Saturday, March 19, 2005

Things I like about Berkeley

I'm shamelessly copying Laura. Sometimes I need to think positive thoughts about Berkeley, because I like it, but not as much as the other places I've lived.

There is something in bloom every day of the year. There's hardly ever frost, so all sorts of things can grow. I love walking around the neighborhood just to see what people have in their gardens. Plants I used to grow with effort flourish in people's gardens: huge rosemary bushes, nasturtiums with eight-inch leaves. We don't have outdoor space for plants, but I can grow plants on our windowsill. I have an orchid I got for eight dollars at the farmer's market and haven't killed yet. It's on its second bloom.

The restaurants are fabulous. I dragged Laura to Ristorante Raphael the first day we got together here (it didn't actually require force). It is a kosher Italian restaurant. I bet you've never been to a kosher Italian restaurant. Everything there is absolutely wonderful. Whatever kind of food you want, it's here. If you want sushi, there are lots of options. Thai? Lots of Thai. I might even finally persuade Justin to like Thai. Burritos are the best fast food ever.

When I want to cook (since we can't afford to eat out all the time), there is plenty of fresh, inexpensive produce, at the farmer's market and at Berkeley Bowl, which is a great grocery store even though it's always mobbed. There are two dozen kinds of granola in the bulk bins.

Even when the winter weather is awful, it's still less depressing than Seattle's winters. The autumn was sublime.

We don't have a car. I had a car for nine years before I moved here. I don't miss it at all. We can walk just about everywhere, and the BART to San Francisco is twenty minutes. No car maintenance, no gas (which is really expensive here!), and no insurance.

This is the highest concentration of good bookstores I've ever seen (though for single best bookstore Powell's still wins). Same for music stores.

There are lots of nice people in Justin's department. We hosted a visiting student last weekend and ate out for free at several great restaurants (see above).

We have Hare Krishnas next door, and they sing their Hare Krishna songs every Thursday night, with an accordion and tamborines. It's very charming.

I like the houses. Lots of cute Arts and Crafts bungalows. It makes me sad we couldn't possibly afford even to rent one, but they are fun to look at.

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