As I wrote in our guide to San Francisco, I went to undergrad in the Bay Area, so we couldn’t take a trip to San Francisco without visiting my alma mater-UC Berkeley. After nearly ten years of talking about Berkeley to Albert, I finally got the chance to show him the campus and some, unfortunately not all of my favorite parts of the city.
Downtown Berkeley is a short (20 minute) BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) ride from downtown San Francisco. BART was a little more run down than I remembered, but with regular service throughout the Bay Area, including both airports, it still scored higher than the DC metro in my book. As a metro-dependent Washingtonian, I find myself constantly comparing public transportation systems to DC’s.
We didn’t have long so as soon as we arrived at the downtown Berkeley BART station we headed straight to campus. Although some things had changed, most notably lower Sproul Plaza, everything else seemed just as it was. We strolled through Sather Gate, rode up to the top of Campanile for spectacular views of San Francisco, and finished the tour with some beers at the new, well new to me, Bear’s Lair.
We then walked up Euclid out the East Gate past the first place I lived in Berkeley to the Berkeley Rose Garden to check out some more amazing views. They were doing some work while we were there but with such a beautiful garden and sweeping views of San Francisco we almost didn’t even notice. We then made our way back into town and toward the second place I lived, near the North Berkeley BART station on our way to one of the few breweries in Berkeley.
We walked by the Gourmet Ghetto where the famous Chez Panisse and Cheese Board Pizza are located. Had we not already had dinner plans in San Francisco we would have definitely eaten at either because both are exactly what Backpacking with the Bonds is all about. Chez Panisse is a world renowned restaurant that only uses seasonal, local, organic ingredients. Cheese Board Pizza, one of two worker-owned businesses of the Cheese Board Collective, makes quite possibly the best pizza I’ve ever had. The make only one type of vegetarian pizza a day, using fresh, local, and seasonable products. We’ll have to check both out next time we’re in town-let’s just hope it’s not another ten years!
Our last stop in Berkeley was Fieldwork Brewing Company. Located on the outskirts of the city it was a little too far for us to walk to so we took a Lyft (about a 7 minute car ride from the North Berkeley BART station) and it was definitely worth the trip. The taproom, one of five of theirs in northern California, was a big, open space with indoor and outdoor seating and a wide selection of beer.
Without question we each got flights (4 tasters each) but my hands down favorite was the Jelly Packet, a tart breakfast ale. This was a combination I’d not had before (or since) and loved it so much we stayed longer than anticipated to have a few. Good thing they also serve food!
Our half day in Berkeley barely touched the surface of what the city has to offer. If you’re going to the Bay area I recommend at least a full day in Berkeley with time for dining at Chez Panisse, the Cheese Board or any of the other great restaurants in the city, oh and of course a beer or two at Fieldwork.
All Photography by Albert & Carrie Bond
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