Day two of our three-day Bay Area jaunt was dedicated to Berkeley.
Mark had to drop off proof of citizenship to UC-Berkeley admissions and met with staff and faculty at the journalism department. Later in the day, he sat in on a three-hour history of documentary class led by Emmy Award winner and MacArthur Fellow Jon Else. (This is the caliber of people he will be learning from!)
Beforehand, we had breakfast in downtown Berkeley at La Note , a cute little French provincial restaurant that is known for its brunches. I had the toasted cinnamon brioche with lavender honey (ooh-la-la) and a side of bacon, and Mark had the oeuf a la coque (two three-minute eggs served with dipping strips of bread). Both were delicious, but I think mine was better (I usually do).
We ate in near silence (I guess we’re in danger of becoming one those couples) as we eavesdropped on some students’ conversation and marveled at the fact that so many people were having such a leisurely brunch at 10 a.m. on a Monday. Lucky ducks.
After breakfast, we walked around the Berkeley campus, which is absolutely gorgeous — lush and stately at once.
North Gate Hall, which houses the Graduate School of Journalism, is an old shingle-style building affectionately referred to as “the Ark” because of its appearance. In comparison to the grandiose stone and marble structures that dot the campus, the building looks much more rustic. I dug it.
It’s a bit of a maze inside, but offers an abundance of natural light and a really nice courtyard where students can work or just hang out. For Mark, this will be like a second home for the next two years. For me, it will be like a mistress who commands all the attention I’m used to having.
Whatever. I guess I can share for two years. Higher education, eh?
After the campus tour, we meandered through the hilly neighborhood north of the school. We fell in love with the views, the greenery, and all the shingle-style homes. If we can find a rental unit in our price range around here, it would be an ideal area for us to settle — safe, close to campus, and walking distance to downtown Berkeley as well as numerous parks.
Hopefully, some nice older couple will take pity on a struggling grad student and his young bride and offer us a sweet deal on an in-law suite.
Preferably with hardwood floors.
And a dishwasher.
And a parking spot.
(We can dream, right?)
While looking for the Berkeley Rose Garden, we happened upon the Rose Walk first. It’s basically a sidewalk that runs up a hill through the courtyard of a number of homes — a glorified (and quite pretty) alley, if you will.
The homes in this area are pretty big and can sell for $1 million or more. So it was kinda funny to see a sign hanging in the window of one of these residences that read: “THE 99% LIVE HERE”. (They must have been referring to “the help.” Too bad we didn’t snap a photo.)
We were warned by our host and a few other acquaintances that Berkeley locals (not to be confused with students) are all a bunch of self-righteous yippies who look down on anyone who eats gluten and have signs on their lawns declaring their yards “Nuclear-Free Zones.”
Whatever. We didn’t meet any of those people, but the Occupy sign gave us a sneak peak at what we could expect.
After the Rose Walk, we trudged on just another block to the Berkeley Rose Garden, which is free to the public and features more than 100 varieties of roses.
It also offers stunning views of the San Francisco Bay. Wowza.
After our walk in the hills, we headed to the Gourmet Ghetto (hands down the most un-ghettoey ghetto I’ve ever seen), hoping to grab lunch at Chez Panisse (or at least the cafe). We were rebuffed by a sign outside that said a fire had ravaged the restaurant and it would be closed for the foreseeable future. What a bummer!
Instead, we ducked into the Imperial Tea Court for some hand-pulled noodles and dim sum. Good choice! (And, apparently, they offer 15% off for Cal students, so we’ll be heading back there in the fall.)
After lunch, Mark headed to the aforementioned documentary class, and I went to Analog Books where I picked up Dreaming in Cuban. I got through about 20 pages over coffee at the Northside Cafe but was too distracted by the hustle and bustle of student life to get engrossed.
We grabbed a few beers at Jupiter before catching a bus back to our apartment, where we passed out from exhaustion once more, in hopes of getting rested for the next day in San Francisco.
More on that to come…