Then my baby brother stayed with me for 3 nights. He spent one day in the city and 2 with me...and BOTH of those days we checked out the Niles district of Fremont (California). Gosh, what a wonderful tiny spot on the map it is...but packed with siteseeing opportunities.
I've visited often because my favorite bead shop is there. Normally, that's my only stop, but I had to park in a different location recently and discovered The Nile Cafe. A fun, sort of divey place in an old building with a completely unique menu and amazing art all over the walls and ceiling. I turned my husband onto it the following weekend so that we could enjoy breakfast under the canopy out front that covers the pink upholstered bistro chairs and mosaic topped tables. Ah, the capuccino was beautifully frothy.
Knowing my brother would be visiting I knew I had to take him there but didn't know much about that part of town so I got online and learned that a silent movie company had planted itself in the area in 1912 and 2 years later signed on Charlie Chaplin as their star. Two years after THAT, Chaplin wanted waaaaay too much money and the big movie companies were coming into play and crushed this tiny one, so it closed down.
I'm very impressed that for only a 4 year period of history, this town held onto it and built upon it. Niles only has one long street with shops mainly on one side and maybe half of them are antique shops. The other fun finds were Tyme for Tea shop where you can have afternoon tea at beautifully draped tables under chandeliers....Balloons to Go-Go, filled with more costumes and masks than I've ever seen and the best surprise of all, Corrie Glass...a lampwork studio and shop!
I talked with Wayne Corrie about his upcoming lampwork class and said I didn't want to learn how to torch beads but after 3 years working with lampwork beads I still haven't seen a torch in action unless it was in a video...he graciously offered to let me watch his class from the other side of the protective glass next month...woohoo! I particularly liked his rectangular beads as that is not a very common shape.
Last but not least, was the only market in town, Mr. Mikey's Country Store which has every snack you might want along with a small fresh produce section, fresh deli and YUMMY homemade tamales...fresh daily, slurp!
Bro and I had fun walking the streets behind main street where dozens of old homes are located...and not a one of them is modern (well, there IS one, but only one). Every home looks the way it probably did when built...only paint jobs are fresh and I'm sure the interiors are modernized, but there must be some deal a homeowner has to agree upon so that no modern remodeling is performed on the exterior other than paint.
This provides a feeling of being completely away from modern life and immersed in an era that you'd have thought no longer exists....very clever. We discovered a small park way in the back of the homes...very private, not large, and completely shaded...the perfect spot for me to visit again soon with my sketch book...very inspirational.
If you are in the east bay area, and anywhere near Fremont, I highly recommend that if you want to disappear for a few hours, that you do it in Niles!