diamond geezer

 Saturday, April 22, 2006

How to get from Fisherman's Wharf to Market Street and 5th
1) cablecar:
The direct route to downtown from the tourist trap piers at Fisherman's Wharf is up and over Russian Hill, along streets too steep for normal buses. Here run two of the city's three cablecars, historic transportation only renovated and restored 20 years ago. The queues for the rather more scenic Hyde cablecar can stretch round the block, but seek out the better-hidden Mason line at the foot of Taylor Street and you'll probably board quicker. Fares are $5 single, but the locals never complain because they rarely travel this way. For the best ride stand on the running board at the front of the car and hold tight on your journey up and over. The drivers have one of the best jobs in town, skilfully manoeuvring their vehicle by selectively gripping a big metal lever whilst simultanously entertaining the crowds with jokes, stories and bouts of manic bell-ringing.
2) streetcar: Several years ago the city bought up vintage streetcars from around the world (Milan, Melbourne, New Orleans and more), restored them and set them to work on the tourist run round the bayside Embarcadero and up Market Street. Unless you board at the first stop in Fisherman's Wharf you may have to queue for ages to squeeze on board past the bloated teenagers and foreign grannies, returning to their hotels with Alcatraz souvenirs and assorted tourist tat. Breathe in, hold tight and $1.50 will get you downtown eventually. Most of the crowds disgorge at Powell Street, however, so stay on and you can ride in peace and comfort all the way up to the giant rainbow flag at Castro Street.
3) walk: Not recommended unless you like climbing steep hills (in which case it's fabulous).

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