Cheap as Chips

Forget BART fare — come check out these local activities that are cheaper than a bag of chips.

Valentina Fung/Staff

Pedal to the Medal

As a freshman, I loved being able to sit on my bike and roll downhill from Foothill to VLSB in less than three minutes.  Gravity carried me, while my classmates sprinted across campus.  Instead of sweat down my shirt, I had the wind blowing through my hair – or my helmet at least.

I do occasionally get jammed between the bus that passes with inches to spare and the parked driver who opens his door without looking.  Steep downhills leave even less room for error – I didn’t realize how sharp the curve was on Centennial Drive until I crossed the double-yellow into an oncoming car.

Despite this near-death experience, I still ride my bike every day.  The BikeStation staff keep a watchful eye on my bike at the BART station, and a cheap cable lock keeps it safe on campus. Friendly students at the BicyCAL cooperative pump tires, change brakes and grease chains for the small price of a “Thank you!”  Whether day or night, rain or shine, I leave the car behind for my human-powered wheels.

Miss the bus?  No problem!  A brisk pedal will take you to Oakland before the next 1-not-so-Rapid arrives.  I love seeing the speed limit sign flash “SLOW DOWN” as I race down the street at 25.

So don’t drive, scooter, taxi or wait for the chronically delayed bus. Ride a bike!

A note to pedestrians: Please do not move out of the way for a bicyclist.  Just keep walking and we’ll avoid you. Thanks!

Jeffrey Joh

Happy Trails

Don’t let Berkeley’s urban sprawl fool you. Not only is the campus intertwined with luscious bouts of greenery, but so is the city with hiking trails.

Hiking for me started with Sunday night hikes up Dwight Avenue, dragged along by new friends.

That’s right, Dwight. The street you cross when walking down Telegraph to get to the Unit 2, or Amoeba. If you keep going straight up Dwight, past Clark Kerr, a dirt path behind a fence leads to hushed Berkeley hills and the bay’s glorious view. Be cautious of healthy Berkeley families and wandering joggers and their dogs; it’s less of a secret than you think.

While walking or bicycling to Tilden Regional Park is an activity in itself, the 800 or 851 bus toward the Richmond BART station takes you straight there. The next time your family or friends drive over for a visit, take the car up to Tilden and explore its trails. Whether you’re in for a mellow walk or an invigorating hike, bring a camera along to remember that the forest is only a 12-minute ride from Shattuck and Durant.

Other popular hiking trails include a path of seven miles behind Strawberry Canyon and a less strenuous walk up to the Big C. As walking uphill becomes every Berkeley resident’s default exercise, take a breather and go nature-tripping. Ease your transition into Berkeley, and forget about the campus and Telegraph for a while. Get lost in the hills (but don’t forget to bring a friend or a flashlight).

Pilar Huerta


Whether you want to touch your toes, melt that beer belly or align mind, body and breath, Yoga to the People is your home away from home. The studio is exactly as advertised: yoga to cashiers, cat surgeons, starving college students  and all those who are bendy and stiff. No Sanskrit greeting is required upon entry — just comfortable clothes and willingness to sweat.

Yoga to the People practices vinyasa flow: sun salutations, balancing postures, spine-strengthening sequences, and of course, the dreaded abs routine. But all of these human-pretzel poses are facilitated by the continuous cadence of the breath to your moving meditation. The studio space is impeccably clean (teachers double as janitors) and minimally yet tastefully decorated –— think hardwood, floor-to-ceiling windows and mini-candles.

The uniqueness of the Yoga to the People experience lies in its refreshing approach to teaching: it does not post teaching schedules so every class is a gamble. “We want the students to commit to their practice and come to class because they love their yoga, rather than follow a specific teacher,” says Annemaria Rajala, a teacher at the Berkeley studio. “The environment allows you to cultivate your inner teacher and that can be an incredibly empowering experience.”

Classes are offered every day, all at a pay-what-you-can rate. Mats are for rent at two bucks, but you will be pooling your dollar bills for a top-of-the-line mat to support your newfound yoga addiction.

— Belinda Gu

Art Crawl

Wandering the streets of Oakland is not usually the first thing that comes to mind for a nighttime jaunt. But if that night happens to be on the first Friday of the month, you may find that judgment sorely mistaken. Take a stroll between 23rd Street and Telegraph Ave. and instead of your typical urban landscape of barren roads and shady sidewalks, you’ll find the cultural haven known as Art Murmur, where creativity and community coalesce.

Begun in 2006 by eight art spaces looking to promote the city’s artistic profile, Art Murmur has grown into one of Oakland’s must-see cultural events with over 20 art galleries and spaces that are open to the public for free between 6  p.m. and 9 p.m. Wander, wide-eyed, amid original paintings, sculptures or photographs, and you’ll bear witness to the variety and stunning vibrancy of the Bay Area art scene. In one gallery, you’ll find the wonderfully wacky world of amateur wrestling documented by photographer Paul Mueller. In another, the contemplative and abstract designs of artist Yoni Matatyaou. While you roam from room to room, indulge in the food stands on the streets packed with patrons and performers.

A 20-minute bus ride takes you to an atmosphere of thriving local art with lively crowds that has proven magnetic for both the East Bay locals and international art collectors. The event has become so popular that many of its spaces have offered additional Saturday admissions. So, brave the bus or BART and defy the name — Art Murmur is an occasion to shout about.

Jessica Pena


Image Sources:
Pedal to the Medal: TONY ZHOU/STAFF


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