ON THE WHARF

It's a smooth ride from Danville to San Francisco

My thoughts were on somewhere else as the alchemist Nicholas Flamel and wife-sorceress Perenelle were preparing for what they saw as their last battle against the Lotan at Pier 14 of San Francisco. The city wasn’t really besieged by the forces of evil unless your nose was buried in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel: the Warlock the fifth installment of the series. The storyline kept running through my head because San Francisco was one of the settings of Michael Scott’s six-part series and, which was part of the reason I religiously followed book after book.

While the dynamic duo was thinking of ways to exterminate the Lotan I was reminiscing about the last time I walked on the piers of San Francisco particularly 39. That was more than 20 years ago and the trip to San Francisco was a family weekend trip. We’d board the Caltrain from Palo Alto up to Market Street (if I got it correctly) and walked around the city until it was time to catch the train back to Palo Alto.

This time I was with an old high school buddy and it was a smooth sunny drive to San Francisco from Danville, which was a good sign. Grey clouds and fog were not exactly happy elements in a tourist’s picturesque landscape.  Traffic was a little slow though because it was the beginning of the long Labor Day weekend but no worries. I wasn’t about to go apoplectic – why spoil a beautiful day? Besides, ‘80s songs were blaring from the car stereo and Kara’s Cupcakes were stashed somewhere in the SUV.

Hello ice cream!

The tourist basking in the sun

Fisherman’s Wharf is the most demotic of all piers with tourists walking up and down the stretch of stores interspersed with restaurants touting the best crabs and clam chowder soup in a bun for tourists and ilk to dig in to. I was perfectly happy with going up to one of the little kiosks selling fresh crab and shrimp and calamari for my calamari in a little box. Walking down the pier, dipping calamari after calamari in the tangy sauce, I felt like walking in cloud-cuckoo-land. Not a trace of the frustration at work or the vicissitudes of life seemed to meet me in every corner, challenging my patience. Instead, I was face-to-face with seagulls walking up and down the road, cool air, seafood restaurants, a gamut of tourists, gaiety and the gigantic sign of Ghirardelli calling out to indulge in their decadent sweet treats.

You'll find the wharf quickly - look for the huge sign

Share with a friend, share the calories!

Like any other tourist, I truly indulged my sweet tooth, digging into The Golden Gate or a trio of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate ice cream each paired with crushed pineapple, sliced strawberries and homemade chocolate syrup. Completing the banana split were the slices of fresh bananas, whipped cream, chopped almonds and a cherry. Not much of a nut lover, I had the nuts on the side for my gal-pal to dip into.

Get your fill of crispy calamari!

The wind had picked up a bit, as the sun slowly started to set in the horizon yet San Francisco was still welcoming an influx of tourists taking in the sights and sounds. My day one in the Bay Area was done. There was still tomorrow and, this time, with a lot more of old high school friends flying in for the much-postponed reunion and extended persiflage.

Cartoon sketch with a high school buddy - the best San Fo souvenir

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