Alameda is a secret little island off of Oakland. Getting to it is a bit like trying to find the mythological Avalon. Once you're there it feels like you've stepped back in time to the town that slept through the 1960s-2000 and is just arriving, somehow, at 2008.
I love Alameda and have always wanted to live there. My favorite yoga studio is there - Alameda Yoga Station which is a huge selling point. So to give it a try before committing I'm renting a room in my friends Stacey and Stefan's house for a couple of months. They live in an Easter Egg colored Victorian. The house is fantastically situated two blocks from the beach, Trader Joe's and cute shops. The big challenge will be the commute into San Francisco. Although it is close to BART the station is not walkable. A cross-bay commuter bus runs and so does a ferry to San Francisco, plus the famous casual carpool picks up just a few blocks away.
My second day back in the area I recruited my friends David and Rachel to drive me around Alameda. As we approached the beach the skyline was filled with parasailers and as we got closer to the shore we were blown away by the number of people biking, roller blading, running, walking and sunbathing. "This is Alameda?!?" asked David and Rachel. Yes! - see why I want to live there?