Travel Thursday: Berkeley, Calif.

13 May

Instead of studying for my last final, I thought I’d bring the writing back to my blog and mention some of the must-see things about Berkeley, (should you ever find yourselves there without me). I’ve tried to do a lot in the Bay Area during my 4 years here – but in terms of Berkeley in general, here are some of my musts:

* Run the Firetrail over-looking campus: It’s a tough climb but it has an amazing view of the Bay (and you don’t even have to go all the way to the top to get there). I remember an old OPHS classmate telling me about it when I came to check Cal out senior year, and it’s been something I’ve done all four years. Shout-out to my friend Hannes who has run it with me most recently for putting up with my out-of-shape pitiful attempt at running.
* Berkeley Rose Garden: another great place to run, but this time of year it’s totally worth it to take a camera and just enjoy the museum-like rose display, as well as a stunning view of the SF Bay. It’s on Berkeley’s Northside (helloooo grad students) on Euclid.
* Museums: If you’re down to embrace your inner nerd, check out the Lawrence Hall of Science. My aunt and uncle took my brother and I there when we were younger (somewhere there is a great picture of us playing on the double helix in front of the museum). Another not-so-hidden Berkeley gem is the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA). Just today I went and studied on an exhibit that also serves as a study space (Thom Faulder’s BAMscape). I’ve been able to check out a few of their exhibits over these 4 years, and considering entry is always free for Cal students, it’s definitely worth stopping in.
*Stroll down College and Telegraph Aves. These Berkeley landmarks could not be more different. College’s super-cute shops (like the delectable and uber-creative ice cream at Ici) have provided me with an oft-needed escape from the parts of the city that are a little rougher around the edges. The fresh fruit and flower stands that appear in the afternoon have an element of European flair about them, and the families and Berkeley locals who flock here have always made me feel worlds away from blue books and office hours. Telegraph Ave., on the other hand, is what makes Berkeley, Berkeley. Lined with tie-dye T-shirt sellers and bums we all know and recognize (Hello girls, good morning! and Happy Happy Man, to name a couple) and delicious (though mildly-sketch) eateries like Blondie’s is a truly bustling part of Berkeley that must not be ignored.
*If you’re looking for a celebratory beer, my personal favorites are Bear’s Lair (which has been on-campus since 1962!) for Beat the Clock Friday Specials and Raleigh’s if you’re in the mood for a traditional college-bar type feel. To get the full college experience, a trek to Kip’s would be in order – but don’t go there before midnight and don’t start the night there. A Thursday ritual involves heading to Shattuck’s Triple Rock bar for some Monkey Head beer. I remember hearing my friend Annie (who is a year older than me) rave about Triple Rock a couple of years ago and being envious that she got to see our awesome GSI in a social setting. For real.
*Coffee: I guess if I come out of college only being addicted to this, I’ve won. Right? Numerous studies show a cup (or more) a day is good for you – and however one-sided these might be, I’m going with it. If you’ve stumbled upon my blog before, you know I love love love I-House’s coffee (some Alpha Chi’s have dubbed it “liquid crack”). Caffe Strada near campus is a popular spot, but they’re cash only and I’m frankly not as down. I’ve also enjoyed the on-campus cafe’s FSM (Free Speech Movement) as well as the occasional trek to San Francisco’s Ferry Building for some Blue Bottle coffee.

*Zachary’s: Literally the best pizza ever. I mean, I’ve never been to Chicago, but if the pizza there can rival this, I may have found my new favorite city. Thank you again to my aunt and uncle for taking me here when I was younger!
*Asian Ghetto: Probably not politically correct, but yes, Berkeley has an eatery on Southside affectionately known as the “Asian Ghetto.” Most of the food is of Asian origin (Korean, Thai, Japapense, Chinese) and the area is often frequented by “street performers” once the sun goes down. My favs here include Gypsy’s (decidedly non-Asian, but they make a mean calzone) and Thai Basil’s pad thai.
*Gourmet Ghetto: Basically the exact opposite of the Asian Ghetto. This is on Berkeley’s northside and is home to Alice Water’s Chez Panisse. More affordable must-eats include Cheeseboard (which serves one truly amazing pizza daily) and Cesar for some tapas or paella.
*Miscellaneous: Berkeley is probably under-rated for all of the amazing food it offers. In the past 4 years, I’ve had a variety of fabulous ethnic foods including Brazilian, Mediterranean, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, Mexican, etc.
Finally, as my time here is drawing to a close, I’ve been thinking about a few signs you’ve been in Berkeley for 4 years…
-You drop “hella” into conversation freely and effortlessly, and not for attention.
– You know that AnonCon and the naked run are inevitable Finals Week events.
– You know the difference between “the stacks” and “Sacks” and have studied at both places.
– You learned the Cal Drinking Song and correct people who sing it incorrectly (c’mon, it’s the ROTTERDAM Dutch).
-You’ve avoided election week at all costs – as well as the post-voting drama that inevitably comes with it .
– You’ve gotten units for things like wine tasting and watching episodes of The Simpson’s. Thank you, De-Cal program.
– You’ve learned about Marx in at least 3 classes. 5+ if you’re in L&S.
-Finally, you’ve learned a lot – both inside and outside the campus’ boundaries.
While Berkeley is a quintessential college town, it’s diverse offerings make it a popular stopping point for any visitor to the Bay Area. And for the past four years, I’ve been able to make it my home. 🙂

5 Responses to “Travel Thursday: Berkeley, Calif.”

  1. Lily Allyn Gordon May 13, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

    Ahaha Rotterdam Dutch!!!

  2. KMcGuirk May 14, 2010 at 12:04 am #

    Soooooo legit. Completely agree with the dining and drinking choices! ….and the liquid crack.

  3. Steve May 14, 2010 at 1:08 am #

    Great post, but I wanted a shout-out to Jupiter! And rampaging post-basketball rioters on Telegraph!

  4. Gillian May 14, 2010 at 2:38 am #

    hahahaha Dad you LOVEEEE Jupiter! I’ll have to do a post solely on it some day, since you’re one of 5 loyal readers, lol

  5. Ilana May 14, 2010 at 3:43 am #

    ANONCON hahahaah omg love

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