12 Hours in Berkeley
Tucked away on the east side of the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley is a not so hidden gem. With corner cafes, local bookstores, and organic bites, Berkeley is a perfect destination for a day trip.
8:00 a.m. We started our day early at San Pablo Reservoir enjoying the coffee and almond croissants we packed while Griff tried to catch a few fish. The lake is massive with multiple docks, ideal for laying out with a good book.
11:00 a.m. After working up an appetite we headed to Elmwood Café. The line is perpetually at least a block long, but worth the wait. Griff enjoyed a pastrami sandwich and I was a big fan of the smoked salmon toast. The café itself was a bit crowded and noisy, but sneaking into a corner window seat helped us feel a bit secluded.
12:30 p.m. Specialty shops line the main streets with carefully curated items. Welcome Stranger features camping gear, grooming supplies, and impeccably selected men's clothing. We could easily spend all day thumbing through their racks. We also stopped at Mrs. Dalloway's Literary and Garden Arts because apparently I can't go on a day trip without lugging a few books home. I especially liked the staff favorite titles featured prominently on display with a few handwritten words about their contents.
2:00 p.m. The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive was opened in 1963 but recently changed locations. The range of exhibits is reason enough to visit. Terri Friedman's exhibit Art Wall features massive woven wall hangings, blurring the line between yarn and paint. The intricate details, sheer scale of the project, and energizing colors were hugely inspiring. BAMPFA also had exhibits showcasing Chinese painting on silk scrolls, most of which featured crashing cascades of water, photographs of Sojourner Truth, and Buddhist Art dating back to the 10th century from all around the world.
4:30 p.m. In the middle of a suburb, Indian Rock Park is a welcome break from the rows of houses. Steps carved into the giant rocks lead to a lookout point with an amazing view of the Bay. Luckily it was a clear day and we were able to see the Bay Bridge, city skyline, and the Golden Gate Bridge off in the distance. Bring your climbing shoes to boulder.
6:00 p.m. Across the street from Berkeley's famed Cheeseboard, we grabbed a table at Tigerlily. This dimly lit space feels a bit like stepping into a hip Smurf Forest due to moss lined ceilings, tucked away garden gnomes, and mushroom embellished jars and figurines lining the bar. Sylvan Esso and Little Dragon wafted in softly through the speakers, adding to the pleasant ambiance. Tigerlily's menu specifies if each dish is vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free, making it a great option for anyone with a special diet. The avocado and beets salad had a refreshing citrus kick and pistachios to lend a nice crunch. The tuna tartare was fresh and flavorful; each ingredient complementing the others instead of overpowering. Griff tried the clam and mussels with summer squash and really enjoyed it. We got extra garlic naan to share, and really liked the variety of dipping sauces that came alongside it. Between the lovely presentation -my cocktail arrived in a flower pot- and the unique flavors, Tigerlily is a must try.
7:30 p.m. Mediocre bars serving exclusively beer kind of hold a soft spot in my heart. Daily Pint was the perfect spot to grab a brew before heading to the Greek Theatre. Right next to La Val's Pizza, it's a quick walk to the amphitheater.
8:00 p.m. As we approached the Greek, I could hear Unknown Mortal orchestra starting up with The Word is Crowded off their newest album Multi-Love. UMO is amazing live, and the musicality of each member of the band is really unbelievable. As expected, Tame Impala brought out all the lights, strobes, and video footage. During Let it Happen the screen showcased a distorted image of a girl running alongside the beach, along with sequences of dark waves with red, blue, and yellow warps. The kaleidoscopic shapes contorting into mandalas were entertaining to watch and added an additional layer to the experience.
Unfortunately I suspect that the entirety of the show wasn't live. When setting up, the sound technicians played a video of a graphic morphing shapes in time with the bass line of It is Not Meant to Be. When Kevin Parker played the song live, with the same graphic on screen, he played with his back to the crowd. It's hard to tell with electronic, psychedelic rock whether what you're listening to is a recording or if the sounds are being produced on the spot.
Before the show, there was a lot of hype that Tame would be immersive and psychedelic and awe-inducing. The show was amazing and highly entertaining, but I wish there would have been more interaction with the crowd. One of the few comments that Parker made was that he was, "on painkillers." He's an interesting character with rockstar tendencies, but ultimately an extremely gifted musician. Allegedly, he single handedly produced Innerspeaker, recording every instrument himself. The level of obsessiveness displayed in production makes it easy to believe they use recordings to supplement their live content.
The Greek is my all-time favorite venue. There isn't a bad seat in the house, the acoustics are amazing, and their headliners continue to be worth attending. Check out their upcoming shows and spend a day Berkeley.