Fisherman's Wharf

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate September 2001

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Fisherman's Wharf Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California is America's best known, busiest, and most profitable tourist attraction. And most of all, it draws the most visitors in the Bay Area. Tourist can see world famous sea lions and the cold lonely prison known as Alcatraz. While rolling down in cable cars on winding streets, they can also enjoy a hot bread bowl filled with white creamy clam chowder. Fisherman's Warf lies on Pier 39, where you can shop for souvenirs, watch street performers, and view the mighty Golden Gate Bridge. Fisherman's Wharf certainly delivers the fun it promises. However, for me, its most fantastic aspect is that everything seems so perfect¾or almost everything.

Every building, object, and decoration is sparkling clean. Take the Embarcadero Street for example. Visitors driving from Pacific Bell Park to Pier 39 cannot help but notice the gleaming paint on every well-kept building. Right down to their blue and white signs of Pier 39 is the entrance to over 100 specialty shops, 10 restaurants and family attractions including Turbo Ride and the Venetian Carousel are freshly painted and repaired several times a year.

Every window, street lamp, and display is free of smudges. In fact, white-suited maintenance workers rush to pick up any litter, including droppings left by seagulls that fly and wonder above Pier 39. Each night, of all Pier 39's boats are hosed down and scrubbed.

The dining here is equally flawless. Restaurants are good and plentiful with a rich diversity of cuisine. The food here differs from any other you have ever eaten. Here no one stops chomping or drinking. Almost every table is occupied. You can clearly hear clinking and squeaking sounds from forks and knifes. Tasty sourdough bread bowl filled with white creamy clam chowder, bright, orange colored crab legs as well as shrimp cocktails serve red at every table. Dressed in spotless uniforms, the fit, attractive waiters hold their trays at perfect angle. Everything here is strut in unison. And for dessert, Ghiradelli is the right place to be. Their homemade hot fudge sauce is what makes their sundaes famous. Two scoops of super premium vanilla ice cream smothered with their homemade hot fudge sauce, crowned with whipped cream, chopped almonds and a whole cherry. This sundae appears in sync with perfectly modulated taste.

Visible from the waterfront, its beacon flashing eerily in the fog, the prison island of Alcatraz is commonly know as "The Rock." This rock is no ordinary rock; it is one of the most arresting sights, sitting in the bay like some dark villainous fairy-tale dungeon. It sits isolated amidst the cold winds of the bay. Up close, this fairy-tale is no fairy-tale. Its grayish dark, empty buildings contain evidences from real notorious criminals that were locked up here during the 1960s. Thick, intense smells of mould and muddy ground surface creates a creepy atmosphere. Heavy, swirling fog preventing the sunlight to peek in makes this dark dungeon even more terrifying. Plus the strong wind blowing against the walls making hollowing sounds will set a chill down your back. Although Alcatraz seems to be daunting, it is part of being perfect; it provides the trip that visitors will never forget.

The all-too human visitors, thousands of whom come to gape and marvel, bring reality into this paradise. They grumble and fidget looking for parking, and then jam into attractions like The Turbo Ride at Pier 39 and fight their heads in to see the shouting sea lions on the deck. They dribble clam chowder on their shirts, walk into other people while they are taking pictures, shout at their crying children, and glare suspiciously if a stranger jostles their pocketbook.

I watched one couple dressed in "I Love San Francisco" T-shirts plop themselves at the end of an empty row at the Turbo Ride show, and then hiss obscenities at every one who was forced to climb over them. Of course, we visitors are not all young or beautiful either. I am a case in point, a pimpled, scrawny girl who neither dresses nor carries herself very well.

At Fisherman's Wharf, it occurred to me that I like imperfection. As the lights dimmed right on cue for yet another action simulation performance, I notice a mist of dandruff on the shoulders of the woman in front of me, and I feel fine.