Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bay Area Trip Report

We had a fantastic time out in the bay area the past week--just the kind of thing we needed for a break.

Lauren went on Craigslist and found a studio apartment that we could rent for the week, and it cost less than a hotel would have. Plus, there's was something nice about being in an apartment, in a neighborhood--it felt like we were honorary Oaklanders. We stayed in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, about a mile from either of two BART stops, but close to a grocer (Safeway) and close to a couple near areas--the College Street area and the Piedmont Street area.

The neighborhood we stayed in and some of the ones we walked through made us both feel nostalgic for our time in Providence, RI, though Providence did not have nearly so many palm trees or late March / early April days in the 70s and 80s. Still, we could easily see ourselves living there and loving it.

We walked quite a lot, especially our first two days there. I figured that each of those days we walked at least 6 miles, though we slowed down a bit after that. Wednesday we went to Berkeley, where a friend's tip found us eating lunch at Chick O Pea's, which was delightful both for its food and for the atmosphere. From there, we made our way across the Berkeley campus, which is quite lovely, and catching a shuttle bus up the hill to their botanic gardens. That proved a nice way to spend the afternoon, albeit largely because we found a park-like area of grass where our own little chickpea fell asleep and took a two-hour nap while Lauren did some drawing and I wrote in my journal. The previous night, when we'd arrived exhausted, we had a very nice Indian dinner at a place on College Street whose name escapes me. Then in Berkeley, I had a brilliant idea: instead of eating dinner in Berkeley, we got frozen yogurt there and went home to eat our leftovers. Yogurt Land provided the necessary yogurt, and wow did we love them for it. They are a self-serve fro-yo joint with--as we recall--10 flavors of fro yo and a ton of toppings, for which they charge a very reasonable price by the ounce (okay--the price for a ton of toppings might not be that reasonable). Lauren and I loved it so much we were about ready to open a yogurt franchise when we got back.

Thursday, we went to the city proper, making a loop from the BART station to the Ferry Building down The Embarcadero to the touristy Pier 39. We might not have stopped there if we hadn't been so worn down by the mile-and-a-half walk in the blazing sun, but we were, so we did. Mildly refreshed, we made our way to the Boudin Bakery where we ate dinner. We enjoyed several forms of sourdough at a shaded table on the street. We were, at this point, within sight of Fisherman's Wharf, but decided to call it a day after buying Lauren some more comfortable shoes and looping back through the city.

Friday, we got together (again, actually, since we had breakfast with him before going to Berkeley) with one of my college buddies, who took us around the city in his car. We saw--and wended our way down--Lombard St, ate at Mel's Drive-In, spent some time around the Golden Gate Bridge, and made our way back to Oakland.

Saturday was a more low-key day. We met up for brunch at Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe with friends we'd made on our honeymoon, then spent some time in the Piedmont area, with particular attention to the Mountainview Cemetery, which was--besides housing lots of dead people--a lovely park. We looked over the shops on Piedmont St. and then got together again with my college buddy to watch the Final Four games and play a couple board games over take-out Chinese from Little Shin-Shin (the Honey-Walnut Prawns were particularly good, as was the Kung Pao beef). We were sad to see our classmate Shaka Smart and his VCU Rams exit the tourney, but life went on.

Sunday, we walked to the Temescal Farmer's Market, though what we were really looking for were the two playgrounds, connected by a walking path that runs behind the farmer's market. There was an insanely busy playground for older kids at one end of the path and a less-frequented one for toddlers at the other end. At the former, our tot learned from the other kids how to shovel sand into a bucket and narrowly avoided being infected by a sick kid. At the latter playground, she found the thrill of a slide (with mommy holding her all the way down!). We had mediocre tamales at the farmer's market, then headed to The Crepevine (referred to yesterday) on College. We spent time napping and packing and then had a vegan dinner with the aforementioned honeymoon friends.

And then we woke up at 3 am to get out the door by 4 to catch the 4:30 BART to the airport for our 7 am flight. Fifteen+ hours after walking out the door of our home-away-from-home in Oakland, we got home. As I said in my Facebook status: it's good to get away, but it's great to get home.

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