8 Things I'm Loving About Cedar Rapids So Far

After uprooting from Ames, staying in Williamsburg while I apartment searched, and then officially relocating to Cedar Rapids, I've been living in my new place for over a month and a half now. With moving in, a couple weddings, and several jaunts out of town, it's been a busy summer. On the weekends I've actually spent in my new town, I've tried to get as acquainted with the town as possible. And I'm definitely liking it here. :)

Clockwise from top left: My living, my hallway, my bedroom, a photo of my apartment's house circa 1898.
1. My apartment.
I've said it before and I'm saying it again. I lucked out with finding this gem of a space to call my home sweet apartment. Occupying part of the second floor of huge Victorian house in a lovely residential neighborhood, I love driving down the old brick roads and up to my very own place each day after work. I'm in love with the apartment's historical charm, original hardwood floors, wood trim, radiators, and clawfoot bathtub. And I'm smitten with all the old house quirks: creaking floorboards and a window in a closet. I couldn't have found a better match. And I'm steadily making decorating progress. 

Clockwise from top left: Czech Village antiques, bridge over the Cedar River, me in the Czech village, Czech museum.
2. The Czech Village
Antique shops bursting with reasonably priced decor, vintage jewelry, pretty glassware, German steins, and interesting knick knacks. A rambling museum of Czechoslovakian art. Prague-inspired bridges over the river. Quiet little bars and pubs. Strolling through the charming, historical Czech Village has become one of my favorite Saturday morning past-times. The neighborhood was all but destroyed during the Great Flood of 2008 when the river put most of the buildings under at least eight feet of water. Some business owners packed up and left while others stuck around to rebuild. 

Clockwise from top left: Sykora Bakery interior, kolaches, Sykora Bakery exterior, pastry counter and kolaches galore.
3. Sykora Bakery
Speaking of the Czech Village and those that stuck around, this hot spot calls for a spot on the list that's all its own. Sykora Bakery serves up tasty treats called kolaches (among dozens of other pastries). The pastries have a dense, doughnut-like texture without being too sweet like a doughnut. They come with a dollop of deliciousness in the center: poppy seed filling, cream cheese, or various fruits like cherry, apricot, or raspberry. Yumm. The bakery is so sweet and quaint. Plus, there's a small gift and book shop down in the basement.

Clockwise from top left: NewBo City Market, beers at Parlor City, New Bohemian district, antique store.
4. The New Bohemian District
After moseying leisurely through the Czech Village, I like hopping over the bridge to the bustling New Bohemian District. Food and drink vendors fill NewBo City Market, making it a perfect spot to grab lunch: gyros, soul food, Russian cuisine, and Chinese are just some of the stands I can recall right away. Iowa wine and craft beer are available. Homemade noodles honey sticks, and farm fresh veggies can also be purchased. The streets of this main street district are lined with coffee houses, antique stores, a book shop, and several bars and pubs. A couple beers is a great way to follow up lunch and antiquing. 

Clockwise from top left: Us in the Czech village, Millstream Beer and Brats fest, eating kolaches at Sykora.
5. Living closer to this guy.
In the grand scheme of things, two hours wasn't a terrible long-distance commute for the couple months we were dating while I was in Ames. But all that driving time every weekend did cut into our time and wallets. (Eeek! Gas prices!) It's sooo very nice to cut that commute in half and live a mere forty minutes from my favorite fellow. We spend less weekend time driving and more time having fun. Whether we're exploring the Corridor (Cedar Rapids / Coralville / Iowa City) or relaxing in the Amana Colonies, or just hanging out at one of our places playing cribbage, trying new beers, and cooking up a delicious meal... it's been a real treat to spend time together.

Clockwise from top left: The lake at my workplace, my Meetup group, Cedar Rapids, me!
6. My job.
I really enjoy my job as a web content writer. When I roll out of bed bright and early each morning, I never feel that "Ugh, I gotta go to work" type of dread. I walk in happy and leave happy. The place has a great atmosphere and a nice lake at the back of the building. (That's the lake up there in the top left photo.) Having great co-workers and making friends is always a bonus, too. I'm so glad that I made the decision to take a risk and relocate here for this job and feel really grateful to have found a position that suits me well.

7. My Meetup group.
If you haven't heard of Meetup.com yet, you should. Head over, check it out, and sign up. I signed up to meet new people and make new friends in this brand new city where I know no one. I joined a dinner and drinks group for twenty- and thirty-somethings in the the area and have attended two events so far. The experience has been awesome. I love meeting so many awesome young people and getting to know them. Both meetups have been full of great people and great conversation - as well as some great food and great beer!

8. The city's renaissance.
Des Moines seems to be all the rage right now as Iowa's capitol city rises to new heights of hipness. And while there's a lot to love about Des Moines, I'm quite happy to be freshly transplanted into the state's second largest city. And furthermore, becoming part of the Corridor. I like the fresh perspective out here in Eastern Iowa. Cedar Rapids is turning out to be great and it doesn't hurt to be a short drive from Iowa City, the Amanas, and other nearby cities. I've heard a few people complain that Cedar Rapids focuses all the city's energy on giving young families things to do while ignoring the young professionals. I don't think that's the case. I often think that it's in the hands of the young professionals to create those things to do. It's been a rough road to recovery after the devastating Floods of 2008, but I see signs everywhere of this city's creative, eclectic vitality and vivacity. There's unique stuff going on here. From the microbreweries and cool coffeehouses to the antique stores and shop that sells MidCentury Modern furniture and decor. 

I have what seems like an endless to-do list of other things I want to experience here in Cedar Rapids and the rest of the Corridor. A tour of the historic mansion Brucemore... and a picnic on the front lawn. Seeing (and possibly acting in) some plays at Theatre Cedar Rapids. A tour of sampling at Third Base Brewery. Old cemeteries. Antique shops and thrift stores. Parks on the river. The art museum. And that's all stuff in Cedar Rapids... not even including my to-do list that stretches to Iowa City and the Amanas.

So rest assured that I'll be giving you blog tour of the rest of the Corridor as I get around to checking it out. 

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