Whenever I travel, I can’t help but think about how the cities I’m visiting are similar or different to Oakland. I’m usually part nostalgic for Oakland (I can’t help myself from telling everyone I meet how great Oakland is), but I also reflect on how Oakland can improve.
On my trip last week to Washington, DC and College Park, MD, I ran into several things that I wish I could have brought back with me to Oakland:
- Taxi Service!: You already know how much taxi service sucks in Oakland. I’m not suggesting that we could ever support as robust a service as is available in DC proper, but even the suburbs beat us. I took cabs several times while in College Park. At the Metro station, there was always a cab (or several) waiting. I didn’t run into any other taxi stands, but whenever I called for a cab, one arrived within 5-15 minutes, no matter the time of day.
- Bar Pilar: There’s a lot of excellent food in DC, but Bar Pilar is my new favorite place to grab a drink and something to eat. Whether you’re looking for a can of Tecate or a shot of Patron, this is the place to go. The food menu consists almost exclusively of small plates, which showcase seasonal produce and mostly organic, local ingredients. Everything we ate was excellent – butternut squash soup, roasted potatoes with garlic aoli, a mix of mushrooms with leeks, honey glazed carrots, and cauliflower in a creamy sauce (and my companions said the steak and fish were yummy too). But the atmosphere is what had me going on and on about how I wanted to clone this restaurant, add a bit of Oakland style, and bring it across country with me. Take a look for yourself:
- The Dupont Current: I picked up this local paper and was thoroughly impressed by it. Apparently, it’s one member of a family of four local DC papers that together cover the western half of the city. The paper covered local political and community issues in depth, including several detailed articles on commercial and residential development projects, a front page piece about a bicycle safety bill, and several brief commentaries on local schools. Though we have several print publications in Oakland, I don’t feel like any of them do this good a job covering local political issues. Oh well – at least we have lots of great blogs to keep us updated.
- Bus Frequency: I’m by no means an expert on DC bus schedules, but my overall experience has been that they arrive frequently and often on time. The 42 is the line I take most often, from my boss’s apartment in Mt. Pleasant to my office on M Street. I’ve never waited longer than 2 minutes (it comes every 5 minutes!), and it drops me off less than a block from my destination. I don’t think we’ll ever attain this kind of bus frequency in Oakland until Bus Rapid Transit is implemented.
I’m guessing most people will be traveling this week for Thanksgiving so while you’re out and about around the country, take a moment to think about what you’d like to bring back to Oakland (or what you hope will never, ever come to Oakland) and feel free to share those thoughts here in the comment section.