Trip to the Bay: Day 2: Berkeley and Oakland

Sunday was spent at church for most of the day. When we were members at the church years ago, my husband and I served on the kitchen team where we prepared lunch after service once every month. Our designated menu item was meatball sub sandwiches and  people either loved it so much they’d pack a ziplock bag full of meatballs to eat for lunch the following week or tolerated it enough to fill their stomachs as a snack/meal. It was known as a “church meal” and we wouldn’t order it or seek after it anywhere outside of church. As mentioned in a previous post, we last visited the Bay two years ago, and during that Sunday we happened to visit on the meatball sub Sunday and my husband and I had a good laugh about it. According to the church members, that was the last time they served meatball subs and they hadn’t eaten it since. That is, until we visited again this past July. Two years later, the meatballs greeted us as though it knew we were coming, welcoming us with its marina sauce and toasted bread. Just like the olden days.

Babies had turned into kids, kids had turned into teens, teens had entered college, and familiar faces were mixed with new. Of course, we had also changed…

After church, we stopped by Artís Coffee on 4th Street, a street we often visited for eye-shopping and walks. The coffee shop was new and spacious, although we couldn’t find any seating indoors because of all the people chatting or studying/working that Sunday afternoon.

We transferred hotels to Claremont Club and Spa for the last two nights. It was a nice hotel and they had some recent renovations done to their rooms. I especially liked the bathroom (not pictured) because it was white-marbled from floor to sink to shower tiles, and it looked very fancy and clean. But it was also very cold. *Note to self: for any house renovation, don’t install marble floors; instead, install floor heaters. ;) The hotel itself was massive and they had tennis courts that were always busy.

Later we grabbed dinner near the hotel, a local spot called La Mediterranee, which has good Armenian food. The reviews on Yelp aren’t great, but the food and atmosphere hasn’t changed, and personally, I really like it and I missed the cinnamon-y chicken cilicia. I’ve never found it anywhere else. After dinner, we stopped by our past favorite ice-cream shop: Ici. One time they had a flavor called ‘mint cookie,’ which was a mint flavored ice cream with oreo cookies blended into it. The cookies weren’t crunchy but almost chewy in texture. So good, but we had only tried it that one time and never caught it again on their rotating menu. Their solid and can’t-go-wrong flavor is the ‘earl grey’ but I also like their affogatos. This time around, I tried the ‘coffee cookie’ (I think that’s what it was called) and it was also very good.

We ate so much, we wanted to take a walk and enjoy the rest of the evening before heading back to the hotel. College Avenue would have been the ideal place since we were already there, but all the shops were closed by the time we finished our ice cream (I had forgotten how most shops close by 7pm), so we decided to head over to Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland. The sun was setting and people were out and about enjoying the last bit of the weekend, talking, dancing, walking their dogs, jogging, and even riding a gondola on the lake.

Field Trip: Echo Park, L.A.

June 2nd: Impromptu trip to the Echo Park in L.A. The weather was sunny and not too hot. I thought it would be nice to have a picnic and ride the swan boats at the lake. Echo Park was also on my Summer List. We packed a light lunch by digging up leftovers from the week and headed to the park. Note to future visitors: street parking can be tricky on weekends because there’s a lot of people especially on nice days and the swan boat rides are $11 per adult and $7(?) for each child. I didn’t know it would be so costly, but since I didn’t think we would ride it ever again, we decided to take the plunge. All in all, it was a pleasant afternoon in the city.

Field Trip: Huntington Library

Field Trip: Huntington Library

In order to get free tickets to the once a month free day at the Huntington Library, you must set an alarm/alert for 8:50am on the first of the month prior. You must be sitting at your computer desk or have your phone in hand with the link to the tickets page open and ready to click. Not the homepage of the Huntington Library or the next two pages leading to the tickets page, but the actual tickets reservation page several clicks in. When the clock strikes 9:00am, hundreds of people will be clicking on the same link, causing a likely site crash by 9:01am. If you get stuck in the crash, you will find yourself looking at a “Sold Out” page by the time the site loads properly, which would be at exactly 9:02am. On April 1st, I leisurely walked to my computer at 9:05am and found myself baffled by the speed in which the tickets were taken. On May 1st, I was ready. I set my alarm, I had the page open on my computer (but it was the page before the reservation page) and the site froze instantly seconds after 9am; luckily I had the reservation page open on my phone and was able to snatch the tickets for June.

A lesson to be learned: Life is a competition.