Saturday, 12 May 2012

Fisherman's Wharf and Environs

Another of the large tourist draws in San Francisco is Fisherman's Wharf. That is the destination for the Powell and Hyde cable cars and for the 'F Line' streetcars which trundle from Castro along Market Street. Rare is it that there is a seat on either of those transit vehicles after they leave Market Street behind.

The Market Street cars turn onto Embarcadero and, once past the Ferry Terminal, pass piers sequentially given odd numbers up to Pier 41 which is the actual Fisherman's Wharf. One of those piers - about half way  along - is the cruise ship terminal.

 A Princess Line cruise ship. On one of my visits to San Francisco I went to SFO for the early morning flight to Toronto and found a long line for the check-in - one of these cruise ships had returned to the port early that morning and the folk in front of me were passengers from Southern Ontario who were returning home.

Pier 39 is the stop before Fisherman's Wharf and, like the other, it is a place of seafood markets, restaurants and galleries.

                                                       This is Fisherman's Wharf

Adjacent to Fisherman's Wharf  are a number of floats placed there for the use of fishermen and small boat owners. However, they have been commandeered by others - sea lions. There seems to be a large population of these wonderful creatures along the California Coast. Now they have congregated in San Francisco Bay for two reasons - plenty of seafood for them to eat (including the offal thrown into the Bay by the seafood processors) and because those floats are out of reach of the sharks. While most people go to the Wharf for the seafood restaurants and the views of the harbor, now huge crowds linger to photograph and to watch these magnificent creatures - and to be amused by the strutting of the bulls who are seeking out cows to add to their harems.

                              Some of the floats are completely covered by snoozing sea lions

And the strutting and the bellowing of the bulls - both older and younger - is amusing to watch. The above photo is of a younger one.

                                             An older bull with at least one of his harem.

                                            A mother with some younger sea lions

                                                 A young bull. Isn't he handsome?

The sounds made by the sea lions are similar to the barking of dogs and the overwhelming aroma is of fish!

Back towards the city center is a small hill upon which stands the Coit Tower erected by a widow in memory of her husband.

The following photo is of a statue of the widow Coit.

The view from the top of the tower.The bridge seen in the distance is the Oakland Bay Bridge which, on my last visit to the area, is being rebuilt and enlarged.

I went up to the Coit Tower on a Muni bus and walked back down via a series of stairs. These stairs took me through a small area that looked like an overgrown park and there I encountered wild parrots. As San Francisco is a major seaport, many sea captains settled there and,  just like in the pirate tales, they brought parrots with them.  The parrots are fed by the locals and seem to have thrived far away from their jungle homes.

Fisherman's Wharf at sunset is lovely as the following two photos show.

            The water side of the wharf (in the middle distance is Alcatraz - now an historic landmark).

                                       The Golden Gate is truly golden at sunset.

On the opposite side of Embarcadero from the wharves are all sorts of shops - including the famous Giardhelli (store and square) and their well known chocolates. Actually, there are a few other chocolate vendors there too and, to my taste, the chocolates for sale at one of them are better than the more famous brand.

Also, there is an old fashioned diner along that street - great for a grilled cheese sandwich and a chocolate milk shake and, YES! - the furnishings are right out of the 1950s. Talk about nostalgia!

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