Baghdad by the Bay 

Mission Bay Trail, San Francisco, California

Sailboats and the Mission Trail pass under the Bay Bridge.

Sailboats and the Mission Trail pass under the Bay Bridge.

While visiting family in Vallejo, California, my Trusty Traveling Partner (a.k.a. my husband, Keith) and I took a ferry ride to San Francisco for a very urban hike in two neighborhoods new to us - The Mission and Dogpatch. Keith found a self-guided walking tour by Kristine Poggioli and Carolyn Edison, “Explore Dogpatch, South Beach, and the Embarcadero…” Having a map with descriptions of the area helped us focus on where to go. It gave us our itinerary for the day.

And what an amazingly beautiful day for an urban walkabout!

First stop, the Ferry Building.

First stop, the Ferry Building.

We approached the city from the bay via the ferry to the Ferry Building. We know this building well, and strolled through foodie heaven, checking out the cheese, wine, fish, bread, and mushrooms. A proverbial feast for the eyes. All beautifully presented, unique, and top quality! 

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We went south from the Ferry Building, along the Embarkadero. Our trail guide says that "Cupids Span was inspired by San Francisco's reputation as the home port of Eros, the Greek god of love," then under the San Francisco-Oakland  Bay Bridge.

Big art in an even bigger city.

Big art in an even bigger city.

We once attended a Giant's baseball back when it was called PacBell Park. As we walk around the stadium and along McCovey Cove, we lament that something was lost with the commercial naming of the stadium. Candlestick Park was always Candlestick Park. "This was PacBell Park. What is it called now?"  I ask. Oracle Park, for now. 

Hiking along McCovey Cove on the back side of the Oracle Park. Go Giants!

Hiking along McCovey Cove on the back side of the Oracle Park. Go Giants!

Near the shipyards, a small sign reads "Herb Caen Way." When Keith and I were students at Humboldt State, we enjoyed reading the San Francisco Chronical. My favorite part of "The Chron" was the weekly column by Herb Caen. Herb has since passed on, but he lives on as a beloved San Francisco author, philosopher, gossip, and satirist.  Herb always called San Francisco "Baghdad by the Bay."  I miss Herb. 

Pier 70 is owned by the Port of San Francisco and has been a hub of shipbuilding and repair for over 150 years. Now, this Historic Waterfront is filled with the construction of new high-rise apartments, new neighborhoods, new businesses. 

On one side of the road, the area is overgrown with weeds.

On one side of the road, the area is overgrown with weeds.

On the other side of the road, a shiny new Tesla sits in the new parking lot.

On the other side of the road, a shiny new Tesla sits in the new parking lot.

Lunch at The Ramp was a perfect place to stop and enjoy the sunshine, the bay breeze, and a beer or two. It definitely has its share of tourist traffic, but I felt it was authentic, historical, and a worthy destination. The sun was warm, the beer was cold, and the service was casual but attentive.

A stranger on the ferry recommend having lunch at “The Ramp.”

A stranger on the ferry recommend having lunch at “The Ramp.”

The trail is well marked, mapped and friendly.

The trail is well marked, mapped and friendly.

 
Major construction along the trail at historic Pier 70.

Major construction along the trail at historic Pier 70.

Street art with a sense of humor. How sweet!

Street art with a sense of humor. How sweet!

A city is a state - of mind, of taste, of opportunity. A city is a marketplace - where ideas are traded, opinions clash and eternal conflict may produce eternal truths.
— Herb Caen
A historic building with new bikes for rent.

A historic building with new bikes for rent.

There are still a few houseboats in San Francisco, adjacent to new apartment buildings.

There are still a few houseboats in San Francisco, adjacent to new apartment buildings.

After blocks and blocks of new construction, we move over a street or two to the west and discover a part of the bay that still has houseboats resting under new high rise apartments. 

A twilight view from my sister-in-law’s home in Vallejo.

A twilight view from my sister-in-law’s home in Vallejo.

At the end of the day, the ferry ride back for dinner with family.

At the end of the day, the ferry ride back for dinner with family.

On the return, we stopped at the Ferry Building to purchase food for dinner, then onto the ferry back to Vallejo. 

One of the cool things about cities is that you can visit them a hundred times and always go someplace new.

There is no need to pay for a tour in San Francisco.  Google is a great tour guide.   "Where can I hike in San Francisco?"  It helped us have a great day.  But even without help, you can just strike out on an urban hike anywhere in the city and be surprised.

Thank you, Kristine Poggioli and Carolyn Edison for putting out a fun and free walking tour.