Checking out my new home

Even though I’ve known for a while that I was moving to the Berkeley, California area, I had not actually been there before. I went to San Francisco in 2004 with Erin, but that’s been a while, and we never got to Berkeley.

So last week I met Mike out there and we looked at some houses. As much as it broke my heart to pass on a house with avocado, fig, lime, and kumquat trees a bike ride away from Mike’s office, I totally fell in love with the other place we looked at just outside of Berkeley.

The price tag is more than double what we pay in Des Moines, but we got a whole house with garage, yard, and an extra basement room I can use for crafting and shipping my Etsy packages.

Instead of fruit trees, I get lots and lots of succulents and pretty flowers growing in the yard.

Also, perfect weather, a cute neighborhood, and proximity to an Anthropologie, Paper Source, and cb2. (happy dance!)

Side note: Have you guys used Zipcar before? I think we used it three times, and we thought it was about the best thing ever.

I had some time to explore Berkeley on my own, so I started out walking around the campus. There’s a trail that goes through a woodsy area right in the middle of campus. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the trees.

After a while I got tired of walking, so I did what everyone else was doing — laid down in a big grassy field and just hung out for a while. I didn’t have a book with me, but I had my iPod. It was one of the best things I did the entire trip.

Mike was telling me about the “gourmet ghetto,” the foodie neighborhood where Chez Panisse is located. There’s a pizza restaurant called the Cheese Board that serves only one type of pizza per day.

You can get it by the slice, or in half or whole pizzas. We got a half with swiss chard, fontina, and citrus zest, and we ate it outside because the restaurant was so packed.

I don’t know if you can tell but we were actually sitting in the median of the road next to a bunch of other people. They should put benches out there!

We also tried some pizza at Jupiter, which is just around the corner from Mike’s office. He had one with figs and I had one with golden potato slices. Very yummy.

I think I still have quite a bit of exploring of Berkeley left to do, but I definitely preferred the areas further away from downtown and campus. There are some very cute neighborhoods and lots of great restaurants and shopping.

We were actually staying in San Francisco via a work connection of Mike’s in probably the most fabulous version of couch surfing I’ll ever do. The couple we stayed with own a house in North Beach, very somewhere in between Fisherman’s Wharf, Lombard Street, and Telegraph Hill.

They own the whole building and have extra apartments available when people visit. The rooftop view at night was absolutely gorgeous. There’s no way I could have captured it with a photo. And we even got a home-cooked French meal of warm bread and tomatoes, souffle, and haricots verts. We were definitely spoiled.

The house is that neighborhood.

If you peeked over some of the hills you could see through to the bay.

In between there and the BART stop, we had amazing dim sum in Chinatown, Italian at the cutest place on Columbus Street, drinks at Vesuvio (an old haunt of Jack Kerouac and the beat poets), and awesome Mexican at this tiny place we found by googling essentially “is there a Mexican restaurant on this street?”

We also found the most adorable hat shop that’s been in business for more than 100 years. I don’t have any pictures yet, but we decided we were brave enough to each buy a hat. Apparently some of their designs were made off of the original molds, so they are definitely legit.

Apart from the super touristy stuff, I just completely fell in love with San Francisco. If there is a city that’s me, that’s the one. It has such a romanticism, but it’s also eclectic. And it’s a huge city, but in places it feels nice and quiet. The food’s unbelievable. It’s just so cool that I’m getting to live in the bay area.

So now we have to get to packing, and there’s a LOT to get done. But it’s nice to finally be able to focus on the transition, and to know where we’ll be living!