Or fun with a camera.
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I was in San Francisco last week for Macworld Expo. In the old days, I used to spend every day at the show. Nowadays, I’m more interested in seeing things outside the exhibit hall. With a half day to spend on my own, I took the cable car from Market and Powell to Fisherman’s Wharf. Here are some of the photos I took that morning.
I started my day just after sunrise at the corner of Powell and Market, five or six blocks from Moscone Hall, where Macworld Expo is held each year. This is the terminus for two of San Francisco’s three cable car lines. The photo here shows one of the cable car drivers turning the car around for the trip back to Fisherman’s Wharf. Although the photo is distorted (because of that darn fisheye lens I like so much), the ground here is relatively level. They manually push the car onto the turntable and turn it, then push it back onto the main track. After paying off a homeless person for telling me that I could buy my ticket on the cable car — it was either that or buy a newspaper I didn’t want to carry — and assuring another homeless person that I didn’t need him to take a photo of me and the cable car with my camera, I climbed on board.
The cable car took off up Powell a while later with a surprising number of people on board. The corner of Market and Powell isn’t far from the BART station and apparently the cable car is a valid mode of transportation for commuters. There certainly weren’t many tourists on board at 7:30 AM. We climbed up Powell, dropping off passengers here and there. I took this photo when the car was nearly empty. Again, there’s some distortion from the fisheye lens, but I think it’s a cool shot of the cable car and its driver.
The car deposited me at Bay Street about two blocks from Fisherman’s Wharf. From there, I wandered around, taking photos of the area. The sun was too low to get the shots I wanted, so went in search of breakfast. Boudin’s Bakery was there and I stepped inside. I love freshly baked bread, but I was on a diet and trying hard to avoid excess carbs. But I did get a good photo op when I saw this “Bread Line” sign. It was just too ironic for me to pass up.
Back outside at the Wharf with the sun still too low for shadow-free photos, I asked one of the fish guys where I could get a good breakfast in a place the tourists didn’t go. He pointed up the street to a “hole in the wall” called Darren’s Cafe. While waiting for my meal, I snapped this weird self-portrait with that fisheye lense. I don’t look happy here, probably because I knew the camera was shooting a picture up my nose.
After breakfast, I strolled north along the wharf area, stopping a few times to take photos of the fishing boats. Unlike most tourists, I didn’t stick to the well-trodden places. I poked around on all the piers, taking my time and seeing as many different things from as many different angles as I could. It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies and light wind. Not very cold, either. Here are a few of my more interesting shots in that area.
After a while, I found myself in Aquatic Park, which is part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. There are a number of old, art deco buildings there and the light was just right to get creative with some shapes and shadows on a round building that used to house a public restroom. A flight of stairs curved up the side of the building to an observation deck on top. But the views from up there didn’t interest me as much as the stairs, shown here.
From the park, there were sweeping views of San Francisco Bay. But the best views were obviously from the curving arm of the Municipal Pier. So I took off on foot along the long, crumbling concrete and steel pier. The only people on the pier were a handful of Asian fisherman, although when I reached the remains of the building at the far end, another tourist pedaled up on a bicycle. We had a short chat before I walked back. Here are the photos I took along the way. They show, in order, the rust of steel embedded in the concrete, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz.
It was nearly 10 AM by the time I got off the pier. I had to check out of my hotel by 1:30 PM, but I had a few errands to take care of on the way back. So I walked up to the cable car terminus at Hyde, which is just a few blocks away. By this time, the tourists were coming out and there was about a dozen people waiting. I snapped a series of photos of the cable car being turned. If I look at them quickly in sequence, they look like a movie. Here are five of the six shots in miniature:
On the way back to the Union Square area, I had a nice conversation with a woman who lives in San Francisco and uses the cable car to commute back and forth to work across the city. I couldn’t help but be envious. How wonderful it would be to ride in an open seat through such a beautiful city every day.