Sproul Plaza, UC Berkeley
||San Francisco, CA|
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Sproul Plaza is the heart of UC Berkeley, the oldest and highest ranked of the UC campuses. Here two rows of London Plane trees and community bulletin boards pinned to the max with flyers lead to Sather Gate, the greenish bronze entrance to the center of campus. Student groups set up tables to inform students and invite them to join. Historical demonstrations took place here against the Vietnam War in the 1960s, and still take place today against the current war. Sproul Hall and its steps formed a stage for these demonstrations. It's nice to sit on the sloped grass beside Sproul Hall, and students can be found here in the afternoon warming up in the sun (when it's not foggy or overcast as is often the case). Another nice spot are the tables and chairs outside Golden Bear Cafe, which are raised above Sproul Plaza and afford a pretty view of Sather Gate and the London Plane trees.
People watching is great fun at UC Berkeley. Sit on one of the benches beside the London Plane trees and watch the students rush by. If you walk south from Sproul Plaza you will be on Telegraph Ave, a wild scene of sights and smells that revolves around a certain green substance. This is the South part of campus where many student dorms are situated and the campus buildings have grown around businesses like Hotel Durant that were previously there.
UC Berkeley is a campus dense with brutalist-style 1960s buildings and can appear stark. The open spaces are smaller and more cramped than at other UC campuses. It is truly an urban campus. I thought Berkeley would be a suburb of San Francisco, but is a city of its own. To escape the concrete claustrophobia, head east to UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, where you'll be in the misty forest amongst amazing trees.
For a great hangout with a less cramped, open feel and good food, head to Solano Avenue. For amazing food, check out Gourmet Ghetto on Shattuck Avenue.
Great Place to Stay
A great place to stay to be a part of the college scene is Hotel Durant, a quirky hotel with a collegiate flavor in the South Campus area. It is a mix of ultra-clean, luxury accomodations, and lamps that look like- well. you'll just have to see for yourself. A poster for the film "The Graduate" donned the wall in our room, along with a painting with themes of science and nuclear energy. Door keys look like student IDs. Walls are dark-toned and bedheads are black leather. It's much more exciting than your typical cheesy hotel room with paintings of a rowboat on a lake and floral accents here and there. Refreshing! From Hotel Durant there are lovely views of the bay and of the Campanile, a true princess tower, at night. You can walk just one block to Telegraph Avenue and two blocks to Sproul Plaza from Hotel Durant.
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The red tab is on the lawn in front of Sproul Hall. Click "satellite" to see it from the air.
Take Highway I-80 East to Berkeley. Exit at University Avenue. Go east on University Avenue for 1.5 miles. Turn right on Oxford Street. Turn left on Durant Avenue. Turn left on Telegraph Avenue.
From Telegraph Avenue walk north to pedestrian-only Sproul Plaza. Parking is very difficult around here. We stayed at the Hotel Durant and paid the $16 for parking, then walked to campus.
Hotel Durant, 2600 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, call (510) 845-8981.
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