Thursday, June 02, 2011

Day Two: Ferry Building/Pier Walk

Fabulously refreshed morphed into totally famished, but I was determined to breakfast at The Ferry Building on the strength of several Facebook recommendations. We had fun figuring out the BART and happily discovered that our destination was a mere two stops. When we emerged, we could see the clock tower rising above the water, surrounded by little white kiosks for the farmer's market. "Why don't I remember this at all?" I asked David, mystified. Perhaps because the last time we were in SF, it was fronted by a freeway. Now that earthquake precautions have brought it down, it's like a whole new world along the piers.

I guess everyone else likes it, too, because soon we were nearly swallowed by the human crush pouring towards Blue Bottle coffee (sadly, I never got close enough.) But we did enjoy a fresh baguette from Acme Bread with warm, melty cheese and homemade preserves from Cowgirl Creamery while watching the birds wheel over the bay. Then we caught a free "SF City Guides" tour of the Ferry Building's history which was really nice, especially admiring the mosaic-covered Great Hall upstairs (no one was up there!) while giggling over the circa-'50s photos of its conversion (it's since been un-converted) to fluorescent-lit, shag-carpeted office cubicles.

The sky was spitting a bit, but being the optimistic San Diegans we are, we reckoned it would clear up and started walking towards Pier 39, the object being The Rocket Boat, a ride involving high speeds, Led Zeppelin and views of the city from under the Bay Bridge. It was warm and lovely on this leg, with views of Coit Tower and Telegraph Hill peeking from behind the buildings. About half-way there, we saw a big sign: "CHOCOLATE TOUR--FREE!" with an arrow pointing to a warehouse on the edge of the pier. Well, we're not idiots, so we followed the arrow into a sweet little shop featuring treats for sale and the tour, starting in half an hour.

Well, it was interesting. And I use that in the sense that nine out of 10 people who visit my Nia class for the first time use it. We had a very enthusiastic little bespectacled gal for a guide, who sequestered us behind a curtain to watch a video about what cacao beans look like in the wild (gross) and what they look like after fermenting (grosser) and then we had to nibble some bitter seeds and try not to whack each other while passing around giant wooden paddles imported from Ghana. After the surprisingly long lecture about the integrity of real chocolate during which I struggled to stay awake, there was the much anticipated tour of the factory, which turned out to be about 10 feet long, though it did smell good, but whether or not there was chocolate being produced I couldn't confirm since I didn't see any chocolate river or candy trees or anything. Then, 90 minutes later, it was finally time for the much-anticipated tasting, about which I was already crestfallen since I'd learned they only make dark chocolate, in six varieties (but NO ADDITIVES, people!) including "Earthy" "Floral" "Fruity" and the "Well, Yeah." prize for "Chocolatey." Fruity was the best, but it was still gross, and though we were only given a rabbit-pellet sized portion of each, I passed mine to David after a lick. We did learn that they make all the dark chocolate bars for Starbucks, so next time you're at the register paying for your latte, pick one up and look. Or buy one if you like that yucky dark chocolate taste--it's all natural.

Back out on the sidewalk, I was getting hungry and it was still a long walk to Fisherman's Wharf, but we pushed on. When we finally got there, the line for the Rocket Boat was absurd and--in general--the amount of people groping for clam chowder and commemorative shot glasses was undealable. I am so over Piers 39 through 47. I suggested we walk even further to Ghirardelli Square, as I believed there would be some tasty lunch options there. But getting there used up my last ounce of blood sugar, and all we saw was more chocolate. And cupcakes. Believe it or not, I can't eat cupcakes when I'm starving. We thought about jumping on the cable car back to our neck of the woods, but the jumping plan would have to wait until the hour-long line died down. The sky was darkening and the drops were growing more aggressive and I realized I was near tears. I get that way when I haven't eaten. Someone had the smart idea to get a soft pretzel and a Coke, and after we shared those I could feel my personality returning.

Apparently not enough to make me smart again, though, because my next plan was to walk back to the Ferry Building and get "lunch" (it was like 4:00) at Gott's Roadside, a diner we'd first tried in Napa and swooned over. "Are you sure?" David asked. "It's like three miles." I was sure.

We started walking. It started misting, full-time. Which turned to light rain. Then steady rain. And then driving rain. We were wearing t-shirts, no umbrellas. We walked. We got wet. Eventually we got cold. Surprisingly for me, I didn't complain much. There was no point. I got very quiet except for the occasional snorfle of rain water that had leaked down my face and off my nose into my mouth. And the squelch of my sodden shoes. (My shoes and purse took two days to dry, and even my bra was soaked through.) The saddest part was a couple miles in when I realized with great certainty that we would not be having a hot, delicious lunch at Gott's Roadside because no one was going to serve us in this state. I announced as much, and David sadly agreed.

We hopped the BART for the last little bit and, if anything, it was even worse to be given a wide berth by all the normal, dry people while we dripped all over the seats and stared into the middle distance like we'd recently been rescued from a boating accident and were now suffering from PTSD. I am happy to say I still had the presence of mind to squelch into the Walgreens next to our hotel for snacks and bubble bath ("This one says relieves stress and tension...I think that's what we want") and--needlessly, as it turned out--umbrellas.

Even though we never got any lunch, the wet, freezing walk was almost worth it when I sank neck-deep in the scalding, frothy tub with bubbles singing in my ears. The kind people at Hotel Palomar had no idea what a good deed they did that day.

Again with the holiday weekend theme--we couldn't find a single Open Table reservation at a decent time, but we certainly weren't going to miss dinner as well as lunch. The hotel restaurant, Fifth Floor, was also full, but they treated us like royalty in the bar/lounge, complete with a halibut "amuse bouche" courtesy of the chef. We shared a salad, a burger and about 8,000 fries, but strangely, I wasn't very hungry. My feet, however, were extremely grateful that our evening plans involved a walk directly across the street and no further: to the Metreon to see Bridesmaids.

One more holiday kvetch: we had to sit in the front row. The whole time I was convinced there was something terribly wrong with Kristen Wiig's left nostril. Now I realize it was just the angle. When the movie ended around 11:00, I was perfectly content to curl up with my book and once again drift away cushioned by the white cloud of the freakishly comfortable bed. I miss that bed.

1 comment:

Aunt LoLo said...

Oooh...sorry about the rain storm. :-( That's no fun!