I’m always drawn to the water, marinas, and wharves. I think it has something to do with my family’s nautical past. The clinking boats in the harbor, the sound of waves crashing against rocks, the serene colours of blue, white, and green. It came as no surprise then, that the moment we arrived in Fisherman’s Wharf (where we stayed for the first few days of our trip to San Francisco), I felt right at home. I had heard warnings from various bloggers that Fisherman’s Wharf is very touristy, and to skip it in lieu of other options. Maybe it was the insistent rain that plagued us our entire time in California, or the chilly weather, or even the thick layer of perma-fog, but there were very few tourists in sight as we strolled along the wharf. I can definitely imagine though, in the heat of the summer, on a busy weekend, how Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 must be an absolute tourist haven. In a way, it was kinda nice to be left alone as we strolled, viewing the beauty of the bay, uncrowded and peaceful.
Fisherman’s Wharf is a stretch of harborfront, boasting lots of restaurants, clam chowder stands, and small shops. Immediately when we arrived in San Francisco, we had to try some of the famous clam chowder in a bread bowl (or porcelain bowl, if you’re gluten-intolerant like me…). I really enjoyed the weathered buildings of this historic part of San Francisco, even if they’re been commercialized and “Disney-fied”. We could still see some older buildings further away from Pier 39 that were steeped in the nautical history of the place. On our last day near the wharf, a Saturday, when the rain clouds finally disappeared for a brief moment in time, we saw the other tourists, bustling about, pouring into the seafood restaurants in droves. It was nice to see the other-wise deserted place we had become accustomed to for a few days, turn into a lively mini-village of other vacationers.
Along with the occasional interesting bird that we don’t see here in Canada, we caught glimpses of pelicans swooping around, diving into the water to catch a fish. On Pier 39 we walked out to see the famous sea lions, having heard their tell-tale bark the night before. They made up a slithering huddle of smooth skins, fighting, playing, and dozing on the rocking docks. I loved looking at them, even if it was pouring rain. It was nice to be alone, watching them from underneath a thin overhang on a nearby building, as restaurant trucks unloaded the daily catch into the back doors of the kitchen.
I guess the dismal weather actually worked in our favor, allowing us to enjoy the beauty of Fisherman’s Wharf without the commercialized tourist trap that we had been heavily warned against. After a long stroll through the rain, it was absolutely wonderful to stop into a restaurant for a bowl of warm clam chowder while watching the boats bob upon the bay.