Travel

An American In Paris: Foreign Service Officer Turned Librarian

Ask an American expatriate “Why did you leave the country?” and more often than not you’ll get an explanation that begins “There was this guy…” or “I met a woman…” Ask Jeffrey Hawkins, a former foreign service officer who has lived in some ten countries on four continents since graduating from Cal 30 years ago, and you’ll hear a different story. “In my case,” he says, “I met a language.” Although actually, in the very beginning, there was a woman too.

We Lost It at the Eclipse

Until last Monday morning I was what Berkeley astrophysicist Alex Filippenko calls an “eclipse virgin.”  I’d seen partial solar eclipses before, which mostly meant observing the shadows cast on the ground through leaves or through a pinhole in cardboard. A total solar eclipse is different. It’s like a brief opening of the heavens, a fleeting glimpse at celestial perfection. The lead up is an interesting mix of sensations. The temperature drops, the light takes on an eerie quality, and shadows become impossibly crisp.

Guilt Trip: How to Justify a Bargain Vacation in Beleaguered Greece

From the start, the whole trip seemed haphazard and conceptually incoherent. What was the rationale, our friends asked, for spending a week in the Czech Republic followed by 10 days in Greece and four in Paris?

The simple, reasonable answer: Horse-trading. It was our 20th anniversary and my husband, Dan, and I had learned that collaborative skill of long-term couples through trial and therapy. Dan would pick a place and I would pick a place, and we would start and end in Paris, the home of close friends and a hub for cheap non-stop flights.

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

Famous in Guinea-Bissau: In Africa, Berkeley Band Becomes ‘Non-Militarized Face’ of USA

 Drenched in sweat, I rushed to pack up my cello before the crowd stormed the stage again. It was dark, and all the dancing had filled the hot air with reddish dust. We’d just finished our set, and I couldn’t wait to get my gear locked up in the van so I could relax. But as I knelt down to pick up my rosin, the mob of kids rushed my bandmate Brendan and slammed his back against the wall. By the time I turned, a sea of hands and fingers were rippling over his entire body.

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

Germany’s Beating Heart: Berlin’s Turbulent Past Gives Rise to Exuberant Culture

“Berlin ist eine Reise wert”—Berlin is worth a trip. That tepid marketing blurb from the 1950s was meant to lure reluctant tourists to the divided city still recovering from the devastation of World War II. No such encouragement is needed today. Twenty-five years after the destruction of the infamous Berlin Wall, tourism is a leading industry in Germany’s booming capital. Last year alone, more than 11 million people visited.

From the Fall 2014 Radicals issue of California.

Club Red: Traveling Along the Edge of Post-Fidel Cuba

We are wrapped in sweaters and sitting in an air-conditioned Chinese-made bus as it glides quietly, frigidly through the Cuban countryside. Outside, it’s about 80 degrees and humid, and people walk past the bus or congregate on corners, dressed in shorts and tank tops.

From the Spring 2014 Branding issue of California.

307 Gilman

“It’s a sort of will-o-the-wisp thing,” Glenn Seaborg once said of the discovery of plutonium. “We saw it and then it disappeared. Then we saw it again and then it disappeared and then finally we saw it and we could confirm it.” That confirmation happened in Room 307 Gilman Hall, on February 23, 1941. It was a stormy night, Seaborg recalled. The 5 microgram sample of “element 94” had been bombarded in Ernest O. Lawrence’s 60-inch cyclotron.

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