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Today was a Good Day

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    Stefan Aleksic

I had a fantastic day and wanted to write about it.

My friend Jeron came to SF to hang out for the weekend. I woke up, got ready for the day, and got a text message from my roommate, Dan, asking if we want to get brunch. I don’t know why he even asks me anymore when I always say yes. I was so excited and hungry. I called my friend Changbai to ask if he wanted to join us at The Grove in Hayes Valley.

“Most definitely.”

We checked up on Jeron’s car parked overnight at an outside parking lot. No windows smashed — lucky.

We managed to get there right before the line to be huge. The Grove Breakfast burrito is the move, to be honest. I was trying to save some room in my stomach for the Serbian food we would have in Santa Clara later but I couldn’t resist.

Jeron took his stuff from my apartment and we were on our way to Santana Row. An hour and a few “spooky boogies” later, we parked our car and headed to “Silicon Valley’s premiere destination for shopping.” I was suddenly hit by flashbacks and couldn’t believe it.

In 2014, PayPal gave me an all expense paid trip to San Jose to compete in their BattleHack World Finals. The limo driver took me to some fancy high-end hotel in San Jose. I was a freshman in college and I had no idea what Silicon Valley really was, and had practically no experience with the tech industry. I also didn’t have any fashion sense. (I wore Nike sandals with no socks to a PayPal dinner event) I was with my friend Antony at that time. We would go around pretending like we were some rich startup people who recently sold our startups for millions when people passed by, somehow pranking them.

Today, I learned that the place PayPal had me stay 3 years ago was Hotel Valencia in Santana Row. When we got to Santana Row, I was jumping up and down in excitement. I couldn’t believe I was back in this place that had so much significance to me. I immediately called my friend Antony on Messenger Video and showed him the place I was at. He knew right away where I was and we both started cracking up. We were talking about how we were walking down this street, and it was hilarious. After that call, I did some introspection and couldn’t believe how much of a different and more experienced person I was today.

Santana Row was great — we went to a couple of stores. However, there were two that really stood out for me. The Tesla store and the Amazon Book Store.

The Tesla store was special just in that it was the first time I ever sat in a Tesla. I don’t know whether it was just the hype people have around the car or what, but I truly fell in love with the car as soon as I sat down in the driver’s seat. The Amazon Book Store was innovative. It had Amazon ratings under all the books, it was organized in a really productive way, and so much was data driven. One would constantly see “Top 10 most rated books of all time” shelves in the store. Amazon is really utilizing their Good Reads and Kindle data to create an amazing physical store experience.

Once we were done with our Sanata Row excursion, we went to the only Balkan food place in the Bay Area (at least to my knowledge). Euro Grill in Santa Clara. When we got there, a man was standing outside the “Euro Market” store front. We went to the market first to buy some Serbian snacks when all of a sudden this man started talking to me in my language. It was so cool — I have not talked to someone in my language, in person, since last August. He gave me his business card and was a really great guy.

We went to the Euro Grill and it was so great to share my culture and my food with my friends Changbai and Jeron. We all got Ćevapi which is my favorite food in the world.

It was absolutely delicious.

With full stomachs, we went to Jeron’s place and hung out with his incredibly hyper dog. When the dog got tired, we went to get some amazing Chinese dessert at Meet Fresh 鮮芋仙. It was some of the best desserts I have ever had in my life. I thought I wouldn’t like the hot dessert because that sounded kind of weird but the purple rice dish I had was just like something in Serbian called жито which I guess is just grain.

Time for catching the CalTrain was approaching fast so Jeron drove us to the Lawrence CalTrain. Changbai and I got on the train and boarded for San Francisco.

After a great number of conversations, we finally got to San Francisco 2 hours later.

What a great day.