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San Francisco

Victorian homes, San Francisco

Practical Info about San Francisco

Getting around the city

The public transport system in San Francisco is known as MUNI and operates buses, electric trolley buses and the famous cable cars as well as metro streetcars (underground trains that become street cars when they emerge above ground). MUNI offers access to all parts of the city; exact change is required, and the same fare applies to all services except the cable cars, which are more expensive. Note that the cable cars are a moving National Monument and hence are very popular and crowded. They can be tough to get onto, and slow in getting to your destination. MUNI trains and buses run 24 hours a day, with a more limited service after midnight; buses late at night are not always safe to use. The other transport system, known as BART, is a fast and economical subway/rail network that connects the city to the East Bay as well as the airport. Taxis are also available in the city but can be hard to find, especially during peak hours. During the day the best option is often to walk, as many of the locals do. However, be prepared to climb a few hills.

Time

GMT –8 (GMT –7 from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November).

Electricity

120 volts, 60Hz. Plugs are mainly the type with two flat pins, though three-pin plugs are also widely used. European appliances without dual-voltage capabilities will require an adapter.

Currency

The official currency is the US Dollar (USD), which is divided into 100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are widespread and credit cards are widely accepted. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.

Communication

The international country dialling code for the United States is +1. Mobile networks cover most of the country, including all urban areas, however unless you have a tri-band phone it is likely your cellular phone from home will not work in the United States. Internet cafes are prevalent in most towns and cities.

Emergency number

Emergencies: 911

Visa and health information

Everything about visa and health information

Public holidays

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2014 2015
New Years Day 1 Jan 1 Jan
Martin Luther King Day 20 Jan 19 Jan
Presidents Day 17 Feb 16 Feb
Memorial Day 26 May 25 May
Independence Day 4 Jul 4 Jul
Labour Day 1 Sep 7 Sep
Columbus Day 13 Oct 12 Oct
Veterans Day 11 Nov 11 Nov
Thanksgiving Day 27 Nov 26 Nov
Christmas Day 25 Dec 25 Dec

Climate

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The weather in San Francisco is cool to mild throughout the year, with foggy summers and wet winters. The climate is influenced by the cold currents of the Pacific Ocean surrounding the city, which in conflict with the Californian mainland's summer heat, creates foggy conditions that blanket the city during summer and early autumn. This ensures summers in San Francisco are cooler than inland California. Winters are mild during the day, with temperatures seldom dropping below 60°F (15°C), but nights are cold and rain is common. Rain in summer is rare.

San Francisco International Airport

www.flysfo.com

Getting to the city

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Rapid Rail service connects the airport to the city centre, and provides a connection to the Caltrain commuter rail service at Milbrae Station, from where trains leave regularly to San Francisco downtown and San Jose. SamTrans Service, bus 292, leaves every 30 minutes for the city centre and suburbs. There are also shared vans, which provide a door-to-door service and are cheaper than taxis. Reservations are sometimes needed for service after 11pm.

Car rental

The AirTrain links the terminals to the rental car centre. Car rental companies include Alamo, Avis, Budget, National, Thrifty and Hertz.

Airport taxi's

Taxis cost about $45 for an hour's ride to the city centre, very dependant on traffic. Airport employees are available at the taxi pick up area, outside all terminals, to help passengers. Taxi drivers will expect a tip of $4-5.

Transfer between terminals

The AirTrain light rail service operates on two lines: the Red Line connects all terminals, garages and the BART Station; and the Blue Line connects to the rental car centre. However, the AirTrain does not provide service to the airport's long-term parking lot.

Facilities

There are banks, bureaux de change and ATMs available. Facilities for the disabled are very good. Other facilities include baggage storage, medical clinic, bars and restaurants, duty-free, shops, childcare and baby changing facilities, post office, wifi, tourist information and hotel reservations. There is also a museum, library, art gallery and an aviation history museum within the terminal.

Parking

Rates for short-term parking start at $2 per 20 minutes and increase to $36 per 24 hours. Other daily rates available range from $28 per day in the international parking area or $18 per day in the long-term lot.

Internet

All four terminals have free wifi.