Sunday, January 4, 2009

Is it really post-worthy? Bel Air Plaza, Napa -- my new favorite shopping center

My friend Trixie and I had a three-hour yoga workshop in Calistoga on January 3rd. On our way back we stopped in an absolute dream of a shopping center - so amazing that we both thought we should immediately consider moving to Napa! For a certain demographic, clearly ours, this shopping center represented heaven on earth. And, of course, since it was heaven, there was no parking hassle.

Imagine if you will, all in one place:

Whole Foods
Trader Joe's
Cost Plus
Copperfield Books
+ Pharmaca across the street

and a bunch of other stuff, like Orchard Supply and a small bath and body store (Sumbody, delicious!!). I don't know about you but that's most of the stores I either frequent regularly or love all in one place. The very idea of them all being next to each other was almost too much to believe.

And the Whole Food wasn't just any old Whole Foods. It put our puny, crowded, engineered-by-idiots Marin stores to shame. Seriously, we walked around the Whole Foods completely dumb-struck - it was huge. The prepared food section was easily the size of half of the San Rafael Whole Foods, and included a taqueria where they'd build a burrito or tacos in front of your eyes, a gelato bar, a huge salad bar and hot foods too including 15 soups and stews. They also have a wine bar, and what feels like the contents of an entire Elephant Pharmacy under the same roof. Unbelievable. And enough room in the aisles for 4 carts!!!!! It was the first time I've been in a Whole Foods in a long time and not had the urge to kick someone - there was actually enough room to move around in. And no hassle of trying to park in a minuscule lot packed with Volvo SUVs, either... Like I said, heaven.

Of course I realize that this is entirely ridiculous for lots of reasons, not least of which is that this experience followed a three-hour yoga workshop. The irony of going from a long practice dedicated to the happiness of all beings, to a goofy epiphany of luxe eco-yuppie shopping is not at all lost on me. But maybe that workshop is part of the reason why we walked around feeling like we were visiting from another planet, just stunned at how spacious everything was, how pretty, how thoughtful, with plenty of space to breathe. How wonderful, how ease-filled it felt compared to the stress and tight quarters of our usual experience.

I'm not saying that I will regularly drive up there just to take advantage of all of those stores in one place. That would be excessive, even in the Prius. But it is really nice to know that somewhere that combination exists, and with all that room. Just knowing it's there -- little shining possibility -- that's enough.

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