Fisherman's Wharf is one of the distinct neighbourhoods of San Francisco.

It is located at the extreme north end of the city, by the ocean (conveniently enough for a wharf), tucked behind North Beach, Russian Hill and the Marina neighbourhoods. Historically the place was originally frequented by Chinese fishermen, later to be replaced by Italians (famous for using their unorthodox albeit quite efficient method of singing opera to avoid boat collisions in the fog).

Nowadays, it is only populated by tourists walking their fat noisy offspring around. The only excuse for a tourist attraction, being an hourly boat shuttle to Alcatraz and a mind-bogging accumulation of cheap, ugly and tacky souvenirs that passes out as "craft" in certain parts of mid-western America (I said certain parts... not all of it: please don't run over my tree-hugging peacenik ass with your pick-up).

It seems like, at some point in its history, the wharf used to feature an array of quality eateries and cute seaside outdoors... Then again, standards of refined gastronomy in this area have been heavily scaled down to refocus on greasy fish'n'ships joints and hot-dog stands.

Ironically for a spot which draws insane amount of tourists from all over the world, this is most definitely the last place where you are likely to meet or see anything slightly San Francisco-related. The local population deeply fear and despise it. Even the most hardcore fans of silver-painted Michael Jackson street mimes and space fantasy spray paint artists would not dare to be seen there.

You may wonder why such a place, so devoid of interest and culturally bleak, could become a major tourist attraction in a city where virtually any other neighbourhood is a delight to walk through... Well, just think of it as the tourist-sector equivalent of corporate recognition and name branding achievements: people go there because it is easy to spot, it makes much better vacation stories than "we just walked around and enjoyed the atmosphere" and it is most definitely the best place to find "I left my heart in San Francisco" T-shirts along with pictures of the Golden Gate bridge and über-authentic San Francisco Hard Rock Cafe caps.
For more about this, see Nasty places that tourists like to visit.

I might also add that, in addition to stink figuratively, Fisherman's wharf also stink very much literally. This being due to another of its poor excuses for a tourist money-trap: hordes of sea lions, and the smell which goes with it. In case you are wondering: sea lions (or more specifically, their dejections) reek beyond belief, which makes the whole walk throughout the place a thoroughly painful olfactory experience.

And by the way: rather than stand in line for two hours in order to catch a pathetic 5 minute ride on one of these mythical San Francisco red streetcars, simply hop on the regular F line (anywhere along Market street and part of the piers): the cars are brought from all over the world and restored while perfectly preserving their original early-century design and they convey infinitely more charm and authenticity than their touristically correct counterparts.

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