Monday, December 12, 2011

San Francisco: On The Waterfront

Situated on a peninsula, San Francisco is surrounded on three sides by water that has played a large part in the city's history and development. Bounded by the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, water is still important to the people of San Francisco. Fishing and crabbing have been major industries dating back to the early days when Italian immigrants developed the fishing industry at the time of the Gold Rush. It was common, though, for fishermen to receive a portion of the catch as payment. They were then on their own to sell this seafood for cash. Fishing fleets are still an important part of the local economy. A port city, San Francisco has seen war ships head west to battle foreign countries. And huge container ships bring goods in from distant ports. 

Dungeness crabs for sale! I can attest that they are delicious.
Think of all the goods in the containers on this ship. I wondered from what foreign ports they came.
A view of the bay showing lots of sailboats out for a day on the water. In the distance you can see the Golden Gate Bridge.
First I saw this statue of sea lions. What I didn't understand until a bit later is that sea lions bask in the sunshine on platforms in the water.
Here are the live sea lions that bark and frolic in the sun.
Fisherman's Wharf is visited by thousands and thousands of tourists each year.

On Pier 39 you can have a lot of fun.

I watched this performer juggle flaming batons.

Here you can have a cartoon of your face made.

There were so many street performers I lost count. This man wailed the blues and drew a crowd.

Painting for an audience ... that's an interesting way to make money. All the performers had prominent tip containers with signs to please drop in money.

There were lots of street vendors hawking their wares.
This bakery has been in business since the mid 1800s. My guide said that they have kept the sourdough starter alive since the beginning and continue to make bread today.

This man, making sourdough bread, captured my attention. He's making bread in large quantities, not just a few loaves at a time. The bread he makes may be used as soup bowls.
While all things related to being a seacoast town are evident in San Francisco, today Fisherman’s wharf has also become a major tourist attraction. Pier 39 is part of this area and contains a rabbit’s warren of shops, restaurants, and other attractions. A meal of fresh seafood is a few steps in any direction. Popular treats that can be seen eaten on the streets are sourdough bread bowls filled with steaming clam chowder and Dungeness crab.

On this pier you can  buy a ticket for a ferry ride around the bay.
I didn't buy a ferry ticket but I enjoyed watching the ferry as it zoomed across the water.

A free museum! What could be better?

Ancient arcade machines were on display in the museum. The museum was free but the machines were not.

I saw about 100 machines, but was drawn to this old fellow.
From the pier you can see Alcatraz Island. It used to house a maximum security prison that was escape-proof because even though it looks like a short swim to the mainland, the water is too cold and treacherous.

This World War II submarine was on display. Large signs told about the sailors who lived on board while fighting for their country.

I saw this sign and wondered how many people sign up to sleep on the old submarine. Would you?
Guess who built this World War II ship. Women did! So many men were off fighting the war that women took over factory work. This was the first time that women, en masse, worked outside the home.
Now on land, this "ark" was once a houseboat that was docked on the water.
At one time the only way across the bay was by ferry.
Efforts are underway to preserve boats. This man is working on a restoration project.

An amazing story accompanied this vessel. In 2009, two men rowed this boat from Japan to San Francisco, a trip of 5,000 miles. It took 189 days. They had to take turns rowing around the clock and almost ran out of food.
The weather was quite cool, so I was surprised to see so many people out swimming.The bay water is frigid.

As I walked along taking in the sights, a man frightened me. It turns out I’m not alone as he has been doing this for 30 years and has become famous because of it! He is a street performer called The World Famous Bushman. He sits crouched on the sidewalk hidden behind some evergreen branches. As an innocent victim walks by, he jumps out from behind the branches while making a menacing sound. I let out a little shriek when he startled me, and he laughed raucously.

All in all, my time in San Francisco was far too short. But I greatly enjoyed every minute of my stay. I highly recommend it as a historical and picturesque place to visit. No matter what your interests are, you can find pleasant diversions in this lovely city by the sea.

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