1:15pm: I’m sitting on a BART train at the Millbrae station. Where am I going? No idea. Ever since I’ve been aware of BART, I’ve had a vague desire to just… ride it. Go off on a public transit tour of the universe, as it were. I suspect what I’m going to do is transfer a few stations from here, off the line I’m on now that runs to Pleasanton and onto the Pittsburg/Bay Point line. I may get off at various points on the way, I may not; I think I’ll just ride it to the end and then possibly stop at Rockridge on the return trip. I’ll see. Right now, I can write rather than attempt to sight-see, though; most of BART is a subway between here and Oakland. (For those who aren’t in the SF Bay Area, BART’s trains go through a tunnel called the Transbay Tube to get across the bay, rather than following a bridge.) While the BART trains themselves are quiet, their trip through subway tunnels is decidedly not; this time I thought to get some disposable earplugs, and it does make a world of difference.
alinsa once referred to me having a perverse fascination with public transit. I don’t know if that’s true, strictly speaking, but I do like both BART and Caltrain, perhaps in part because there’s simply nothing like them where I grew up. I’ve heard people who’ve grown up with New York or Boston subway cap on the Bay Area’s public transit, but BART isn’t municipal rail. It isn’t long haul commuter rail, either, really; it’s sort of “intermetro” rail.
1:30-ish: I’ve made the threatened transfer, so I’m off on… well, an adventure of some kind, depending on what one considers adventurous. I doubt this will be a quest for food, given that I stopped at Millbrae’s El Super Burrito for lunch and had, well, three-quarters of the mysterious concoction known as a “California Burrito”: carne asada, avocado, sour cream, cheese, and French fries. Yes, in the burrito, instead of rice. It works, but it’s certainly not a light meal. I could attempt to get coffee at Ritual Roasters and might try for that on the way back, although when I’m in Oakland I might try to get Blue Bottle if I can remember where they are.
Yes, remember, not look up: I am without my iPhone today. This is sounding lower and lower tech all the time, if you discount the fact that I’m sitting here typing on a laptop. But I’ve given up on the various carrying cases I’ve tried for the iPhone—both clips broke, and I’ve been carrying the thing around in my pocket with a plastic shell that doesn’t cover the screen. So, naturally, the screen now has a small scratch on it, although you’d have to look carefully to see it. I figured I’d try one of the more serious “plastic film” protectors, Bodyguardz; applying it is a non-trivial operation, and it requires a day to dry.
3pm: I’m just leaving the Bay Point station for the return trip. Some of this trip has been fairly pretty; most of it’s above-ground, through the hills northeast of Oakland. While some of the path literally follows the highway, as I’m usually driving the highway I don’t get quite the viewing opportunity that I’m getting this time. I’m going to risk getting off at Rockridge or possibly Orinda; I say “risk” because I don’t have any idea what I’m likely to be charged for this trip. Technically, my start and end stations are Millbrae and Rockridge (or Orinda), but I’ve taken much longer to make that trip than I should have, and I don’t know if that will make the fare computer soggy and hard to light. Rockridge is a funky neighborhood in Oakland with an upscale shopping/dining district; Orinda is a smaller town I honestly don’t know a whole lot about, even though I’m positive I’ve driven through—or past—it a couple times. It’s a new place to explore, although I could easily find that I don’t have much to do there other than turn around and go back to Rockridge.
5pm: I am in Spasso, a little cafe somewhere in the Rockridge neighborhood. It’s the first place with free wifi I’ve found on this excursion.
I did actually debark in Orinda and wandered around a bit, and while I found some interesting dinner restaurants (possibly), there wasn’t a comfortable place to just camp out for a while. So I hopped back on and rode to the next stop: here. I walked down to the Bittersweet Cafe first to get hot chocolate, then back up, noting a few interesting restaurants along the way. Bittersweet also sells their own blend of coffee from Blue Bottle, so I’m returning with that.
Spasso, to be honest, really isn’t that comfortable, at least in the chair I’ve chosen. It’s clearly a college hangout. I feel decidedly old sitting here, although I’m hidden behind a laptop like 90% of the rest of the clientele. The coffee is acceptable, but just that. This is a good neighborhood joint, but not a place to go out of your way for, I think.
So. Am I going to actually stop at one of the places here for dinner? Truth to tell, I don’t know. I’m dressed in a T-shirt and jeans and the jeans have a hole in the knee, which makes me feel somewhat underdressed for anything that isn’t, shall we say, extremely casual. And, for that matter, I’m still full of burrito, and I don’t plan to hang around Spasso another hour until a proper dinner time. While I’m tempted, the better part of valor might be just going on home and getting something light. Nonetheless, I think I do want to come back for À Côté, which looks like it has a nice French/Mediterranean vibe with remarkably good prices.
In any case, I’m going to start wrapping things up here, now that I’ve finished the acceptable-but-not-great cappuccino, and head back to the BART station.