Now that the first wave of midterms is over, you and your friends might want to get away from college life for a day or two. Oakland and San Francisco are the likely destinations to the east, though there is a more humble escape to the west along the Marina — the scenic, sea-breezy pier.
Before the Bay Bridge put an end to the electric train cars in Berkeley and before Southern Pacific Railroad laid down its long iron tentacle across Shattuck Square, the way to travel between Berkeley and San Francisco was by ferry. These ferries were privately run and would receive passengers at the end of 3.5 mile pier. Now fishermen are there day and night gutting, casting, waiting for a bite. Families spend the afternoon walking around, sailing, throwing big reunions and dining at the lodge. Some couples park their vehicles facing the bay then make the windows fog.
The reason the ferry industry thrived between SF and Berkeley was not because of downtown tourism, but the California Gold Rush. Pioneers came by the boat-load, empty handed, muddy-booted. Today the pier ends in a wood gate flanked with colorful graffiti 3,000 feet out from the rocky shore. Through the slits you can see the razor-thin lines Golden Gate, draped like a spider’s web over the mouth of the bay. On the rows of wood where the pier used to be, birds have flocked so en masse that looking out toward the Golden Gate at sunset it’s hard to differentiate them from the ripples on the water.
On a Saturday along the marina you will find hotdog stands and our favorite pastime, the ice-cream man. Via a quick bus ride on the 51B down University, Berkeley’s west pier makes for a perfect afternoon getaway.
Image sources: Josh Escobar, the Daily Californian; Keoki Seu under Creative Commons
Tags:Berkeley Marina, birds, cal sailing, fishing, having sex in your car, walking, water
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