Some people love living in quiet suburban neighborhoods. Hubby and I prefer the bustling city center of downtown San Jose. We have lived here going on seven years and love it more and more every day. We were both drawn to city living, where everything you need is only a few blocks walking distance in any given direction. Hubby walks only two blocks to where he takes the light rail train to work every day. If I unexpectedly run out of eggs midway through making breakfast I can pop over to any one of our downtown grocery stores and be back within ten minutes. Sometimes we are hit with the sudden desire to see a movie. So even if the movie starts in five minutes, we still have enough time to walk the one block to the theater and be in our seats before the lights go down.
Living in the heart of a city allows you to be spontaneous and impulsive. If you feel like having a night out, there’s no need to plan ahead. No need to get stuck in traffic or find parking. Just walk out your front door and see what’s going on.
Downtown San Jose is a small city center to live in. Our favorite part of downtown is between Santa Clara St. to San Carlos and from San Pedro St. up to 4th St. In these few blocks you could walk the Paseo de San Antonio and pop into Philz Coffee for a warm latte, have dinner at any one of the great restaurants that line the streets and then take in a movie at the downtown cinema or catch a live show at the San Jose Rep. You can enjoy drinks and live music in the luxurious lounge of the Fairmont hotel (on Friday nights they even have free dance lessons) and finish the night at the popular Bijan Bakery with a tangy lemon tart, my personal favorite from their menu, or head over to San Fernando St. and grab a designer cupcake at Love’s Cupcakes if that’s more your thing.
Hubby and I have lived in downtown San Jose for the last seven years. Our first place was a small but comfortable one-bedroom apartment which we enjoyed for years. One of our favorite things to do in downtown is taking an evening walk, working our way down to the theaters, restaurants and hotels and finishing up through the university campus.
Entering the campus is like setting foot in a world unto itself. The noise of downtown vanishes and the peace of the campus envelops you. As we stroll along the walkways we see the new modern library side by side with the oldest building on campus. The campus feels like our own very well manicured backyard.
My favorite part of the campus is the library. I am addicted to our downtown library. I must have checked out thousands of items by now. Books, audiobooks, movies, cookbooks and music books… I like to checkout items in bulk. I’ll head up to the third floor where all the cookbooks are kept and rather than coming away with the one I’m looking for, I invariably end up checking out whole a pile. I currently have one baking book, one Indian cookbook, a cooking DVD, a techniques book and of course, Julia Child’s How To Master the Art of French Cooking.
When I was first teaching music, I used to spend hours on the fifth floor with the endless rows of teaching curriculum and warm-up books. I felt as though the entire west section of the 5th floor was my personal book collection. It seemed like I was the only person who ever checked out these books and loved leaving my bookmarks in them only to find the book again months later and see it had never been moved.
The library is made almost entirely of glass. It’s one of the few libraries serving as both a public library and a university library. The result is an exciting combination of bustling students, exploring kids and parents and a serious sense of academics. It’s currently finals time on the San Jose State campus. So every small desk, every computer and every group work station is occupied with students.
When you walk through the large swinging glass doors, you don’t experience the typical hush associated with most libraries. Voices echo off glossy linoleum surfaces, friends chat over coffee at an indoor cafe and in the ground floor lobby, presentations and speeches can be heard. Even live music demonstrations are a typical sight in our library.
However, the top floors are an entirely different experience. These are the silent levels. Where the floors are covered in thick carpet and the desks are a bit larger and spread further apart. Serious focus goes on up here. If you need a quick study break there are wonderful panoramic views of the city up here. The west-facing wall is made entirely of glass, allowing for an expansive sight. It’s an enjoyable place to see the sunset before heading off to checkout new books.
For many people the peace and quite of suburban living trumps downtown dwelling. We on the other hand love all the activities going on around us. We love standing at our living room window and watching all the cars and people going by. Hubby, who grew up in the overwhelmingly crowded city of Bombay, loves the familiarity of tall buildings and people everywhere. For me, having grown up in a quiet suburban town right next to the beach, I always loved the idea of living in a busy city. The great thing about living in downtown San Jose is that it’s busy enough to feel like a city, yet still small and intimate enough to be walkable and cozy.
If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend taking some time to explore the town. There’s always something to do just around the corner.