Friday, February 27, 2009

Three Days in Bezerkley

I've just finished three days in Berkeley, visiting a nearly a dozen folks, and still had time for yoga and a hot tub—though not at the same time. (The hot tub was terrific for clearly out the nasal congestion I accumulated after three days of riding Amtrak with a head cold.)

Berkeley is one of my favorite cities for walking and I probably logged about 15 miles on foot—a great antidote after 60 hours of train travel. I never even used my BART card. Known mainly for its off-the-left-end-of-the-specturm politics, and as the main campus of the University of California (which are not unrelated), I appreciate Berkeley for it's surprises. Here's a taste of my last three days:

A. Restaurants
If you can't find an excellent example of your favorite ethnic cuisine in Berkeley, you haven't been trying hard enough. In my brief visit I enjoyed deep dish Chicago-style broccoli pizza at Zachary's on College, paella at an prix-fixe place on Solano, and a delicious wedge of ham&swiss quiche at Sweet Adeline's on, of course, Adeline. I also found time for visits to Saul's New York-style delicatessen, the Cheeseboard Collective, Kirala sushi, and the Triple Rock Brewery, all on Shattuck.

B. Flora
In Berkeley's Mediterranean climate, flowers bloom year round. Right now, one of my personal favorites was strutting its stuff: the bird of paradise. It has an impossible multi-colored flower that looks as if it were the head of a tropical bird, created in origami, using five different sheets of colored paper. I have absoultely no idea how natural selection could have concocted such a representational bloom. Luckily, I don't have to know. I can just pause, enjoy it, and shake my head in wonder whenever I find them in people's yards.

C. Diversity
In addition to being one of the most handicap-accessible places in the US, Berkeley also has an impressive array of bike lanes imbedded in their street grid. However, that's only the more obvious tip of their diversity iceberg.

Yesterday, for example, I came across the Berkeley Chinese Baptist Church, on the corner of Berkeley Way and Sacramento. Last month, if you'd asked if where I was most likely to find any Chinese Baptist church, I might have guessed Shanghai, Taipei, or perhaps Mars. I would not, however, have guessed Berkeley. As I reflected on the adjectives "Berkeley," "Chinese," and "Baptist," it occurred to me that one wouldn't automatically expect to hear any two of those names associated with the category "church", much less all three.

But that's Berkeley for you. You never know who or what you'll bump into.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can find a Chinese Baptist Church in Columbia, MO as well (not a bad city to live in) always, enjoying your blog