of the great things about using transit is the opportunity to interact with the
locals. Probably our most memorable “transit
tale” was what happened in San Diego.
Again, we had four-day passes (a bit harder to get than we expected),
but while waiting in line, we stuck up a conversation which resulted valuable
information from locals, including catching the bus just outside the transit
shop door, and go to a great night market in 30 minutes.
luckier for us, the bus we needed was out front when we stepped out of the
transit shop. Two locals, on the bus not only told us what stop to get off at,
but what specific vendors and shops we should check out, which proved to be
learned: Don’t be afraid to ask locals for tips on what to see and do. You will
often learn things that aren’t in the tourist propaganda – a new café, where
the good muffins for breakfast are or where the best happy hour is.
of our funniest transit tales happened on the way home from the San Diego night
market. At about 9 pm, we got on an empty bus which soon filled up with a cast
of characters including four, lively teenage girls who were bouncing from seat
to seat. I asked them if they were playing
“musical chairs.” They smiled and said nothing. At the next stop, I moved to
another seat and they quickly did too. For about 10 stops, we did this, much to
the amusement of the other transit riders.
At their final stop, they waved goodbye and we wished them a good evening. Who knew riding the bus could be so
another transit trip, again in San Diego, we were sitting at the back of the
bus when a young tattooed woman got on and sat across from us. It was hard to keep our eyes off her, as not
only was her face half tattooed, but the way she was dressed and her many piercings
made her look as “tough as nails.” As we
got closer to our where I thought we needed to get off, I pulled out our map to
check street names before our stop. After a few minutes, we heard a soft, shy
voice say, “Can I help you?” To our amazement, it was the tattooed girl. She was most helpful and as we got off the
bus and said thanks, she smiled and wished us a “good evening.”
learned: Don’t judge a person by their tattoos.
perhaps our most fun-filled transit tourist day ever was in San Francisco. We signed
up for the Real San Francisco Tour by Chris Courtney (technically this was an
organized tour which we rarely do, but this tour is so personal and “insider,”
it is in a league of its own). This all-day trek takes
you through 11 of the city’s coolest neighborhoods via cable cars, city buses, light-rail
and subway transit. It includes stops at secret spots - fortune cookie-making
bakery, OJ Simpson’s high school, back alley gardens and unique views of Alcatraz,
Fisherman’s Wharf, painted ladies and the Golden Gate Bridge. The tour includes
over five miles of walking, four separate uphill sections as well as six uphill
and fifteen downhill flights of stairs. But it was totally worth it to get the
“inside scoop” on SF’s past and the present.
We would never have found some of the places on our own, despite priding
ourselves on “digging deep” with our online research.
Lesson Learned: If you do one thing in SF, take the “Real San
Francisco Tour.” More info at: The Real SF Tour