dressing appropriately in “Fog City”

As our good friend Duvet Vedette once said, “if you spend any time in San Francisco, you gotta be prepared at all times!”  What was she referring to?  The unpredictably unpredictable weather!

Yes, my friends, San Francisco may be a beautiful city that beams with pride on the sunniest of days, but don’t count on those glorious rays to stick around for too long, or to be present from one neighborhood to the next.  Thanks to its location in between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay, the city is surrounding by water on three sides.  Add to that conundrum, a series of rolling hills, and you’ve got yourself some rather frustrating weather patterns.  Bright and sunny in Potrero Hill?  Chances are, it’s foggy and damp at West Portal!

Visitors to San Francisco would be wise to check the weather before leaving their hotel for the day, but then again, does it really matter?  Running around town on any given day will see you witness to all sorts of climate (un)controlled tricks.  Wind is perhaps your biggest adversary, especially in the summer months that are already typically cooler than you might expect!

On a memorable September 2010 trip, your “Set of Drifters” spent one day warm and toasty en route to Muir Woods and the very next freezing cold on a voyage to Alcatraz Island (see “sights”).  The moral of the story is bring layers and lots of them... like with you... on your person.  You just never know when a windbreaker, sweater or even a rain jacket will become your very best friend!  And what about an umbrella?  If you are coming anywhere near the city in January, February or March, the device won’t rarely leave your hand!  Translation - try to visit in the fall!

Thanks Duvet!

clang! clang! clang! goes the...  oh you know the rest!

Getting around in San Francisco is a fairly easy affair whether you have a vehicle or not.  Though it can be an entirely fun experience to drive up and down the many hills within the city, the lack of decent parking in most neighborhoods can be quite frustrating.  May we suggest San Francisco’s multi-pronged transportation system instead?  It’s mostly reliable, and thanks to some rather unique vehicles, almost an attraction of the city in and of itself!

Let’s start with the worst of the bunch... The San Francisco MUNI Metro.  This system of subway lines complements buses and old-fashioned passenger cars in what is actually one of the oldest public transit agencies in the country.  The entire system offers over 80 different routes that cover 90% of the city's neighborhoods.  So what’s the problem?  The subway cars often break down in mid-trip!  Nowhere is this more frustrating than when inside Twin Peaks tunnel heading to or from the western section of the city!

While buses run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the MUNI Metro has somewhat limited hours, which can be frustrating if you are heading out to SOMA or Castro for a night out on the town!  The good thing about the MUNI though is that most sectors run partially, or entirely on electricity!  A newly released Hybrid bus fleet is looking to a future goal of “100% emission free” by the year 2020.  (Now that’s what we call progressive thinking.)  In the meantime, don’t freak out if you are traveling up some crazy hill in San Francisco, and the vehicle jerks with sparks shooting from the back.  That’s just the system’s way of adding extra juice to get you up the steep grade!

Of course, the most charming child of the MUNI system is the old SF stand-by, the “cable car,” the clangs of which you will hear all over town.  Now, if you have never been on one of these things, you must make an attempt at some point to do so, even if you have to mingle with boring tourists in the interim.  We recommend trekking up to Russian Hill near the top of Lombard Street.  From here, you should easily be able to hop on a car when others get off to gawk at the twists and turns of the famous block that once housed the “roomies” from the popular MTV show The Real World.  The engineering behind a cable car is really fascinating, if not a little stinky.  (The burnt rubber aroma comes from the car’s all-important break system!)  While the $5 USD ticket price for a one-way trip up Nob Hill is a bit steep (pun-intended), this is one of those bucket-list things you really cannot miss.  Just remember to HOLD ON!

The BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is another popular choice for commuters, particularly the “Bridge & Tunnel” folk who reside in East or South Bay communities.  BART now even brings residents and visitors to and from the SF International airport, a marked improvement from the days when Set of Drifter Brady lived here in the 90s.  BART is a very economical, and perhaps a more reliable, option.  (And dare we say it?  It’s also quite comfortable, with cushioned seats and carpet on the floors!)  Sadly, the routes within the city are limited, and like the MUNI, BART does not run all night!

San Francisco MUNI - http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mhome/home50.htm

San Francisco Cable Cars - http://www.sfcablecar.com/

BART - http://www.bart.gov/