Day 18: 3 July 2013
The drive 168 mile to San Francisco was the worst drive of the holiday – it was mostly on highways – from 2 to 7 lanes in each direction. We encountered a good few traffic jams along the way with no real explanation as to why. At least one was due to an accident, but we really aren’t sure what the rest was about. At least we got to see the California Highway Patrol in action – Íde used to be a big ChiPs fan, but could not see Erik Estrada anywhere.
We decided to stop in Berkeley for lunch. We agree that Berkeley doesn’t seem to be all it’s cracked up to be, but maybe we didn’t give it a proper chance. We were relieved to take a break from the traffic, but we knew we had worse to come. We are aware that there is a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) strike, which has caused major traffic delays on the roads into the city.
We crossed the tolled but extremely impressive Bay Bridge into SF. This has two levels with the top leading into SF & the bottom leading out. It is also in two sections with an island in the middle. And this isn’t even SF’s famous bridge!!
Our journey to our hotel brought us around a corner into a very, very steep section of Mason Street which Íde handled with only a little panic. We realise that the decision not to keep the car while in San Francisco was probably the best decision we could have made. The drop-off point for the car is right next door to the hotel car park. We arrived just after 6pm. The car hire company had just closed. Otherwise we could have given it back and saved the $27 hotel parking fee. Either way, we were relieved that we didn’t have to do any more driving in San Francisco. We thought the roads in Waterford were steep, they are in the halfpenny place compared to the streets of San Francisco.
The hotel (Hotel Cornell de France) is in the Nob Hill area in central SF, close to Union Square. Our hotel room was tiny but beautiful & functional room. We napped after the long trip & had a late supper in a nearby diner.
We prepped Suaimhneas for tomorrow’s return by filling it up and cleaning it out. Suaimhneas had served us so well for the last 2,000 miles and we were a little sad to say slán. It is a Dodge Journey SUV with a 3.6 litre engine averaging 28 mpg mostly on highways rather than city driving. The price of unleaded petrol ranged from $3.69 to $5.29 per gallon (no litres here). Two other small differences between Ireland and the US arose:
- The USA is so determined to avoid decimalisation that fuel prices end in 9/10 rather than .9 .
- The pump colour for diesel is green in US. In Ireland a green pump means unleaded petrol.
No driving for three days!! How will we cope?