Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The backseat driver's guide to San Francisco

An open-top buggy with a computer for a tour guide is the best way to see San Francisco, says Matt Rudd; plus other special ways to see California’s greatest city
Sixteen miles per hour and I’m absolutely terrified. You wouldn’t think a grown man could be terrified at such low speeds, but it’s because I’m being chased up one of those Steve McQueen hills by a tram. Unlike Steve McQueen, I’m not in a Ford Mustang. If I were, it wouldn’t be a problem, would it? But instead of the Mustang, I’m in a bright yellow buggy with a top speed of 40mph. That’s 40mph if you threw it off a cliff. Top speed up a San Franciscan hill seems to be 16mph. Sorry, 15mph. No... 13, 11, 9?
The tram is filling my wing mirrors and dinging its bell. I arrived in San Francisco only yesterday, and it feels like four in the morning, I don’t know whether trams are like buses (they can stop) or trains (they can’t). So I have no option but to keep the throttle open, lean forward, partially close my eyes and pray. The brow of the hill is within sight, but it’s too close to call: bystanders on either side of the street are stopping to watch the slow-speed chase. It’s not often you get to see a tourist squashed by a tram.
Read full story here.

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