San Francisco, California: Make love, not war - Grampies Go Coastal - CycleBlaze

January 5, 2013

San Francisco, California: Make love, not war

San Francisco has many neighbourhoods, and no doubt each has a different look and feel. Guidebooks usually cover at least 15 unique sections of town. In our brief time today we were only in a few, yet we will still recklessly share our overall impression of the city.

First off there are those Victorian style three story houses, done up with gingerbread style decoration and decorated in shades of white or pastel. The "painted ladies" are a line of such houses often seen in postcards, but at least 14,000 of such buildings have been preserved in the city. Second there are the hills. Parts of the city are flat, but then zap!, the street goes up at 45 degrees.

We walked around on a Saturday, and in no case did we run into a street that was dominated by speeding cars or packed with too many people. Together with the many low rise areas, this gave the city a very livable feel.

A typical street, though this is in the Marina neighbourhood
Heart 0 Comment 0
Looking up a hill, with a trolley visible
Heart 0 Comment 0
Another typical and uncrowded street
Heart 0 Comment 0
In the harbour, with Alcatraz on the left.
Heart 0 Comment 0
We sort of chuckled at a tourist photographing a sea gull, but ended snapping one too - a colouration we are not used to.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Though it's winter, there are still lots of flowers around. This is a closeup from a flowering tree.
Heart 0 Comment 0

We had four targets in our wanderings for this one day. First there is Ghirardelli Square, which is chocolate central, original home of the 160 year old chocolate company. Then there is the Boudin bakery, home of the original San Francisco sourdough bread, and between the two, the Fisherman's Wharf area, home of all manner of tourist shops. Finally we sallied off up hills and past costly houses to the Presidio park area to meet our old friend John.

Ghirardelli

This is primo chocolate from a company established here by an Italian immigrant in 1852. Probably the signature product are 2x2 inch squares in a large variety of flavours. In Ghiardelli Square, the location of the original factory, there are at least three outlets for the chocolate and chocolate based ice cream sundaes. When you come in, they give you a sample square. So by visiting each of the three locations, you can collect three (each). And since their memories are not that good, you can go around again, for a total of a dozen. Only thing, on any given day the samples are just one flavour. So we had to buy a pile more, to get the proper nutritional balance!

The original Ghirardelli factory complex is now an upscale retail area with at least three Ghirardelli chocolate outlets very near each other.
Heart 0 Comment 0
More of the great brownie mix flavours than we have seen, plus a $60 bar of pure chocolate. You can also buy syrup by the gallon and 50 unit bags of Ghirardelli Squares for $20.
Heart 0 Comment 0
The syrup used for the ice cream confections is made on site from cocoa beans. There is equipment there for grinding, mixing, etc.
Heart 0 Comment 0
These are not ours! (We shared just one).
Heart 0 Comment 0

Boudin

Boudin has a huge bakery/restaurant in the heart of Fisherman's Wharf. Here is sourdough bread in many shapes. Shape is the main thing we noticed, not so much various grain types or flavors, though there was representation from garlic, walnut, olive, and sesame. San Francisco sourdough is basically a white bread with a crackly crust and the distinctive slightly sour flavour of the leavening starter. It is absolutely super, and if you get a soup or scrambled eggs in a "bowl" made from a small hollowed out one, you really have something. It is such a joy to experience something original, authentic, and high quality!

A teddy bear sourdough shape
Heart 0 Comment 0
We love bakeries that look like this!
Heart 0 Comment 0
In keeping with the Fishermans Wharf showmanship, these bakers in the window can speak to passers by on the sidewalk with microphone and speaker. They will ask you where you are from and invite you in for a free sample. Note the giant alligator bread.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Fishermans Wharf

A great tourist area - have a look at the stuff in the photos below. My favourites are the many camera stores that try to portray low prices with garish store fronts. The sales people will also come out of the store and try to lure you in. I have no idea if you can really get a deal there, but the theatricality is great.

There are many garish photo shops like this. All use yellow in their signage.
Heart 0 Comment 0
These cable cars head up the hill. However, unlike the trolleys they are not really part of the regular transit system but pricey tourist attractions.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Swimmers from the nearby rowing and swim club. They routinely do stuff like swim to Alcatraz or swim the English Channel. We were bundled up in sweaters and raincoats when we snapped this shot!
Heart 0 Comment 0
A colourful kite store.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Good news, Arthur, we did not buy this for you. (When we brought a mouse pad to Arthur from Chambord, in France, he had to politely inform us that mice are passe).
Heart 0 Comment 0
Here at Blazing Saddles and other bike rentals, they asked us if we wanted to do a bike ride. Boy, did they get an earful!
Heart 0 Comment 0
City tours can be by double decker bus, little three wheeled yellow cars, on foot, or here, with electric Segways.
Heart 0 Comment 0
There is a row of shops selling crabs, crab chowder, crab salad, and other seafood, each with outdoors kitchens.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Crabs!
Heart 0 Comment 0
This is a chain, but quite fun. Inside it is all jungly decoration and jungle themed stuff for sale. Occasionally, thunder rolls through and the lights dim. There are animated jungle animals around, too, and fish. Looks great for kids.
Heart 0 Comment 0
This automated toilet took a bit of study. It also locks itself (presumably only when unoccupied) and does something mysterious that the computer screen calls sanitizing.
Heart 0 Comment 0
We could not buy and carry the book, but here you get the idea.
Heart 0 Comment 0
In Europe they just straight out sold you a half sized cup, but this is an innovative approach.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Presidio

The Presidio is a 1500 acre park at the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. We walked a few km there to meet our old friend John at the café in the golf course that is part of the area. As is typical for the Grampies, the walk ran into some crazy hills, plus four sets of steep stairs, and rain. Still, it was so great to see our old friend. We first met as students at McGill University in Montreal, forty years ago.

John is a high powered professor of Divinity, and was pressed for time as he prepared to imminently leave for a four month teaching session on Hong Kong. Still he carved out some time for our get together, and we treasured every minute. He also gave us a lift back through the rain to our motel, which was really swell. We love you, John.

Expensive house on a hill on the way to Presidio golf course
Heart 0 Comment 0
The view from a San Francisco hill
Heart 0 Comment 0
Dodie and John
Heart 0 Comment 0

Make Love, Not War

Sentiments in the sand
Heart 0 Comment 0
All along Fishermans Wharf and here at Ghiradelli, people of all nationalities shared the fun.
Heart 0 Comment 0
We spotted this up one hill. Is it current or a 60's leftover? The song says "If you're going to San Francisco, you're going to meet some gentle people there." We like to think of the place this way.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Rate this entry's writing Heart 1
Comment on this entry Comment 0