Locomotoring

Seven continents, seven seas, seven billion people and seven thousand good eats …

Palo Alto, A Joy of Exurbia

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Cakes at SAtura Bakery, Palo Alto, CA

Cakes at Satura Bakery, Palo Alto, CA

Aside from being one of the most expensive real estate areas in US that allows them to keep the riffraff out, Palo Alto is also the home of one the best universities in the world, the Stanford University.  Its campus, although not as beautiful as the old and dilapidated Berkeley, is home to a wonderful museum, The Cantor Arts Center. This museum comes together with the second largest Rodin collection in the world – an outdoor bronze sculpture garden and indoor collection of wax and terracotta pieces. Rodin was a bit of subversive artist in his times and was considered progenitor of modern sculpture, so now that we are in a modern world, his art reaches out to normal folks who are totally uneducated about mythologies and scriptures. Gates of Hell is a particularly awe inspiring piece that has nearly 200 individual sculptures, including a miniature Thinking Man. In this exurbia devoid of any public collections of great art, this museum is charming.

If you like shopping, window or otherwise, you can visit the Stanford Shopping Center. I am not much of a shopper, but I like this mall. It has an open architecture and their collection of seasonal potted plants are rather luxurious. I wouldn’t be surprised if your wallet is a (few) hundred dollars lighter after a visit to the Oakville Grocery, a specialty gourmet store from the Napa wine region. If you are up for a light meal, Schaub’s butchers sells one of the best sandwiches this side of San Francisco. Then there is a lot of drooling to be done at an array of high end stores such as Coach, Cartier, Bang & Olufsen, William-Sonoma and Tiffany.

Palo Alto Creamery offers excellent hamburgers and shakes. They have a restaurant in Stanford Mall as well but I prefer the downtown location. Besides being more authentic looking, it gives you an opportunity to explore the downtown afterwards. My favorite store on University Avenue is Design Within Reach, where I never pass up the chance of sitting my butt down on one of Eames’ comfortable lounge chair. Sitting on an Eames chair is closest to doing yoga – your spine and consequently your mind are in perfect harmony with the universe. The Borders book store on University Avenue located in what used to be the Varsity Theater is well worth the visit. They have preserved most of the original Art Deco architecture. The Spanish style courtyard is particularly charming on a sunny Californian afternoon.

One of the greatest joys of a visit to Palo Alto is watching a couple of back to back movies at the Stanford Theater. Thanks to the Hewlett Packard family, this movie theater is still playing old Hollywood classics, two for the price of one – comedies, musicals, mysteries, thrillers and romances, and sometimes tributes to foreign film directors. Almost everything at this theater is a reminder of the bygone days – old movie posters adorning the walls, quaint little restrooms, live organ music, and the fact that nearly everyone else in the audience saw the movies when they were children.

I usually follow my movies up with a late evening leisurely sojourn at Japanese Bakery, Satura, but you can do this any time of the day. The coffee is excellent and the desserts next only to the great Citizen Cake.

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  1. visit our blog to read about restaurants and local attractions in Palo Alto:
    http://paloaltohighlights.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/two-local-restaurants-for-health-and-quality/

    pahighlights

    May 12, 2010 at 10:38 am


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