IT's all about the clam chowder.
"You got to try try the clam chowder." This was and is the unanimous advice of just about everyone who knew that I was heading to this famous San Francisco tourist destination- the Pier 19.
Pier 19? Yes, this waterfront community along the river bank of this fourth most populous city in California is also known as the Fisherman's Wharf.
Fisherman's Wharf got its name during the Gold Rush where immigrant fishermen settled in the area and fished for the Dungeness Crab.
It then became, and still is now, the base of San Francisco's fishing fleet.
During the 1970s and 1980s when the place was redeveloped, it became a major tourist destination.
And as tourists in this land of promise, we must do our required duties of checking out the must-see places of this Western state.
After all, this was on the checklist -- the wharf and the perpetual advice of never to miss the clam chowder in any of the restaurants that stand along the pier.
San Francisco is tourist friendly. The non-dependency to cars makes it a favorable place to visit when touring the place most especially if you don't have anyone to rely on to take you around. Everything is just about accessible by cab, the train and the bus. You tote, travel guide and map will just be enough to enjoy the area.
And so we began our journey on foot on this highly recommended tourist spot. The bus from Powell Street, a block away form another famous spot- the Union Square, was the transportation mode of choice going to Pier 39.
It would be the first time to take this ride. Besides taxi riding is getting to be a habit and expensive. Our designated tour guide for the day was Mia C. who showed us how easy it is to navigate the city.
A few bus stops and a straight line from point A to B, we had a view of the bayside on a cloudless day with the sun shining brightly as if it was just as exited as we were. Call it a very warm welcome for us San Francisco virgins.
The Fisherman's Wharf was not was I expected it to be. I would have thought it was a long ramp leading to the waterway and the restos and gift shops would be on stilts. It was not and in fact it looked like a waterfront arcade and indeed very exciting for tourists.
Sea lions converge on floating platforms was a nice sight, truly a one of a kind in a bustling metropolis such as San Francisco. A complete opposite of how people flit in a speed of light due to work and they, the big sea creatures, are just lazing and basking under the sun.
Alcatraz, which we all know as the floating prison and now also a major tourist spot is in sight. This pier is also the jump off point for the scheduled sight-seeing tours to the island. That will take a couple of hours and we declined to do. On another visit perhaps.
Strolling around the wooden planks of the Pier 39 is like walking in an open air mall. Souvenir shops are luring everyone into their webs. Each shop has its own great theme and their wares are so irresistible that you end up buying something you don't even need. But if as a golden rule, if it make you happy, then go for it. Shopping itself, no matter what you buy, is always food for the soul.
And speaking of food, it's lunchtime and time to try that legendary clam chowder. Take note of the advice- don't just order an ordinary clam chowder, it has to be served in sourdough and not in a regular soup bowl. Ok that's what we all had to start feeding our tired and hungry selves.
On a winter cool sunny day, hot soup is always a welcome meal to warm the body. Plus everything seems to be tastier when you are hungry. So I can say the clam chowder is really delicious. Joking aside, yes, it was a good soup.
With loads of photographs on the memory card, a refrigerator magnet and warm soup in my belly, this just about ends the visit to the Pier 39 a.k.a. the Fisherman's Wharf. It was fun. Check that on the list; let's move to the next item.