I’ve returned from a long and exhaustive trip to California. For the first time ever, I didn’t have time and energy to keep you updated during the trip. It seems that travelling with two toddlers takes its toll.
Anyhow, we left Helsinki on April 28th very early. The KLM flight to Amsterdam was at 6.45 (way too early flight was compensated nicely with extremely low prices), and the next flight to San Francisco around noon. We were at SFO around 13.00 local time, and then found our way to the hotel (The Donatello, recommendable) with BART.
The rest of the day was spent avoiding sleeping, and making general arrangements. I woke up at four, and spent some time with emails while everyone else was sleeping — this is my favourite time in the US, early mornings in dimly lit hotel rooms. The hotel had complementary breakfast that was not too bad, and after it I went to a breakfast meeting while Sanna and the boys visited a couple playgrounds in the neighbourhood.
San Francisco time was mostly used with short meetings and getting over the worst jet lag.
I rented a car on Thursday 30th, and then drove to Palo Alto for three nights with the Engeström family. They have a fabulous home in a peaceful neighbourhood, and two kids — we felt really like being at home. Aapo and Niilo enjoyed playing with Eliel while adults discussed various topics.
The charm of Palo Alto is in interesting mix of sleepy looking small town with underlying high tech expertise. I could live there.
After spending three nights in Silicon Valley, we drove to Los Angeles. Surprisingly easy drive despite the length. The boys slept almost half of the journey and a portable DVD player does wonders when sitting in the car gets too dull. We visited a bunch of outlet shops in Gilroy while on the road.
The hotel in Los Angeles — The London West Hollywood — was a fabulous experience. The service, the room, and the pool were all top notch. I’ve never experienced such nice service from the bell staff in the US — you usually find this level of service (and amount of staff) only in five star hotels in Asia.
The room was huge, and all amenities were pitch perfect. The pool was really nice and heated. The only thing that I missed was sauna. San Francisco hotel had one that I and Aapo tested with excellent results.
I purchased a mother’s day present to Sanna from Rodeo Drive; a Hermès scarf to her growing collection. Aapo was sleeping in the stroller and I carried Niilo, who didn’t want to stay in my lap — and not even in the store. I caught him at least half a dozen times from the door. Fortunately, I could make up my mind with regards to the scarf pretty quickly.
After Los Angeles we drove to San Diego for visits to Legoland and Seaworld. Boys loves the places. It is easy to understand why San Diego has been chosen as most kid friendly destination in the US: really nice walking area in the downtown, a lot of good restaurants, and several theme parks in couple dozen miles from the city.
After spending a few days, we drove back to Los Angeles to embark flight to Amsterdam and finally back to Finland. After 24 hours of travelling, we were at our home, exhausted but happy to be home.