Walking the San Francisco Embarcadero

January 20, 2015

A foggy morning

Many San Francisco mornings start with fog. It’s why the place is sometimes called Fog City.  The fog wreaks havoc with my fine, curly hair which I take great pains to straighten every morning, but I don’t care. It’s moody and evocative and it fits in with the way I live in my head.  I’ve done some of my best writing in the fog and also the only poetry I’ve ever had published was written on a foggy morning wandering around North Beach.  On Sunday, this was the scene that greeted us as we began our day with a long walk on the Embarcadero. It didn’t matter, because walking the San Francisco Embarcadero is something we love to do.

2015-01-18 10.54.53I love the pattern and the fog.

walking-San-Francisco-EmbarcaderoThat’s the Ferry Building, the one with the clocktower. We were eventually headed there, but first, a walk.  The Embarcadero is a great walk in itself, linear and waterfront, with an interesting surrounding ‘hood.

2015-01-18 10.59.24The bow and arrow sculpture is a familiar sight to residents and frequent visitors like us. In fact, I’ve been crawling along The Embarcadero in traffic so thick and time-consuming I’ve gotten to know every bit of this sculpture.

2015-01-18 11.00.39I’m a sucker for a cute dog, especially one with a tennis ball in its mouth. I have no idea if the man is cute or not but the dog sure is.

SF fireAnd a shiny, immaculate red fire truck. I sent up a little prayer for my special friend of 30 years, Paul, a retired fireman who died last month, too young and too tragically. Paul, I think of you all the time and hope you have found peace. Your sweetness is making heaven a better place.

2015-01-18 11.05.11At the fire station, this sign made me stop for a moment and think about how hard it would be for a mother to give up her baby. And also about the need for a “safe surrender site.”

2015-01-18 09.51.34City handbills.

2015-01-18 10.58.03Unique sea sculptures along the way.

2015-01-18 11.00.04 2015-01-18 10.59.51Some 30 years ago, all my tomorrows lay west. Yes, for me it really was the bay of destiny.

2015-01-18 10.52.25

Wandering around the adjacent ‘hood, this beautiful corner site.

2015-01-18 10.50.37

A little art deco pretty.

2015-01-18 11.18.22As we walked along the waterfront, I had to have a cup of coffee at Red’s Java House, the place Anthony Bourdain called “The antidote to Alice Waters.”    Waiting in line, we caught sight of this little retro sign and no, we did not drop our pants. Would you?

2015-01-18 11.18.40


And this. Why was a mugshot of “Tanya” posted in a tiny dive on The Embarcadero, framed and everything?  It remains a  mystery. If you know the answer, spill it!  Patty is now a 61-year-old matron whom I saw last year at a party and will see again soon. Her hair is very blonde and her face appears much younger than 61. Much. Very much. Just saying.

2015-01-18 11.05.22After coffee, boys gotta find one. Fortunately, San Francisco provides.  (They were just window shopping.) These are convenient, but they are on a timer and when it’s time to leave, you’d better hustle out or you’ll be sanitized by the auto-spray. Fair warning!

2015-01-18 11.09.43It was morning, but the Hi Dive was already open and taking customers. Its doors opened in the 1930s as a bar and restaurant called the Boondocks.  Rumor has it this used to be where gay men cruised sailors back in the day. In 2004 new owners took over and renamed it. But it still looks old and the name could easily go back 100 years.  Too early for us, though. A visit to the Hi Dive would have to wait.

2015-01-18 11.42.18Of course, we ended up at the Ferry Building, now home to restaurants and shops (mostly foodstuffs), all very high-end and expensive.

2015-01-18 11.46.55But no shortage of customers. Long lines, especially for Blue Bottle Coffee.

2015-01-18 11.34.46Nice sign, isn’t it?

2015-01-18 11.35.18The funghi are always a picture–so many varieties with names I’ve never heard of. Like Lion’s Mane.

2015-01-18 11.36.21All sorts of spirited drinks in a lovely display. Most of the shops displayed their beautifully packaged goods in such an attractive manner I wondered if the same consultant worked with them all.

2015-01-18 11.43.49

Pretty little cookies.

2015-01-18 11.43.38Crazy about the logo and colors.


2015-01-18 11.39.46Whaddaya think? Would you have some?

2015-01-18 11.44.26Another appealing logo.

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Ice cream deemed a “secret breakfast” sounds good to me!

2015-01-18 11.51.21This organic soft-serve was nothing to write home about, especially since home is home to the rich and luxurious Abbott’s custard.  This one was even a bit gritty.

2015-01-18 11.41.46Bath products called Moksha were irresistible, especially in their pretty little packaging. In Hinduism, Moksha is the transcendent state reached when someone is released from the cycle of rebirth.

Back outside in the fog, we savored the transcendent state that walking San Francisco’s Embarcadero put us in and headed back to the car.




46 comments on “Walking the San Francisco Embarcadero
  1. What great photos! Love San Francisco. We were riding a bus and a guy got on and shouted, “Everybody thank the bus driver. It’s not an easy job.” Lots of personality and personalities in that city.

  2. Fog is part and parcel of the City by the Bay, isn’t it? Oh, how I love it!
    Well, not the fog.
    But visiting the city!
    And yes, I can see where fog is conducive to good writing: Nature’s way of helping you narrow your focus!

  3. Hi Carol! Thanks for the tour. I haven’t walked the Embarcadero in years so this was a real treat! Your photos were the next best thing to being there. Thanks. ~Kathy

  4. Thanks for the tour….I love San Francisco. We were there in June, but spent most of our time in Chinatown.

  5. It’s funny we would cover the same city on the same day! I love your pictures and how you take us on a tour! I feel as if I have visited there today.

  6. The story of a city told through pics. Love it.

  7. Great pictures and I loved walking the Embarcadero virtually with you this morning. Hope to do it together IRL one day!

  8. I’ve always wanted to visit San Francisco. Love the photos and the journaling of the experience. Really transports me. I didn’t know there were auto spray toilets anywhere in the US. That cracked me up! And YES! I’d definitely try some salty pig parts!

  9. Linda Roy says:

    So great to be back there – if only through pictures. Oh the fog! We stayed at Cavallo Point one night because our hotel gave up our reservation and sent us there (fortunately!) and when we woke up and looked out the big picture window, it was all fog…then the fog parted and there was the Golden Gate bridge. Magical. Loved your photos!

  10. Roz Warren says:

    Lovely. My son and daughter-in-law live in the Bay area and you’ve inspired me. We’re definitely going to take this walk the next time I visit them. Assuming, of course, that we can take the Bichons.

  11. Risa says:

    Nice strollin’ with you! I’ve certainly done that walk–but it’s nice to see it through someone else’s eyes. Meetcha over there sometime!

  12. Haralee says:

    The pictures are all great. The fog shots are extraordinary. They look like romantic black and whites. SF, take a piece of everyone’s heart!

  13. Thank you for the Embarcadero stroll, Carol! You described it so well, I felt like I was there!

    I too, LOVE the SF fog… always have. Early memories of the fog rolling over the hills from the Cliff House/Zoo side, and across the Sutro Tower crest. I still remember the SF Embarcadero area from the late 1950s-early 1960s. Grungy, seedy, old deserted pier warehouses, like a set from an old b&w Warner Brothers film noir production. You locked your car doors until you could get to Fisherman’s Wharf. But the FOG. The wonderfully chilly and haunting fog! Great stuff!

  14. Ruth Curran says:

    I love San Francisco and, as I read your words and looked at your photos, I had some really great things to mention. Then you said “Abbott’s” and I lost track of all thought not related to salivating and yearning :)!!!

  15. I feel as though I’ve just been on this stroll with you. Thanks as its unlikely I”ll get to go in person. You’ve given me another reason to just get outside and stroll. Create a photo essay is now on my bucket list.

  16. Laurel Regan says:

    Absolutely loved this post! You’ve made me want to visit San Francisco again – I’ve only been there once, but it was memorable and I adored the city. Sure wish I’d had time to tack a side trip on to my visit to San Jose for BlogHer ’14! Thanks for sharing your experience along with these great photos.

  17. Alana says:

    Oh palm trees, be still my upstate New York heart! Art Deco architecture! Secret breakfasts! I have been in the San Francisco airport (en route from Portland, Or to NYC) but never in the city. In fact, the only city in California I’ve ever visited was San Diego – lovely in its own ways, but not like this.

  18. Michelle says:

    OMG I love these pictures! Gorgeous!!!

  19. Janie Emaus says:

    I love San Francisco. I’ll be there in about a month for a wedding shower and hope to take in some of the sights.

  20. Lana says:

    Love, love San Francisco. I was born in Berkeley and spent my first five years in San Francisco. Introduced my husband to the city on our honeymoon, and we’ve been back many times. Love all the fun pictures you took!

  21. I love all your photographs! Very beautiful and artistic.

  22. Leslie says:

    Wow, what a cool place to see! I love reading travel posts because I’m in NC & I may never get to CA. I love the bow & arrow and the safe surrender.

  23. Great post about SF and great photos! It seems rare not to have some fog there. That fog in the summertime coupled with the hot temps in Sacramento make for epic windsurfing in the Sacramento River delta! Thanks for sharing on #TheLeisureLink!

  24. Michele says:

    I love your experience of seeing everyday things with a fresh viewpoint. I would eat the ice crean cone in a heartbeat! I have been to San Francisco a couple of times and i remember seeing lots of street art and interesting graphics on the sides of buildings. Fun!

  25. Stephanie says:

    That ice cream cone looks great! I traveled a little bit in the US, but I still have not been to San Francisco. It is on my list though! (that endless list of places to visit! 😉 ). I really enjoyed your post.

  26. Nancy says:

    Your photos were so entertaining. San Francisco looks like an amazing city. I hope I get to visit someday. The bow and arrow statue was particularly cool!

  27. Tessa says:

    Looks like a fun place for a trip. I have never been to that side of the country. I am an east coast girl.

  28. how apropos… on my way up to San Fran this weekend. I, too, will be doing a little walking around. good pics.

  29. Hi Carol, this wonderful post was the most clicked on Week 11 of The Leisure Link! Congratulations…a post well worth reading 🙂

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