Berkeley is the wildcard of the East Bay, usually the seemingly black and white part of the Bay (chaotic and urban Oakland versus the idyllic suburbs from Orinda to Concord and Castro Valley). with Berkeley, it's a tame but certainly not boring spot of the Bay, most consider it just a small-scale San Francisco on the other side of the bridge. i love it, even for it's hippie rep, but beyond that (c'mon, Telegraph Ave is only one street of many in the city). i love the spirit and liveliness of every street corner and shop and home you encounter. back in 2007-2010 was the time i spent the most in Berkeley, and the things you could see here! i had to write about it, and that's how i produced my novel The Muse Land.
The Muse Land is set in scattered parts around the Bay, but a great deal of the story is in Berkeley, where my protagonist, Cameron Carlson, settles down in after dropping out of Vassar College to become a writer. he's made a right decision in that, because it truly is a wondrous place to find whatever it is you're looking for out of happiness or inspiration. it's just that people simply CANNOT get over the whole drab, dirty, radical hippie image of the city. that was the 60's, THIS is 2010's.
Berkeley is really chic and urban for all the pleasant right reasons, and i was very glad to see that Refinery29 created a shopping and dining guide on their San Francisco domain for the up-to-date fashion and lifestyle website. it lists some spots i'm well familiar with, and some new and up-and-coming little boutiques and eateries i know that i must see for myself!