Taking advantage of a conference in Santa Clara, we arrived at the San Francisco International Airport after noon, picked up a rental car, and drove … the opposite direction, north, into the city. I lived in San Fran for a few weeks in 1982, and have visited frequently, so I know the local sights relatively well. Our first stop was Pier 39. The carousel is a hub at the pier.
We had saved our lunch hunger for the Pier Market, ordering the local specialty: seafood. In addition to a view of the open kitchen serving meals, the hostess had given us choice seats overlooking the bay.
After lunch, we walked out onto the pier for sightseeing, as do thousands of tourists every day.
The sea lions entertained us. Most just lie on the docks and sleep. When one wakes up and honks, a few others join in. With a slight shift in position, one sea lion falls into the water, and then swims around to squeeze into another spot.
There’s plenty of other tourists around with cameras, so we just asked one to snap this group photo with Geovanni, Kia, Nancy, Stephen and myself.
We walked west along the embarcadero. The weather was clear, so it was easy to spot Alcatraz.
The narrow sidewalk between the Fisherman Wharf’s restaurants and their takeout counters is always colourful.
Working at the counters means tourists are always walking by snapping photographs.
I don’t eat crab, so I presume that the stacks are freshly cooked, but not necessarily sold hot.
On a Sunday midafternoon, the marina wasn’t very busy, with just a few workers on boats straightening up.
We walked west to Ghiradelli Square. It’s been years since I’ve been there, so I didn’t remember a fountain.
Stephen went into the Ghiradelli store on a chocolate shopping spree for Christmas gifts.
On the return walk east, we crossed over Hyde Street, with a cable car approaching the northern terminus.
Continuing east, the view south on Columbus Avenue reveals a view of the Transamerica Pyramid that I hadn’t recalled.
The Cannery wasn’t as active as I remember in the summers. The renovated structure still portrays a richness in history.
The Boudin Bakery at the Wharf is a new building since the last time I was in San Fran. I do remember the sourdough bread well.
There were dozens of customers in the lineups for bread.
Behind the counter, the shelves were well stocked with a wide variety of breads.
After we exited the store, we passed a large window where we could see a baker preparing rolls. I wonder how long the crocodile loaf has been in there.
On the land side of The Embarcadero across from Pier 39, there’s a series of art galleries. This one had a bench of monkeys outside.
Back into the car, we drove up to the top of Telegraph Hill. The others went inside for a look while I waited for a parking space to clear. When I joined them, I noticed that Coit Tower gives the backside view of Christopher Columbus looking out to sea.
It was getting late in the afternoon, with a beautiful sunset looking west from Telegraph Hill.
Cars creep down winding road. Residents in the nearby homes can’t say that they don’t expect it.
Since this section of Lombard Street is one-way northbound, Coit Tower is clear landmark.
By the time we arrived at Japan Center, the early sunsets of December had overtaken us. The lighted gates on the plaza are welcoming.
The Peace Pagoda has been a landmark of Japantown in San Francsico for forty years.
Nancy was impressed by the variety of Japanese delicacies available at Nippon Ya. We were culturally uncertain to share these tastes.
She said that she wasn’t buying very much, because after soon after she would have returned home, her whole family was going on a west coast vacation.
We strolled the Japan Center restaurants, weighing dinner alternatives. Stephen enjoyed the Christmas lights on the menu displays.
Since we had had a late lunch, we chose to have a lighter meal of noodles at Mifune.
On a slightly circuitous route towards Santa Clara, we continued west through Golden Gate Park for a stop at the Cliff House. In the darkness, we could barely make out Seal Rocks and the Sutro Baths — certainly with insufficient light to take photos. With Stephen at the helm, and myself in the navigator’s seat, we’re sure that Geovanni and Nancy had nodded off in the back seat after a long day started in Eastern Time and finished in Pacific Time.
daviding December 19th, 2009
Posted In: travel