Is this the hub of activity?

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by MichaelJM on October 19, 2010

We were staying at the Radisson Hotel just a short walk away from the piers of Fisherman’s Wharf. It claimed in the information that it had "breathtaking views" of San Francisco Bay. Well not from our bedroom – we had not so breathtaking views of the car park! Still the room was absolutely fine with a couple of queen Sized beds and the usually expected facilities. Of course we were not intending to be languishing in our room and the hotel was perfectly placed for accessing the City. It was only a couple of minutes to the pier and the tram terminal was a 10 minute saunter in the other direction, although trams were closer than that if you didn’t fancy the walk.

Just outside the hotel were two decent restaurants – ideal for stoking up in the morning with a good hearty breakfast!

The wharf dates back to the Gold Rush days when the harbour would have been a mass of small sailing boats similar to the Egyptian Feluccas and these colourful boats could be heard weaving in the waters. I say heard because on the foggy days the ship’s crew would sing loudly as they set about their sailing – it meant that you would always be sure to know that there was a boat nearby. Far more pleasant than the harsh sound of a modern fog horn!

For over 150 years fishermen have been harvesting the water’s nearby and the famous catch is the Dungeness crab. Nowadays the restaurant business reminds you that this is the dish of the area as the notices shout at you that this dish is available and "the best in town". With so many best in towns it’s hard to know where to eat. We went to Neptune’s Seafood Restaurant to sample the local catch and of course the traditional clam chowder. Very nice it was too, but I’m sure it was very similar to many of its neighbours. In all honesty they were all busy and looked a "much of a muchness".

Whilst I was waiting for the meal to be served I went to investigate the noise I could hear from the inside of the restaurant. It was of course the famous harbour seals who have made their home here. Floating rafts have been constructed for them and their efforts to clamber onto these structures are worth watching. They make a heck of a din and, although after a time you get used to the smell, they aren’t pleasant to be near. Be warned their odour is rank!

We went up close to USS Pampanito – a World War II submarine that made several patrols in the pacific, sinking six Japanese boats. There were explanatory boards about the sub but we decided that we didn’t have time to fully explore the inside of the submarine. Still it’s a "mean bit of kit" considering it dates back to 1945.

Walking along the side of the water there was plenty to keep your mind occupied. Street entertainers by the score; locals weaving in and out of the crowds on their roller blades; colourful leisure boats; and traditional working boats with fishermen preparing the fish for sale. The latter is not always a pretty sight but fascinating nonetheless. Huge gulls strut round the promenade and clearly they are well fed on food left over by the visitors. Occasionally horse and traps canter past (these are available for hire) seemingly in competition for spped with the trams that glide almost effortlessly along the front.

Our wives were taken by the variety of small craft shops selling locally made items alongside the more exclusive shops. We looked but didn’t buy and at one point my friend and I sat on the pier enjoying people watching. Alongside the excited voices we could still hear the honking of the seals. They won’t be overshadowed by noisy tourists.

i reckon this is a great area to visit and take in the atmosphere, but there are far more typical San Francisco sights to see. I'd recommend visiting and eating hear, but don't dwell here at the expense of the other sights in town.
Fisherman's Wharf
The Embarcadero
San Francisco, California

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