(Ryan) Early April, I had the opportunity to go back to the Bay Area in California to catch up with changes going on at Instagram. Its been almost a full year since we moved, and I've only been back to the old campus once. The last time I went back, Caitlin wasn't even able to come!
After a smooth, non-stop flight into San Jose, we arrived to find out that the type of car that we reserved, a mid-size sedan, was all sold out. Avis gave me the option between a decent SUV and a sports car.
We took the car.
Our hotel was right in the middle of Palo Alto, between where some of the world's biggest tech companies had their start and Stanford's campus.
The day after we arrived, I headed into the office and Caitlin set off to revisit some of our favorite spots in Palo Alto's downtown. She quickly remembered how much she loved Tea Time.
After work it was my turn to remember. We had pizza at my favorite restaurant in Redwood City, Vesta.
When we finished our meal (and were stuffed), we took a stroll down memory lane, reminiscing all of the places we used to visit in downtown Redwood City.
There was the movie theater where we saw The Martian premier, Philz coffee (I miss it so much...), the Fox theater where we celebrated our first Instagram holiday party... just so many memories.
But its incredible how much has changed!
The next day Caitlin came with me to visit the new Instagram office, labeled "Building 24" on Facebook's campus.
It's amazing how much the company has grown in less than three years since I joined. This new, huge, gorgeous office has all of the charm and allure that you'd expect from Instagram.
The interior design and decor is just stunning. Clean and modern.
But of course there is some classic Instagram fun and flair.
Our next night out had to be Oh Baby Sushi in Redwood City. Our great friends Cate and Travis turned us on to this place.
On top of huge, mouth-watering sushi rolls, this place also does a tempura cheesecake.
Then it was time for my race! I've been training for a full marathon this year. It's been a lot of work, running in the mornings and spending hours running on the weekends, but it all paid off when I crossed that finish line in 2 hours and 4 minutes!
My co-worker, Andrew (who also ran), and his wife Tremaine were there at the finish line with Caitlin to cheer me on!
I somehow was able to go back to work after running a half-marathon, and Caitlin went back to explore Stanford's campus with Tremaine.
I swear this is the most beautiful campus on earth.
Half Moon Bay was another favorite spot of ours. We loved taking the dogs over the hills and down to the beach so they could run in the cold, wet sand.
I was talking to Instagram's co-founder Mike about our weekend adventures and he mentioned a favorite of his called La Costanera. It's a Peruvian restaurant with incredible views.
Even with an overcast sunset, it was beautiful.
The next morning we went to Alana's for brunch. This restaurant, stuffed into an old house, was a weekly occurrence, especially since it was only a block away from our apartment.
Alana's has the most incredible, fluffy scrambled eggs with fresh fruit, scones, coffee cake, and soft potatoes.
Saturday turned into our "explore San Francisco" day. We started our adventure parking in the Marina and walking around the Palace of Fine Arts.
For living in the area almost two years, neither of us had ever visited this beautiful structure before.
Then after a wrong turn, we stumbled into Fort Point which sits just under the southern end of the Golden Gate bridge.
Caitlin took probably the best pic of the trip from the top of the fort.
Caitlin took me to the Western edge of the peninsula to show me the Sutro Baths, which she had explored once before.
It's this leftover, cement structure where people used to bath and socialize. It burned down a while ago and the city converted the area in to a park.
On the way out we snuck up to Twin Peaks for a quick pic. Caitlin has been up here more than she cares for, and the wind was a little much for my hair.
It's still the best view of the city, so I'm happy!
Another point-of-interest that we never made it to while living in the area is the Painted Ladies. They were a short drive over from the base of Twin Peaks, and we got lucky with parking.
The park across the street was closed for repair, but we were still able to find a good vantage point for a pic.
While there, we had to read up on Wikipedia why these houses were a thing. Turns out "painted ladies" is just a style of colorful, early 1900s homes in San Francisco. This row of 5 is just the most famous example in the city.
On our last day in Calfornia, we took Route 1 south to Monterey.
After a couple fails (huge wait for breakfast, no cash for 17 mile drive), we decided to spend the day in Monterey. We found parking next to the coast and walked a good half mile remembering how beautiful the whole state is.
We settled on going to the Monterey Aquarium for a few hours. This aquarium is huge with tons of special exhibits. They posted daily feeding schedules and we made it in time to see the penguins fed.
They were super cute, and we looked like nerds huddled up with tons of kids. But we love penguins!
California is definitely the most beautiful state I've ever visited, let alone be lucky enough to live in. Caitlin and I both decided that we need to come back more often, not just to revisit places that we used to love, but to continue exploring all that California has to offer.
And obviously to take some sweet pics:
Until next time!