Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Weekend south of the City - Exploring San Jose's downtown

We go to San Jose often but we never stay and explore the area.  The past weekend, Mijo and I decided to drive down to San Jose and spent a night on the town.

San Jose's downtown is compact, walkable, neat and packed with sites that appeal to the taste buds, visually attractive and tickle the creative brain. 

When we go to San Jose, we go there because of work stuff, to visit friends, attend a party, go to festivals, check out a restaurant, specials events like weddings or go to a concert or a ball game. Mijo and I have never really walked around downtown San Jose or visited any of San Jose's museums the way tourists do. One weekend, that's just what Mijo and I did. We spent a night on the town and played tourists. 

It was a glorious fall Saturday and the drive on highway 101 from San Francisco through the peninsula to San Jose was smooth. I hear stories about gridlocks during the week on the same route but we experienced none of it that day.

We reached Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park in less than an hour. San Jose definitely gets more sunshine than San Francisco. Without the morning fog, San Jose also feels warmer. I can just imagine how many tomatoes I can grow if I lived there. 

The plaza had adirondack chairs spread on the park under the shade. Kids were already playing in the children's playground and playing with water around the fountains. The VTA light rail trains move up and down the area adding its sounds into the city's urban rhythm. The area is also flat which makes is perfect for walking. 
San Jose downtown - Cezar Chavez Park
We walked around to check out the Fairmont Hotel and the stores nearby particularly my favorite the Muji store. I also saw a pastries place called Bijan and I made a mental note to get something tomorrow to bring back home.
San Jose downtown - VTA San Jose downtown - Sculpture San Jose downtown - E San Fernando St

After our self walking tour, we decided to get something to eat at the nearby San Pedro Square Market. This place is a public market that includes several food vendors very much like the Ferry Building and Market Place in San Francisco. It offers American, Vietnamese, Pizza, Pasta, a bar, Peruvian,  sushi place, Mediterranean, coffee, oyster place, etc. 
  San Pedro Square Market - Food court 3 
San Pedro Square Market - Facadejpg San Pedro Square Market - Food court 2 San Pedro Square Market - Food court 1 
Just like at any foodie places, I always feel challenged to make a quick decision. Lots of food and cuisines to choose from. After I switched back and forth with my choices, I finally decided to get a Gyro salad from Robee's Falafel. Mijo got a carbonara pasta from Pasta Fresca. We sat outdoors and had, in what I can remember, one of the longest lunches we've in a while. It was so enjoyable. We finished it off with a basic crepe from Crepes and More and we shared a small Americano from Bellano Coffee.
San Pedro Square Market - Food court 3 San Pedro Square Market - Food court outdoor San Pedro Square Market - Pasta Fresca Carbonara 
San Pedro Square Market - Robees Falafel Gyro Salad San Pedro Square Market - Crepes and More crepe San Pedro Square Market - Bellano Coffee Americano 

After the long lunch, we decided to make use of the remaining day light by going to the Tech Museum of Innovation. Neither one of us has been there before. The place kept us mentally engages so we didn't get sleepy. The place has lots of hands on exhibits that will make you think and think hard. They also have an Imax theatre that was showing Journey to Space and that was immensely satisfying.
  The Tech Museum - Facade
The Tech Museum - Skin cell prototype The Tech Museum - Image printer The Tech Museum - Journey To Space 
The Tech Museum - Exit The Tech Museum - Crowd 
Speaking of an immensely satisfying experience, I absolutely enjoyed the Bio Design section where they  have a hands on exhibit about sustanable mushroom bricks. I was told they can be stronger than concrete when dried. Not to mention sustainable. First they provided us a mold. Then we filled the mold with mushroom pieces into a brick shape. Then the brick shaped pieces of mushrooms were put in an oven-like structure to dry.
  The Tech Museum - Mushroom brick finished product 
The Tech Museum - Mushroom brick queue The Tech Museum - Mushroom brick growing station The Tech Museum - Mushroom brick fill a mold 
The next morning, we decided to get breakfast at this place called Deluxe Eatery Drinkery.  I liked the interior which is dimmed, urban with a nice center chandelier. The wall arts suggest a jazzy concept. Mijo ordered a Salmon bagel. I ordered a corned beef hash.
Deluxe Eatery Drinkery - Salmon bagel 
Deluxe Eatery Drinkery - Bread jelly coffee Deluxe Eatery Drinkery - Corned beef hash 
Deluxe Eatery Drinkery - Facade Deluxe Eatery Drinkery - Interior 

Afterward, Mijo and I decided to check out the San Jose Museum of Art since it is also nearby.  There was a section that was closed that day and I was not sure what's in that section. Aside from the permanent collection of local Bay Area artists, the museum was also having an exhibit on Milton Rogovin's Life and Labor.
  San Jose Museum of Art - Facade 
San Jose Museum of Art - Lobby glass works San Jose Museum of Art - Sculpture Italo Scanga San Jose Museum of Art - Indestructible wonder 
San Jose Museum of Art - Life and Labor Milton Rogovin San Jose Museum of Art - Cafe San Jose Museum of Art - Artists in Residence 

I really liked the Water Table by artist Evan Holm. 
The exhibit includes dead manzanita branches from the deadly fire in the Sierra foothills as roots or table anchors. The liquid in the table is black with duckweed floating and form into different formations. And then there are spools of tape running the entire length of the table. I am not sure if those are the spools of tapes that play the intrumental recordings. There are wireless headphone you can use to listen to the artist's intrumental recordings.
  San Jose Museum of Art - Water Table Evan Holm other end
San Jose Museum of Art - Water Table Evan Holm reflection San Jose Museum of Art - Water Table Evan Holm details 

I remembered my mental note the day before. Mijo and I dropped by Bijan to get this creme puff and a small chocolate cake.
  Bijan - Goodies

Our San Jose trip was a relaxing night on the town for us.


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