Adventures in Chinatown

Street art in San Francisco Chinatown

Street art in San Francisco Chinatown

Today we brought the in-laws around San Francisco. Normally I don’t dare venture to bastions of banality such as Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown but today such fare was featured prominently on the menu. Throw in a Go-Car tour, a Cable Car ride (and even an asses and elbows Muni ride – the most authentic San Francisco experience of the day by far) and a trip down Lombard Street and you are talking about a full day of the worst kind of mind numbing tourism.

As much as I could bitch and moan about playing the typical tourist in a city that I have lived in for near 30 years, once in a while it can be entertaining to just put away the holier than thou chip on the shoulder for a day. Every great while it is perfectly okay just enjoy the sights through fresh eyes and realize that people travel from many states and countries around the world to get the experiences that San Francisco offers.

Since I live here, I did not take too many traditional tourist photographs but instead shot a few whimsical pics of the tourist shops and other stuff that made me laugh or created a reaction to me. Below are a few of these. Don’t hold any lack of intrinsic artistic value against me, I was just along for the ride today and trying to make the best of the situation.

The weather was spectacular with high 60’s and clear skies for the early day. As part of our initial Go-Car ride (think two seat fiberglass body over motorcycle engine with gps audio tour through San Francisco) we ended up at Fort point where I took this black and white photo that I was rather pleased with:

Black and White of Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point.

Black and White of Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point.

Then curvy Lombard Street awaited and this picture was taken from the top right as we were about to go down. As you can see the views of Coit Tower in the distance as well as the San Francisco bay were spectacular.

View of Lombard Street, San Francisco from the top.

View of Lombard Street, San Francisco from the top.

After taking the 180 minute tour we ended up at Fisherman’s Wharf and had lunch at the In-N-Out Burger. If you have never had this Southern California born fast food experience, they always draw a crowd and the menu is very simple (although there are off menu selections that you can order if you know the code. )

The In-N-Out menu is simple but classic.

The In-N-Out menu is simple but classic.

After eating our lunch we stumbled onto a candy store with a bunch of gag gifts. One in particular caught my attention. It reminded me of the old Tootsie Roll Pop commercial – “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?”.

sweet spot grab

From the Wharf we took the Powell street cable car line up the hill to Chinatown so our guests could complete the holy triumvirate of tourism in San Francisco. This is the Wharf, the Cable Car, and Chinatown. If you have never been to my fair city then that may sound absolutely incredible but for locals that is a day they would rather spend at the dentist getting a root canal. Chinatown is a mix of a few real local shops consisting of herbs and foods, some real local restaurants (that most folks would NOT want to eat in – far too authentic, trust me. No broccoli beef at these places) with the rest of the area pure tourist gift shop shlock.

These are good luck tokens that Chinese put in their stores for bounty.

These are good luck tokens that Chinese put in their stores for bounty.

It was a long day and one that I hope not to repeat any time in the next few years but still we managed to have a good time and our guests enjoyed themselves immensely. If you have never visited San Francisco, by all means see the sights and hit the tourist spots but if you are a repeat visitor, try to find some lesser known areas to explore and I am certain that you will enjoy those as well.

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