Welcome to Berkeley, a lovely little town north of San Francisco and Oakland, famous for having the oldest college campus in California along with it's politically liberal vibe.
While walking through Berkeley, it's evident that the town takes great pride in itself. The street lamps are adorned with baskets of flowers, the sidewalks are clean and the buildings beautiful and well maintained.
Quirky and creative individuals and businesses abound, with small cafes offering live orchestral performances or Japanese curry. One intersection has three distinct movie cinemas operating on different corners, each offering different movies. Amoeba records flagship store opened in 1990 in Berkeley, so if you're a music geek that's worth noting. It's a huge store with a robust selection and has expanded with newer locations in San Francisco (which we visited) and another in Hollywood.
While a fairly small town of permanent residents at around 100k, I imagine it's pretty safe to estimate that the population boons during college season. Several people remarked on the amusing contrast of seeing young preppie college kids mingling with a bunch of hippies, but that's the kind of atmosphere the town fosters. Everyone we spoke with was friendly and glowed with pride for their home.
Curious? I've got lots of photos for you below!
Ginormous rice crispy treats!! Yum!
Makes me think of Voodoo Donuts with less deep frying… :)
Flower baskets hanging from the street lamps, lovely!
One of the several movie theaters dotting the area.
I love the brickwork on this building. I like bricks in general, though I doubt they're an especially good idea in earthquake prone regions?
What a pretty entryway!
A few new releases along with flashback thursdays where they'll be showing Groundhog Day (!!) and Fight Club (!!!). I would love to see those movies in theaters, I wish more went this route.
And another theater...
I believe this was either attached to or close to the college campus, but I thought the design was neat. The whole building looks like it's been shingled. Makes me think of a hobbit hole that's gone topside!
We poked our heads into a couple of the local glass shops, which primarily focused on showcasing creations from local artists. As artists ourselves, Antho and I can definitely appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into some of the designs and the support for the local community of creators is always a great thing to see. While walking along Telegraph avenue we met a glassblower who explained the entire process of creating a mushroom bead for me and it was surprisingly convoluted. She was really fun, though, said she'd dated one of the members of Motorhead back in the day, and her glass art was absolutely beautiful!
Some serious buckets of nutella!
Blondie's Pizza has a cool sign!
Clever name for a hat shop... they sell goggles as well, because naturally.
Almost all of the businesses inside the building were closed (only for the afternoon, I hope) but the interior was fun. Reminded me of some of the food courts I found in Japan, especially one in Tokyo's Odaiba area...
I'm glad the feeling is mutual, otherwise things might be rather awkward.
Then there's this little lady in front of a small goth shop next to the Buffalo Exchange.
We found our way over to People's park, which was sort of recommended by a local.
Pretty park, though there were a lot of people without homes… but at least the climate is pleasant. If I had to go without a home, I'd definitely prefer the Bay Area over Vegas! They seem to be treated with some measure of respect here, as well, which is good.
Antho admiring the foliage.
A large mural not far from People's park.
And there was a cool painted van just across from it!
We found our way to Amoeba records! Hurrah! This was one of the destinations Antho really hoped to see. :)
See how far back the aisles go? There were other rooms like this one!
After we left Amoeba we found this crowd gathered for a business called CREAM, i.e. Cookies Rule Everything Around Me. Sounds like a group Cookie Monster would attend in the hopes of curing his hopeless addiction to the cookie cravings.
"Berkeley Buds", adorable little succulents growing out of corks!
What did you think she sold? o_O
My favorites were these guys,
bears and dragons and dinos,
And all with a little succulent growing out of their backs.
I ended up purchasing one of them because they seemed like such a cute fusion of our hosts' interests, what with Jackie being into gardening and Christian having a collection of dinosaurs about the house!
There were many vendors on either side of the street, that was how we ended up meeting the friendly glassblower!
Pink and blue panda box!
Aww, what's wrong little door?
And another movie theater!
This guy not only played the horn but tap danced while at it!
And he had a bow tie and suspenders on. Bringing some class to busking, eh buddy?
Inside Berkeley station. The guy to the right was playing a lovely melody that echoed hauntingly through the space.
On our way out of town we caught the train going the wrong direction and ended up out in Lafayette. We were able to catch a train the right way and make it back no problem, but the view was pretty despite featuring quite a large cemetery.
From here we made it back to Oakland and took our newly acquired Dinoplant to his new residence!