well find that it's different for you.  

This time I spent a considerable amount of time on the pier, chatting to locals - the way I often do. It's amazing how much you can learn when you just take the time to listen to people, and what stories they can tell you!  Santa Cruz also has a fantastic ocean centre, "Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary", close to  the pier, a centre that has been open for a few years, a centre where you can learn more about the sea, the challenges we face relating to the environment and climate change, and what we can do to help nature. What's also really interesting is that the whole building is designed to be as sustainable as possible. I really enjoyed the time spent at the sanctuary, and furthermore, it is free of charge - so it is another of those Win Win situations; You can go inside, learn, leave and then come back again, to learn more! 

There is so much more to say about Santa Cruz, however I am happy if you made it this far - and I may come back with another post some other time. I certainly have enough experiences to talk about and enough photos to show... 


Santa Cruz official website
Santa Cruz tourist website

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