Contnuing on our work/vacation trip to San Francisco that I have blogged about the past few days here and here, it's time to hop on the Powell-Hyde cable car line to take a ride to Fisherman's Wharf. Notice the way the cable car has to be turned around manually on a turntable to make a return trip. It is then pushed onto the running cables beneath the street, which move at 9.5 miles per hour constant speed. To read a brief explanation as to how cable cars work visit this page of San Francisco's Cable Car Museum web site. The Powell-Hyde line turnaround the "Freidel Klussmann Memorial Turnaround" in honor of the woman who saved the cable cars, as they were almost made obsolete in 1947 and taken out of commission until she created a public campaign showing that the cable cars value to San Francisco was far greater than their operational cost. (all photos will enlarge when clicked on once, and then again)
The cable car driver is responsible for braking the car and warning people who hang off the sides to avoid obstacles coming their way. He also rings the iconic cable car bell bell, signaling a stop. There are many more modern means of transportation in San Francisco, so the cable cars are definitely mainly a tourist attraction. A brief history of why they were invented according to the Cable Car Museum's website:
"Andrew Smith Hallidie tested the first cable car at 4 o'clock in the morning, August 2nd, 1873, on Clay Street, in San Francisco. His idea for a steam engine powered - cable driven - rail system was conceived in 1869, after witnessing horses being whipped while they struggled on the wet cobblestones to pull a horsecar up Jackson Street. As the story goes, the horses slipped and were dragged to their death."
I hope this photo collage gives you some idea of the thrilling sights you pass as you ride on a cable car. The first sight of the bright blue San Francisco Bay as the cable car goes over the crest of a hill is so beautiful it will take your breath away! The cable car that was after the one I rode, had a crew of cartoon characters riding on it which made me smile. You can see their photo in the lower left square.
The Buena Vista cafe is located just to the left of the Powell-Hyde Cable Car's last stop in Fisherman's Wharf, and it has become a favorite stop for my husband and I as we love their famous Irish Coffee and have to have one every time we visit San Francisco! I blogged about this previously on this post.
There is a lot of showmanship that goes on at the Buena Vista bar as a multitude of hot sweetened coffees are lined up and the barista pours the whiskey from up high quickly into each glass, and then tops them off with lightly whipped cream. As fast as he can line them up and make them, another round is soon begun. Somehow my photos came together in almost perfect order for this collage! The recipe is here. The Buena Vista serves as many as 2,000 of these famous Irish Coffees each day! They also have other beverage selections and a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. San Francisco's weather can be quite cool, in fact there is the famous quote associated to Mark Twain that states: " The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." While we were there the temperatures were in the 50's to 70's, so a nice hot Irish coffee can be a welcomed treat!
Now we walked down to Fisherman's Wharf where most of the boats berthed there belong to a third generation of fishing craft piloted by descendants of the fishermen who made their livelihoods on the waters of San Francisco Bay for many generations. It has now become a very crowded tourist stop, but again it should not be missed, if possible, on a trip to San Francisco.
There are many tourist souvenir shops in the wharf area, along with seafood restaurants and vendors selling the delicious Dungeness crab of San Francisco.
You can buy one steamed to take home or find them served in paper cups as fresh-cooked crab meat cocktails, or offered in many other forms, such as soup and crab salad.
Another wonderful business located in Fishermans Wharf is the famous Boudin Bread Baker's Hall. There you can watch their famous sourdough bread being made as you look through a 30 foot observation window. The smell of baking bread in the area is intoxicating! The Boudin family have been baking their artisan bread in San Francisco since 1849.
Of course one of the main attractions in Fisherman's Wharf are the seals that sleep on the docks on Pier 39.
According to the Pier 39 website: "The seal started arriving in droves, taking over the docks in January 1990 shortly after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. At first they numbered from 10-50, but due to a plentiful herring supply, available dock space and the marina’s protected environment, the population grew to more than 300 within a few months. Each winter, the population can increase up to 900 sea lions, most of which are male. During the summer months, the sea lions migrate south to the Channel Islands for breeding season, but in recent years a small group stays year-round at PIER 39's K-Dock."
They are very amusing to watch! Most of them will be sleeping soundly but a few will be barking and fighting for a better position on the dock, and every now and then the weaker seal will get pushed into the water by the stronger seal. The Marine Mammal Center of Sausalito monitors the seals and tries to ensure their health and safety. The Marine Mammal Center is a nonprofit veterinary research hospital and educational center dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of ill and injured marine mammals – primarily elephant seals, harbor seals, and California sea lions.
My husband dined earlier in the week with a business associate at Alioto's Restaurant in Fisherman's Wharf and enjoyed it very much, so he treated me for dinner there when we began our vacation. Alioto’s is among the oldest restaurant on the Wharf, and was founded in 1925. The restaurant is still owned and operated by direct descendants of the original Alioto family. We ordered their "Original Seafood Sausage," which was filled with prawns, shrimp and scallops, and served with a tomato basil, lemon butter caper sauce, and we also enjoyed a "Cold Seafood Salad," consisting of calamari, octopus and shrimp, marinated in olive oil, house made white wine vinegar and toscanelli beans. We shared their specialty, "Nonna Rose’s Famous Crab Cioppino," that also had clams, mussels and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce. The waiter told us Cioppino was invented by the Alioto's. This fish stew first became popular on the docks of San Francisco, now known as Fishermans Wharf, in the 1930s. Cioppino is thought to be the result of Italian immigrant fishermen adding something from the day's catch to the communal stew kettle on the wharf with Dungeness crab as the main ingredient. Needless to say each dish was very flavorful and the perfect way to end a day spent at Fisherman's Wharf!
I hope you'll join me in my next blog post as I'll show you what I did in San Francisco while my husband was at work for a few days.
I'm joining in on Jenny Matlock's blog Alphabe Thursday's Rainbow Summer School event -- this week's colr is indigo! The photos of the water in the bay and the dishes of Alioto's had shades of the beautiful dark blue indigo in them!