(2008) SF – Walking Tour

My First Tour of the City

After only being in the Bay Area for a few weeks, Dan and I decided to take the train into “the city” and do a little bit of exploration. We set aside Saturday as the day, but only after first checking out a local Electric Car Show in Palo Alto.

September 6, 2008
Total Miles: train ride, baby!
Mountain View, CA to “the City”

The first stop of the day was to see what was offered at a local Electric Car Show. We had seen some flyers up about it in the neighborhood and thought that it might be interesting. And it was! I don’t know enough about the technology to be fully impressed, but I did like the style of the cars being offered. Most of the displays were little backyard jobs, something that someone did on the weekends for “fun”. But there were a few commercial enterprises there peddling their wares, offering pre-converted cars, trucks and motorcycles for sale. It was a little eerie to watch a dirt bike go buy and not hear the wail of the two-stroke engine.

After we had seen what there was to see at the Car Rally we followed a nearby bicycle path to the train tracks and then a little further to the Caltran station, where we had a short 10 minute wait for the next train heading for the city. It was crowded on the walk, people packed together to head north for various reasons. Unfortunately once on the train we ended up sitting in front of two high school-age girls who could not form a sentence without throwing the word “like” in every time. At first it was amusing. After an hour, it was highly annoying. But I digress; it was still an enjoyable ride through a dozen or so towns along the way.

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Bike path along the train tracks

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Dan buys our tickets

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Inside the train

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Confusing signs near the Giant’s stadium

We got off the train near the AT&T Field, where many people were already gathering for a six o’clock game that night. It was about 1:00 and Dan and I were ready for lunch. We walked along The Embarcadero for a while, passing by piers and wharves in various states of decay and repair. Some where a mystery as to their current use whereas others proudly proclaimed their inhabitants to the world walking by. We finally settled upon Palamino for lunch, a nice restaurant near the Bay Bridge. We sat outside in the shade, relishing every breeze that made its way to our table. We had both vastly underestimated the weather in the City. It is usually 10-20 degrees cooler that where we live, so I had been confident in wearing my jeans and a t-shirt. But we were wrong: it was still at least 80 degrees and I was regretting my clothing choice.

After lunch Dan and I continued to follow the waterfront, enjoying the strong breeze that picked up as we rounded the North Point neighborhood. But first we made a quick stop at the Ferry Building Marketplace where we saw many hand-crafted foods and crafts. Dan hadn’t known about this place but I had read about it in an in-flight magazine a while ago. Unfortunately we arrived at 2pm, just as the outside farm vendors were starting to pack up their goodies and head home. We strolled through the inside of the building and saw many tasty things for sale. I have a feeling that we’ll be back.

Outside of the building we could see Alcatraz and many sight-seeing boats available to ferry people back and forth to the island and on hour-long sightseeing tours through the Bay. We’d leave that tourist bit for another day. We also declined to go aboard the SS Jeremiah O’Brien and the USS Pampanito, two naval ships berthed near Hyde Park. More walking brought us to Hyde Park, where we took a break on the grassy hillside and watched tour groups on Segways wobble past, while the full-rigged, steel-hulled Balclutha sat stoically in the background. Now it was time to head back

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Lunch at Palimino

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View near our lunch table

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Inside the Ferry Building Marketplace

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Locally made cheese

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Dan soaks up the hot sunshine

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The Segway Gang rides again

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Looking at the SS Jeremiah O’Brien through the Fisherman’s Wharf Gate

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Alcatraz in the not-so-distant distance

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The USS Pampanito

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Fresh crabs along the waterfront

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Ghirardelli’s – and no, I didn’t get any chocolate

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The Balcultha near Hyde Park

The problem with San Francisco is the same as Seattle: it’s full of hills. We had the choice of retracing our steps back along the waterfront or making our way through the city, avoiding steep hills as we could. I say that we did a great job. I am not sure of our route, as we turned left or right randomly, depending on the traffic, the elevation gain/loss or the interest of storefronts that we could see. We did a pretty good job.

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Like the car says, “Computer Guided Tours”

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Working our way back to the train station

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Classic homes on the hillside

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There were lots of murals on this home

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As close I got to Lombard Street on this trip

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St Peter and Paul Church near Telegraph Hill

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Washington Square Park on Filbert Street

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Still making our way towards the train station

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Massive crowds in Chinatown

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Looking east towards the Bay

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Even the hardware stores have classy window displays

We ended up waiting almost an hour for the train home, which then took and hour to get to where we had left the car, but it was a relaxing ride. And the intersection at the train station is an interesting one to sit at, as the drivers are all crazy. I was really surprised that there were no accidents while we sat there. I realized later, when I was home and checking out Google Maps, that we had barely touched the surface of the city. It was big. Much bigger than I expected and that could be taken in in one afternoon. Obviously this calls for another mission!

Tell me what you think! I want to know!