30 December 2006

Some Bay Area moments

I'm kind of exhausted right now, after two busy days of wandering around.

The first day took me to Berkeley first, where I bought my ticket for the CodePink New Year's Eve party, before spending time in Sonoma Valley, in particular tasting five different and wonderful varieties of wine at Chateau St. Jean winery. Afterwards, I returned to Berkeley to wander the shops of Fourth Avenue and downtown. Although I had planned to also visit Pacific Center, it was closed for New Year's weekend, so I returned to the hotel after a dinner in Emeryville. I capped off the evening by ice skating at Yerba Buena Gardens - my first ice skating experience in over a decade.

Today, it was all about San Francisco. I started in the Castro district, visiting its new Gay and Lesbian Center, before tracking down a few other novel-related sights all over town. Afterwards, the rest of the day was spent at the Cartoon Museum in SoMa, shopping in Haight-Ashbury and Union Street, and back in Castro for dinner.

It appears that I am starting to establish a pattern here in the Bay Area, repeating whenever I return. The ethnic food court in Emeryville has been my favorite hangout, dating back to when I lived in Concord. But just as much of my favorite hangouts now are Union Street (especially its Lush store for bath solutions) and Haight-Ashbury, not to mention A Different Light bookstore in the Castro thanks to its lesbian and transgender themed books - despite most of the store merchandise still catering to men. And Castro itself, despite its male orientation (or more like because of it), looks like a good place to eat out. (And the same holds true of other cities' gay men's neighborhoods - I never thought I'd hang out with the guys!)

It's refreshing to see lots of overt anti-W activism on the streets and on the bumper stickers. So much so, that I actually find W supporters here to be brave (if misguided) souls, a far cry from the lemmings in my own neck of woods.

I've been dressed in tunic sweaters and leggings - and unlike in Los Angeles, where I would stand out wearing the look, I find plenty of other women wearing similar looks here. It's so nice to be in fashion again.

And here are some photos from yesterday...

Global Exchange's Berkeley store. This place sells good made with "fair labor standards" - in other words, no sweatshops. The store also reminded me that the popular Bratz dolls, retailing for about $16 each, are made in a Chinese sweatshop at a labor cost of just 16 cents per doll.

Peace banner at Global Exchange. No matter in which language, peace is important.

Poster seen at an independent bookstore in downtown Berkeley on Shattuck Avenue. It reminds that independent bookstores contribute to the local economy in ways the likes of Amazon never can.

These dogs are fakes. Seen near Fourth Street in western Berkeley.

The garden of Chateau St. Jean winery north of Sonoma.