Today involved a trip to Fisherman's Wharf and its surrounds. This area is even more of a tourist Mecca than Union Square and has evolved into a fully functioning tourist trap. Any non-tourist round here is either at work (in the tourist industry) or has way too much spare time and money. There are certainly no fishermen there. Since Linda and I were tourists, we felt it was appropriate to be there. We would like to thank Christine for sacrificing her day off to guide us through the tourist zone.
The only other reason to go near this place is that the dreaded Christmas approaches and this is the land of the gift shop. Even to the extent of having Christmas shops. Not shops that sell Christmas presents, but shops that sell Christmas decoration stuff. All year round. And not just one shop selling shiny, glittery, red and green stuff, multiple shops. Imagine the horror of working in a shop like that all year...
Of course, getting to Fisherman's Wharf involved using cable cars. In a region where many of the streets reach forty-five degree inclines, using cables rather than traction with the road surface does make sense. Especially considering the earlier disastrous experiments resulting in horse drawn carriages complete with horses sliding backwards down the hill into the bay.
The modern day development of pneumatic rubber tyres does leave a sense of antiquity and plain silliness to a system using steel cables under the road and trams that alternately grab and release the cable to start and stop. This is achieved by the driver hauling on either the brake or go-faster levers. There is also a second brake driver at the other end. These guys also seem to have degrees in being entertaining to tourists.
Finally, you have the option of riding the cable cars by standing on
the outside step and hanging from a handrail. Given the obvious dangers,
you've got to wonder how this system survives here in litigation land where
even a door is covered in warnings and disclaimers. Add this to the cables,
the trams, the drivers and you don't get public transport, you get a theme
park ride in the middle of the city. Maybe this is how to make public transport
viable in general, add loop-the-loops to the Lilydale line...
California has this great law that all pubs and restaurants are no smoking areas. So lunchtime led us to a pub. This place had its own range of specially brewed beers. So ordering a drink to go with the meal went like this:
Me: Do you have apple juice?
Him: No, sorry.
Me (reading menu): Hmmm....
Him: You could try one of our beers! (pointing to the list of them)
Me: How about a lemonade.
Him: Not a beer?
Me: No thank, lemonade will be fine.
(He heads off unimpressed)
It was almost like dealing with Talky Toaster*.
But seriously, the service was great, the food was great and they did let me have lemonade.
* Alert! Red Dwarf reference! (back)