Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge
The most famous attribute of San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge. Had this bridge not been built in 1937, getting from the Northbay to SF would be a far worse ordeal than it is currently, although, commuting into SF is always a horror waiting to happen. Prior to 1937, one would have to travel a two lane highway that ran through all towns until reaching the ferry located at Larkspur. The ferry then would traverse the bay in about one hour and land you a good mile or two from the financial center of the city. Once getting off the ferry, your choice was either to walk, take a taxi or a cable car, depending on where you had to go. Even commuting then from San Rafael would take two hours and from Santa Rosa, almost four hours.
Tourists come from around the world to see the bridge which is actually a rust red in color. Crossing it can be done by foot, on bicycle, or car. By foot, it will take a good 30 min, depending on stops and others walking it. Always be prepared for temps not much higher than 60F, unless there is a infrequent heatwave. The pacific ocean here is cold all year, not more than 50F. The wind is ever present and cold. Then, there is the fog, It likes to hover around the bridge much of the day unless there is an off shore wind to make it vanish.
Crossing the bridge by car will cost you $6 , only when coming across from Marin County, the non-SF part. One must always pay attention to traffic on these narrow lanes as one mishap will wreak havoc. The car lanes on the bridge are variable depending on the day. Sometimes, there will be two lanes going into or out in one direction, sometimes it is three. It can be confusing if you missed the signs telling you how many lanes in your direction there are. The second thing most important is the speed limit of 45 MPH. The bridge has cameras and police are near. Going faster than 50 MPH will get you noticed! if you are coming from the non-SF city limits into the city, the driver needs to pay attention to which lanes are for Fast Track and which take cash. The Fast Track lanes are automatic and deduct the fare to cross or if you pre-paid, allows you to cross. Cash lanes mean just that. Credit cards will not help you. If you get in the wrong lane, odds are you are stuck and if you fail to pay, a photo is taken of your license plate. When you get to payment zone, a person is there to take your money, Do not sit there and chit chat. Just say hello, give them the money and go! People are usually rushing in the GG bridge area.
When you are crossing the bridge out of SF, you will need to start to speed to climb the hill that leads into a tunnel. If your car is unable to do it, stay to the right. Once you have traversed the tunnel, be prepared to a very steep decline. People new to this often get paranoid because it all happens so fast and cars are whizzing by. If weather is bad, there is even more paranoia, so stay calm and steady. Brake if you need to but don't overreact.
Recently, my car suffered a breakdown going up to the tunnel. As I tried to get to far right shoulder to pull over, because of racing traffic climbing the hill, I was nearly in three accidents. Even when I had made it, I was parked waiting for a tow and was nearly rear ended twice because of speed and blind spots.
From the bridge, if the weather is good, you have a wonderful vista of Alcatraz island prison, much of SF and the whole bay. A great place to visit, just don't stay too long, but I am sure the weather will prevent this.
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