Welcome to My Place . . . Berkeley, California

Maedbh King recommends the sights to see, food to eat and things to buy

Maedbh King is studying in Berkeley and enjoying the outdoors life, good food and sense of history

Maedbh King is studying in Berkeley and enjoying the outdoors life, good food and sense of history

 

Maedbh King is originally from Deansgrange in Dublin. She did a degree in psychology at Trinity College Dublin, before moving to Berkeley to start a PhD in cognitive neuroscience at the University of California. She will be there for the next five years. 

A view of Berkeley and the Bay Area from the Sather Tower, a campanile at the centre of the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. Photograph: iStock
A view of Berkeley and the Bay Area from the Sather Tower, a campanile at the centre of the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. Photograph: iStock

Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit Berkeley?

Berkeley is a relatively small city (population 112,000) situated on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in northern California. Interestingly, it has ties to Ireland as its namesake is the 18th-century philosopher, George Berkeley. Berkeley is best known for the world-renowned University of California, Berkeley, and for being very politically liberal.

When people visit, I usually first bring them to the UC Berkeley campus as it is quite beautiful. There is a campanile at the centre of the campus with stunning views of San Francisco downtown and the Golden Gate Bridge. We’ll then stroll under Sather Gate and through Sproul Plaza ,where there are usually hoards of undergraduate students attempting to entice unsuspecting passersby into various advocacy groups or student organisations.

The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money, are ...

One of the main upsides to living in the Bay area is that there is a strong outdoors culture, which is mostly facilitated by the nearby access to regional parks. One of the most enjoyable ways to spend a Saturday is to hike in Tilden national park, which is only a short bus ride from downtown Berkeley. There are so many trails to explore and occasionally you might see some wildcats (maybe even a mountain lion).

Another great trip is a visit to the Lawrence Hall of Science, a great museum with a planetarium and hands-on exhibits. It’s based high up in the Berkeley hills so you get amazing views of the Bay.

Finally, I would highly recommend a stroll through Redwood Grove at the UC Berkeley Botanical garden, which also houses one of the most diverse plant collections in the US.

The Cheese Board pizza restaurant in Berkeley, California. Photograph: Getty Images
The Cheese Board pizza restaurant in Berkeley, California. Photograph: Getty Images

Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a sense of Berkeley?

For food, I take visitors to Cheese Board, which is located in the “Gourmet Ghetto” district of Berkeley. At Cheese Board, they make one type of pizza and it changes day t -day. The tri-tip sandwich from Brazil Cafe is also really delicious.

Where is the best place to get a sense of Berkeley’s place in history?

To get a real sense of Berkeley, I would recommend a walk down Telegraph Avenue (which extends all the way to downtown Oakland). It is a symbol of the counterculture of the 1960s and you’ll be sure to find a diversity of people (panhandlers, students and so on) as you stroll past eclectic bookshops, and reasonably priced eateries. Telegraph Avenue is also home to one of the three Amoeba record stores (the other two are in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, and Hollywood in LA).

What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Berkeley?

There are many great thrift shops in Berkeley, so it’s a great place to source good quality clothes for a reasonable price. Otherwise, you can buy tie-dye clothes (they’re everywhere), records from Amoeba, or patchouli from the street vendors along Telegraph.

If you’d like to share your little black book of places to visit where you live, please email your answers to the five questions above to abroad@irishtimes.com, including a brief description of what you do there and a photograph of yourself. We’d love to hear from you.

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