Silicon Valley FAQ
hit the ground running
Coming to Silicon Valley and want to know your way around? Where to go and how to get there are questions many visitors have to tackle, not to mention the ultimate goal of getting into the Silicon Valley mindset. Getting from one place to another can sometimes be challenging, but before sending out emails and asking people to Google things for you, check out these practical tips we get questions about all the time.
First, check out Bifrost - A Nordic Guide to Silicon Valley
This is a guide we have created just for you to prepare your Silicon Valley journey. If you haven’t read it already, do it now. You can access the guide here.
Traveling to the US - you will need ESTA
Apply as soon as your travel plans are confirmed, recommended at least 2 weeks before travel (official minimum 72 hours).
Working in the US - you will need a visa
If you are planning on doing business during your trip, you will need to consult your lawyer to apply for a visa.
Three words you will get familiar with when staying in the Bay Area: traffic, traffic, traffic. Unless you are strictly staying in San Francisco, you will be in a car and you will be in traffic.
In Silicon Valley we don’t tell distance in miles (or kilometers), we tell it in time. Trip from San Francisco to Palo Alto can either take 1 hour or over 2 hours depending on traffic. Always take into account traffic when scheduling meetings. The (worst) rush hours are 7-9am in the morning and 4-7pm in the evening.
Sometimes you will be able to benefit from the luxury of public transport. BART has a few stops in San Francisco and runs to Berkeley and Oakland (also OAK airport).
Caltrain runs between San Francisco and San Jose, with stops at the downtowns in Redwood City, Palo Alto (hei, Nordic Innovation House!), downtown Mountain View, and Downtown Sunnyvale - to name the main stops. Note that there is a free shuttle service, Marguerite, from the Palo Alto Caltrain Station to Stanford Campus. The walk would take you 20 minutes.
Palo Alto Parking is a fun game, you can park for free for 2 hours (3 hours in the garages), then you will need to move your car to a differently colored parking zone. Check out the parking zones here. In the garages you can also pay $25 for daily parking permit (the parking violation fee is over $40, and you can get multiple in a day).
where to stay?
Accommodation in Silicon Valley is expensive. That is what you know. And then you get here and realize that it is even more expensive than what you imagined.
If you have hard time finding accommodation in Palo Alto, nearby options include Menlo Park and Mountain View. East Palo Alto can be a bit sketchy, so we don’t recommend staying there.
Yes, people still use them, so bring your business cards! We recommend getting business cards with a US cell phone number. If you get your cards here, you can go to e.g. Copy Factory (3929 El Camino Real Palo Alto, CA 94306) for same day printing, you just need a pdf file that can be printed as a complete business card. If you have time to order online, check out e.g. VistaPrint, MOO.
Easy option is to get a prepaid plan, with minutes and data included, from T-mobile, AT&T, Verizon or the cheaper option from GoSmartMobile, all available a short walk from Nordic Innovation House. We recommend AT&T or T-Mobile for smartphones bought in Europe.
restaurants in palo alto
Palo Alto is full of great food, these are just a few picks close to Nordic Innovation House
Coconuts - Get to the Carribbean
Coupa Café - Few steps down Ramona, "Where tech entrepreneurs and investors work and meet"
Local Union 271 - Family owned, farm-to-table
NOLA - New Orleans’ vibes
Oren’s Hummus - The best hummus in the Bay Area
Sanchos Taqueria - Mexican street food, cash only!
Steam - Dumplings!
Sushirrito - American sushi fusion you have to experience
Sweet Greens - Healthy lunch salads
Wahlburgers - Try the Impossible burger