San Francisco: The City by the Bay

Only three weeks after arriving home from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the travel bug has beckoned me down the west coast to the city of San Francisco. Audrey, Michelle and I are travelling with Sharon and Steve (our university teachers) and attending the American Geophysical Union 2013 Fall Meeting. We are presenting our posters composed out of the research we conducted at WHOI.

We flew out of Bellingham airport Saturday morning leaving behind unseasonably cold -15 degree Celsius weather. We arrived at Oakland airport an hour and a half later and were welcomed by 9 degree weather. It didn’t sound too warm for sunny California, but I’ll definitely take it! Since the meeting does not officially start until Monday, we had the weekend to explore parts of the city. Once we settled into our hotel located at Fisherman’s Wharf, we decided to check out the Wharf as well as Pier 39. Loads of street entertainers and performers lined the docks and the shops were bustling with tourists.

This morning began with a trip to Ghiradelli Square where we were literally like kids in a candy shop. Shelves and shelves of chocolates lined the walls of the Ghiradelli market. I must admit that we didn’t survive the allure of a room full of chocolate. Audrey and I gave in just a little or maybe a lot.

After purchasing our week-long transit pass, Audrey and I made our way across town to the Palace of Fine Arts. I saw a photograph on the internet of the site and just knew I wanted to visit it! The Palace of Fine Arts was designed by Bernard Maybeck and built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exposition. As it was intended only as a temporary structure for the duration of the exposition, it needed to be rebuilt to ensure its permanence (which occurred in 1965). The integration of architecture and nature is one of the palace’s most notable features. The natural elements tend to soften the buildings hard edges. The style of architecture made it feel as if we were transported to a far-off place in Europe. It was fun place to relax and explore away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

We perused our way through Chinatown on our way to Coit Tower and Telegraph Hill. Unfortunately we found out that Coit Tower is closed until Spring 2014 due to ongoing construction. With plans changed, we diverted to San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park on Hyde Street Pier. We walked along the pier and passed historic ships including the Balclutha and CA Thayer. It was on this pier that I was approached by a student who was interviewing people around Fisherman’s Wharf for a school project. He asked me several questions and videotaped my answers regarding the recent granting of a little boy’s wish to be Batkid. You might have heard about the story as it was on the news where the Make a Wish Foundation turned San Francisco into Gotham City. I was quite taken off guard and am pretty sure that I forgot everything I said just as soon as the words left my mouth. Audrey was lucky and escaped the snare of the video camera, haha.

In our attempt to follow signs to Fort Mason, Audrey and I made our way along the Municipal Pier where we were bombarded by icy winds and accompanied by countless seagulls perched on railings. We continued on along the shore and made a second (fruitless) attempt to find Fort Mason. We made the assumption that we could see the roof of the Fort, but we really had no idea. We were, however, rewarded with beautiful golden light as the sun was beginning to set over the Bay. I must say that the location of our hotel just a block away from Fisherman’s Wharf makes it the ideal location for sightseeing away from the bustling downtown area.

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