November 6, 2006 4:47 PM
There are a million things I love about this quirky little city, but after a couple of years I've narrowed down some of the best for you. I'm sure in the next two years I'll find even more tidbits...
When I need to study, nothing beats Cafe Strada's outdoor tables or FSM's cozy interior. I love that you can grab some tea or a snack and get your reading done at the same time, and the white noise of a little coffee shop somehow helps me focus. Tip: get a table next to a heating lamp at Strada if you're going to be there for a few hours! I also love the North Reading Room in Doe Library for some hardcore, no distractions, nose-to-the-pages studying action. Anything to get me away from my friends or my apartment where I can't seem to ever get any work done!
I love to walk around and go for day-hikes, and anyone who has been to the Berkeley hills knows that there is no shortage of awesome sights. I recommend the Fire Trail (just east of the Strawberry Canyon pool, trail head at the parking lot) for anyone looking for a relatively easy day-hike in the Canyon with a sweet view on top. It's about 5 miles round-trip and good for releasing some energy on a sunny day. The Botanical Gardens are also really close (and free with your Student ID!), and Tilden Park is also a must. You can swim in Lake Anza, ride a carousel, hike the trails, or even hit a bucket of golf balls there. Be warned though, it's kind of a long walk. I recommend cruising up there on your bike.
As far as good eats go, man does Berkeley have just about every other place I've been to beat. I have a huge running list of tasy places, but here are some of my favorites: Crepevine for breakfast or lunch (on College Ave, by Rockridge BART) has the tastiest scrambles and burgers, The Thai House (Channing and Telegraph) for my favorite type of food, Dara (on Northside) for amazing Laotian food in a cool atmosphere, Bacheeso's (on Dwight and San Pablo) for awesome Mediterranean/European brunch, and of course, the Cheeseboard (on North Shattuck) for the tasiest pizza place with the weirdest hours I've ever found. Whew! Not to mention Yogurt Park, Cafe Intermezzo, House of Curries... I think you get the point.
And lastly, some of the coolest things about Berkeley are its community events. You absolutely have to come out and have brunch at the Thai Temple (Sundays, Russell and MLK) at least one Sunday while you're here. It is always crazy busy and many of Berkeley's community members show up to eat some tasty thai and hang out and chat. Also, the Ashby Flea Market (weekends, Ashby and San Pablo) is always a fun experience to find all that eclectic stuff you didn't even know you were looking for. Critical Mass, an anti-war/oil bicycle protest, also happens once a month (you can check dates online) and is really awesome to take part in. There's always something going on in this crazy town... check out the Berkeley Daily Planet for a schedule of events sometime!
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