Embarcadero Bike Ride, San Francisco

Caltrain Station in San Francisco

Caltrain Station in San Francisco

Something Tom and I have been wanting to do for sometime is to take our bikes into

San Francisco and take a ride once again along the Embarcadero. Today is the day. The weather forecast is warm (unlike on the east coast and in the Midwest where they are experiencing some of the worst winter storms in decades).

(Click on the photos for larger versions)

We left home at 7 am, with the bikes firmly attached to the bike rack, and drove up to Milbrae. We did consider taking the train all the way but the journey takes one and a half hours, so we compromised by driving part way. This will be the first time we have taken the bikes on Caltrains, so it will be an adventure.

AT&T Park and Giants fans lining for Fan Fest Day

AT&T Park and Giants fans lining for Fan Fest Day

The whole train experience was not too bad. Parking was easy and at the weekend there is no charge. To buy tickets we had to take the elevator up. Round trip tickets to the city were $8 each. Then it was down in another elevator to the platform. We had a fifteen minute wait for the train. I noticed that there were quite a few fellow passengers wearing SF Giants apparel so we asked someone if there was something special going on at AT&T Park. Indeed there was. Today is Fans Fest day and were told the train would be packed.

On Caltrains, the first and fourth carriages are for bikes. We got into the first carriage and there were a lot of bikes but we managed to squeeze ours in. Upstairs there was a single row of seats on both sides. There was just one on each side so Tom and I sat separately. At each stop, more and more Giants fans boarded the train. That is going to be one excited gathering, all of them eager to celebrate the Giant’s success in the World Series.

Note from Tom: Baseball  is quintessentially American.  But the nerve of us calling it the “World Series”.  I know it doesn’t make much sense but the game, in person, is wonderful.  Our San Francisco Giants are the best of the best and it’s the first time this has happened in over fifty years.

At the terminal we waited until most of the passengers had disembarked before we left the train. The platform was a mass of grey, orange and black. As it might be some time before we find another restroom, I decided to pay a visit at the station. Fifteen minutes later I made my way back to Tom. Once on King Street, we walked our bikes on the sidewalk looking for coffee. There was a line outside Starbucks so we walked on. The crowds outside the ballpark filled the sidewalk. We did plan to take a ride round the back to take a look at the park but it was impossible to get through the people.

Looking across the bay to the Port of Oakland

Looking across the bay to the Port of Oakland

We stopped for coffee at Cafe Pasquita. It was a good choice. even though it was right opposite the ballpark, it wasn’t crowded. We sat at a table in the window so we could keep an eye on our bikes. The seats were white leather and comfortable. Tom had his usual black coffee and I had hot chocolate. Then it was back to pushing our bikes. On the other side of the road the line of fans stretched almost to the Bay Bridge. At Townsend we crossed the road and attempted to get to the back of the ballpark but once again we were thwarted. Just too many people. Tom stopped to take photos and I found a convenient seat and got out my iPad. Nearby there were some fitness fanatics exercising under the watchful eyes of a couple of trainers. A sign informed me that they are members of Body Mechanix. Looks like far too much hard work for me! It was hot sitting there with the sun beating down. It is turning out to be a glorious day.

Pier 14. Just sittin' on the dock of the bay, wasting time.  Life is tough.

Pier 14. Just sittin' on the dock of the bay, wasting time. Life is tough.

Our next stop was almost under the Bay Bridge between Red’s Java House and the Hi Dive bar. Tom pointed out the old clock on the front of the Hi Dive with it’s neon sign advertising Belfast Water. The seat I sat on had a clear view of the cranes at the Port of Oakland on the other side of the bay.

Some of these old haunts will have to make way for the redevelopment coming when San Francisco hosts the America’s Cup races in 2013.

Once past the Bay Bridge we stopped again. We noticed two new buildings and I went to investigate. They were brand new restaurants – Waterfront and Epic. They both look worthy of a visit when we are up in the city for an evening meal. Tom took photos of the huge bow and arrow sculpture. The backdrop behind it were high rise buildings.

The Embarcadero in San Francisco and the sculpture called Cupid's Span

The Embarcadero in San Francisco and the sculpture called Cupid's Span

Just before the ferry building we halted again at the end of Pier 14. At the beginning of the pier were some paintings on tiles of assorted watercraft. The pier is lined with single, metal swiveling chairs. While Tom took photos I sat on one of the chairs and it was fun. With very little effort on my part I was revolving at great speed. I bet the kids love these seats. You get a remarkable 360 degree view of the bay. From there I had a good view of the ferry building and the farmers market which is held every Saturday.

There is a new sculpture on the Embarcadero called ‘The Raygun Gothic Rocketship’ which is part of a revolving display of sculptures which are displayed at this spot. This one is by a group of artists and the sculpture was placed in position by Five Ton Crane (5TC). There was a stand nearby called Local Earth with a time table displayed which gave the impression you could travel to Mars, Jupiter 3, Centaurus, Pluto and Europa.

Cycling past the Ferry Building we noticed that the stalls are now not only behind the building but in front as well. It is a very popular place to be on a Saturday and there were many people busily shopping. Street entertainers amused the crowds. It was about here that three stretch limos passed us with an escort of police motorcyclists. I wonder who is in town?

Transamerica building taken from Pier 7 along the Embarcadero in San Francisco

Transamerica building taken from Pier 7 along the Embarcadero in San Francisco

We took a detour along the waterfront on a public promenade, passing various ships including the paddle-ship ‘San Francisco Belle’ and the ‘Hornblower’ dinner cruise ship. Further along we rode out onto Pier 7 with its rough timber plank walkway. At the end were benches so I once again sat down and started typing. There was a lot going on. Pilots boats were moored at the adjacent pier and we watched one pull in and moor up. A fire boat passed by and a noisy jet ski screamed round the pier. Cycling back towards the Embarcadero there were good views of the Transamerica Pyramid and Coit Tower.

We cycled as far as the turning for North Beach. There we turned round and made our way back to the train station, taking a couple of short detours along the way. Tom was searching for a good spot to get a photo of the Transamerica Pyramid but all to no avail. There was a lot of traffic around. As we passed the Ferry Building, the clock struck 12. It sounded a lot like Big Ben. There was still a large crowd outside the ballpark and more people turning up as well. A lot of fans though were making their way home. The combination of people and traffic was a bit chaotic.

As we were hungry, we stopped again at Cafe Pasquita. This time we sat outside under an arcade. It felt good to get out of the sun. We sat there enjoying a sandwich, listening to the loudspeaker from the ballpark and watching the people walk by. The journey from there back to Milbrae went smoothly.

What an absolutely fantastic day we had. The weather was unbelievable and we saw lots of intriguing, amusing and downright beautiful sights.

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