Walnut Creek

The heart of every town is the mainstreet shopping area. In Reykjavík, this shopping district is not on "Aðalstræti" (Main Street), but rather on Laugavegar (Bath Way).

Walnut Creek, CA, where I now live, has its shopping district on its literal Main Street, actually two distinct shopping areas along North and South Main Street, and the adjoining side-streets. One is a cozy, small scale, shopping district with independent shops and restaurants occupying little wooden buildings along oak lined streets. It is an old shopping area, one that has grown up slowly over time, a lot like Laugavegar. It was here when I was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, and for decades before that.

On the other side of Mount Diablo Boulevard, still along Main Street (but this time South Main instead of North Main), is another shopping area. It is new and huge and full of all the high-end big chains. Neiman Marcus is moving in soon, Macy's is there now, Sur la Table, PF Changs, etc. Very nice, high quality, if a bit pricey, chains in a well designed four or five block wide area. There are fountains and sculptures and brick walkways, all very well done.

These two shopping areas each offer their charms, but I must say I prefer the old Walnut Creek on North Main Street. It is interesting without being intimidating, welcoming without one feeling pressured to buy, fashionable without one feeling that one's clothes are never good enough. Yeah, I like the shopping district I knew from my undergraduate days, maybe because it also reminds me a bit of Iceland.


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