June24th 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
The hills of San Francisco, Coit Tower just visible top right

Woke late, at around 11, but discovered we were still in time for breakfast – tea, croissants, juice.  That over, we set off downtown, to see about visiting Alcatraz, and visiting and photographing various of the sights.  However, first we stopped off at the Greyhound station to dump our pack, and then called in at the Post Office – a very impressive building, also housing the Court of Appeal – to send back home the photos we’d had delivered, as well as various pamphlets etc.  Then we caught the trolleybus down to the Wharf – it was a fun ride, and, better, didn’t cost a penny… nobody seemed to want to take our money.  Arrived at the Wharf and looked for the pier to catch the Alcatraz ferry.  Unfortunately, Val and I were a bit tetchy with each other at this time, tho’ we got over it pretty quickly.  Queue for Alcatraz trip was too long, tho’ , so postponed that, and walked up to Coit Tower, a famous local landmark, shaped like an erect fire-hose.  Visited the top, tho’ really it wasn’t worth the 75c it cost.  Walked up + down some of the steepest hills to get to the wiggly part of Lombard Street, a hill so steep that the road tacks back + forth across it, with flower beds filling in the spaces.  By now time to think about getting out to Hayward, where Meher lived, so we trotted up to the Greyhound station to reclaim our bag. And then hit BART, San Francisco’s Underground.  It is the most remarkable system anywhere, I should imagine, is very new and very proud of itself… rightly so.  You buy a ticket, for the amount of your journey or more if you wish, pass it thro’ a machine and make your journey.  At the other end, you pass it thro’ another machine. + that automatically works out if you have more to pay, or how much balance remains in your favour!  And the trains themselves are superb – spotless and very comfortable, tho’ we did travel at rush hour, which didn’t help.  We called Meher, and her husband Bill came out to pick us up.  They were both very friendly, and made us welcome with beer, wine, a lovely Indian meal and intelligent conversation, and finally a comfortable bed for the night.

It is almost sweet how excited I was by a transport system that is now commonplace (though the spotless trains still sound attractive).  And a hint of discord in the ranks – tetchy, eh?  Hardly surprising when we were together pretty much every minute.

  1. Pamela J Blair

    Those BART cars aren’t so pristine anymore. They’re really pretty terrible. Many are filled with homeless, who wreak of pee and pot–quite a mixture. Sometimes young black guys will come on and do incredible acrobatic feats, hanging onto the bars near the ceiling and turn their bodies almost inside-out. I usually give them a dollar when they pass the hat after their act. More and more, people are on their cell phones and no one gets any eye contact. I haven’t been on one since March 13, 2020, the last time I went in to San Francisco, but I doubt much has changed. I think the entire BART system is close to bankruptcy, since so few people are using it these days.

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