Growing up with an interest in tech outside of the US gave me an almost mythical perception of Silicon Valley. I spent many years of hitting F5 while reading WWDC live blogs in high school and hearing stories about Xerox PARC from my software architecture professor in uni (who once worked there). Ever since I blew an interview for a Stanford student exchange program after studying hard to get top grades, I had felt a need to go to the valley in order to redeem myself. Now, this was finally happening.
On this occasion, I wasn't traveling alone but went with my great friend from high school, Stefan) and his colleague Robin. Me and Stefan were renting an AirBnB just south of the Mission district, which had become some kind of mix between Hispanic neighborhoods and hipster cafés where patrons were outnumbered by MacBooks. Unfortunately, Stefan didn't get a WWDC-ticket so he attended the increasingly popular AltConf instead.
Since this was the first WWDC for us all, we went for the keynote queueing experience at 4 AM. Of course we got in line just outside an alleyway acting as a massive wind tunnel. Freezing our asses off wasn't really what we expected of sunny California but the excitement of finally being there kept us cheerful through the early morning. Running into the Presidio chasing good seats felt surreal. Since the wifi was much better than expected, I couldn't hold my excitement together and video called some friends and colleagues eagerly awaiting the keynote in Sweden.
Already in the first minutes of the keynote, you could feel this time was somehow different. Everything started off with a video celebrating app developers all over the world. And then, Tim Cook announced that there would be three topics for the presentation: The Mac, iOS and developer tools. For a keynote that nowadays had become adapted for press and general enthusiasts, something was odd. Especially considering that most dev goodies are usually announced during the Platforms State of the Union keynote, just after.
When Craig Federighi uttered the words "What would it be like if we had Objective-C without the baggage of C?", everybody in the room looked at each other in confused disbelief. And as of that moment, the Apple developer community had a new language to learn.
The WWDC week was one of the most intense in my life. Every morning, we woke up early for a big breakfast and took our bikes to Moscone Center in time for the morning sessions. I would watch a session, queue for labs, then lunch, labs and sessions again. In between the madness, everybody rushed for coffee and bumped into friends running from one auditorium to the other. Then after the conference was closed for the night, there were dozens of parties and events for meeting up over a drink.
On Saturday just after the conference, me and Stefan rented a car to visit his relatives in Thousand Oakes, just outside Los Angeles. Resting my brain after a weeks worth of information overload was well worth and I hadn't driven a car since I started traveling. After meeting up with Stefans relatives we did some touristing all around the area. We went to Santa Monica, visiting the pier from the GTA games and of course worked out at Gold's Gym Venice: The Mecca of bodybuilding, where good ol' Arnold once trained for the Olympia :D
Even though Stockholm has a vibrant tech community, it doesn't even compare to what we witnessed sightseeing Silicon Valley. In cafe's and on benches in the street, there were college students stereotypically pitching startups ideas to venture capitalists in suits. We even encountered people discussing variable scoping, casually walking the pavement.
During the final days before heading back to Stockholm, we took a hike in the beautiful Yosemite National Park together with Peter Steinberger of PSPDFKit. We had been planning this since long before WWDC, but with the announcement that Mac OS 10.10 was named after the park it made even more sense.
All the administrative requirements for entering and camping in the park was very unusual for us as Swedes. We had to book a specific trail and there were regulations for where to camp and special permits to get. In Sweden you can camp anywhere you want unannounced, including on private property as long as you're not within sight of a residency.
In the end we decided on camping on top of the Yosemite Falls trail, giving us great views over the valley and some of its biggest landmarks. Although we were a bit disappointed that we didn't get robbed by bears, it was a great trip nonetheless.
After ticking off the mandatory tourist attractions in San Fransisco, it was time to leave California for a traditional Swedish midsummer in the Stockholm archipelago. With all the new stuff in iOS 8 and Swift, we all had a lot to digest. And what better way to do that then with some Swedish schnapps? :)