Berkeley, California. (The question––would I spend more time in San Francisco or combine it with Berkeley? I love San Francisco, but if you have a week, I would suggest beginning or ending with a couple of days in Berkeley.) Berkeley has museums, film archives, planetariums and observatories. I can tell you what my journal says I did on my first trip to Berkeley.
Just outside Berkeley, there is a bay where you can walk around the marina. Coming from San Francisco, I found that walk a good way to switch gears and get ready to appreciate Berkeley on its own terms rather than comparing everything with San Francisco. Once I found my lodging, I set out for the university campus. It’s nice but nothing to write home about.
The art museum at the University of California at Berkeley had a wonderful exhibit on surrealism; Max Ernst once again stood out among the rest. (His art always does for me. Surrealism always taunts me. Is it erotica, macabre, or work overdone or not thought out? My reaction swings from piqued curiosity to glimpsed enlightenment to nausea. I know I like it.)
The University’s museum of anthropology is a bit disappointing. But if you like textiles, it had a big display of rugs. Back in the touristy streets, I flowed with the crowds and poked about street market stalls. I dined at Larry Blake’s looking out a huge window onto Textile Street. Among the rest of the action, sidewalk vendors picked up for the day, long haired men rushed by, and people held signs for their candidate. It was a relaxing meal despite all.
Then I returned to the art museum. In its basement was the Pacific Film Archives. Its outer hall was lined with huge, colorful advertisements of mostly French movies. After short films from 1909, was a silent movie (Jon Mirsalis’ The Unknown, featured Joan Crawford) accompanied by a live pianist. The circus owner’s daughter had a phobia of men’s arms and the instigator of the film (a killer with two thumbs) wore his arms bound up so that he appeared to have no arms. I recommend it.
The next morning, the local restaurant served breakfast at a communal table. After that local conversation, I moved to the lawn by the campus campanile to read the local newspaper. Then, I set off in my car to find the Lawrence Hall of Science. It was atop a steep hill with gorgeous views of the bay. Highlights included an exhibit on eyes, a quiz on earthquakes, and a live presentation on wild animals, featuring a Bald Eagle, a Timber Wolf and a California Brown Bear. (Science is a broad category.) Lastly, I toured the botanical gardens halfway down the hill. A variety of plants are on display, including all sorts of cactus.
Berkeley was a worthwhile trip. —journal from 1990.
Buy it. Read it. Let me know what you think.