Saturday, April 18, 2015

2015 San Francisco - Day 4 - Morning

(Link to all 2015-April San Francisco / Berkeley trip blog posts)

I had a strangely fitful dream about innovators and artists. Something about leadership being the people with money telling the artist to go for it. And then a voice suddenly called to me: "Simon?!" It was so loud, spoken so clearly in sudden darkness that it seemed there was no other dream obscuring it.
I woke up immediately. It was 3:41 AM.

Feeling spooked, I stayed up for a while, in case something was waiting to happen. I pulled back the curtains on my window and looked out, but all seemed quiet in the brightly lit grounds/parking lot of the Inn.
Finally I went back to sleep.

It was Saturday. Officially the weekend. Since I fly out on Wednesday, this was the mid-point of my stay in San Francisco. In the back of my mind I had a sense of time running out. I pushed it aside. So much to do and I can't let myself be paralyzed by thinking there's not enough time.

I let myself sleep a bit later I think -- maybe 7:30 AM -- before getting ready and heading to the San Francisco wharves without having had any breakfast. This time there was no special festival to distract me and I was determined to do the entire length on foot. I had signed up for kirtan that evening at a San Francisco location, so I wouldn't see Berkeley at all until late night.
Fisherman's Wharf highlights that had been pointed out to me included sea lions. Who just do their own thing while humans looked on. Hmm.

Between the Wharf end of Market Street and the Ferry Building was a forest of vendor stalls, interrupted only by the broad river of the Embarcadero boulevard. There was an intriguing one of Masquerade masks and I was idly tempted to pick one up as a souvenir, but ultimately decided against it. I'd really probably never have actual use for it.

Onwards toward the Ferry Building and the Farmer's Market out front and wrapped around the east side. After one pass I settled on breakfast at Three Babes Bakeshop -- a make-it-from-scratch pie shop that reminded me of The Pie Shoppe in our own Chinatown.
As serendipity would have it, Three Babes is only at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market only on Saturdays, and if I hadn't postponed by Fisherman's Wharf visit from earlier in the week, I would have missed them. Of course I asked what their most unusual pie was and was suggested their signature Salty Honey Walnut. $6 for what looked like 1/4 or 1/6 of a deep dish pie.

Continuing on, I honestly just wandered the Fisherman's Wharf toward Pier 39 in a disinterested mood. I had had breakfast, and nothing else really jumped out at me to eat even more, though Della Fattoria almost made me want to take a photograph of their name. "Fattoria" -- people buy their carbs to get fat?

I got to Pier 39 before 10 AM and it was still nice and quiet. Most stores weren't open of course, but I was never really one to shop or load up on souvenirs. It was really just nice to be able to wander around without dodging foot traffic, and to be able to stop and inspect the window displays without feeling like people are waiting on you to move along.
There is an old fashioned carousel that opens well before the Pier gets busy, so if you want pictures or if you're an adult who wants to try it before the kiddies swarm the place, go early!
And yes I did locate the Sea Lions, shortly before 10 AM. The Sea Lion Centre just above that section of pier was open at 10 AM, and started Sea Lion talks at 10:30 AM. I didn't want to wait that long, so I just browsed the displays, especially the little "petting boxes" with samples of pelts from different types of sea lions.

Pier 39 also had (of course) a Boudin outlet, and I was shocked-yet-not-really to discover their clam chowder in bread bowl was over $8 here ($8.29?), when I had had it for just over $6 at Boudin's Market Street location -- and Boudin's further down Fisherman's Wharf near Madame Tussauds would be even more expensive ($8.59?). Obviously I was in a tourist trap. With that in mind, I looked about the restaurants for more clam chowder.
I was browsing the menu for Fog Harbor outside the restaurant when a lady came by to do the same. Chatting with her, I discovered she worked for Swiss Louis, another restaurant at Pier 39. She said crab was not in season so they'd be smaller than normal and maybe not recommended. As for good restaurants, she pointed to Tarantino's and Scoma's. I diligently made a note of those -- how often does someone who works at a restaurant recommend two other than their own?

It was still a bit early for lunch but I formulated a plan to just sample clam chowders as I headed down the Wharf today. I started with Fog Harbor and their "award winning" clam chowder. From the maitre'd, Pearla, I found out that staff get their clam chowder free (nice perk!). Once I was seated, I quizzed my server Ariane about which award their clam chowder had won. She was new and caught off guard, but promptly came back with the answer -- #2 place People's Choice in the annual Fisherman's Wharf chowder competition. No idea who came first. In any case, they had a far superior chowder compared to Boudin.



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