San Francisco, USA

San Francisco Cable Cars: A Life of Highs and Lows

Alcatraz in background
Cable car 24 soars to the heights of San Francisco with the famous island and former prison of Alcatraz in the background
marriage on rails
Grooms and guests celebrate a wedding on the cable car rails, at the top of one of the city's countless slopes
pink frisco
Night view of one of the many hills covered by San Francisco's funiculars.
Chinatown above
Cable car passes in front of an oriental-style building that stands out from San Francisco's massive Chinatown.
Traffic sign alerts to the passage of cable cars.
both ways
Two funiculars intersect in the middle of one of Frisco's hills, overlooking the city's bay.
Passengers climb a hill in San Francisco hanging from a cable car.
San Francisco – Oakland Bridge
The San Francisco/Oakland Bridge provides alternative access to the North American city from the hills to the Golden Gate Bridge.
in the middle of the top
Cable car imposes itself on top of a long hill.
Transamerica pyramid
Cable car emerges from a ramp with the Transamerica Pyramid in the background.
line in shadow
Passengers descend from a cable car as the sun sets west of San Francisco.
back to the sun
Cable car leaves the darkness that fills the bottom of a San Francisco rise.
A macabre wagon accident inspired the San Francisco cable car saga. Today, these relics work as a charm operation in the city of fog, but they also have their risks.

The traffic cop assigned to control the many San Francisco cable cars passing through the intersection of California Street and Powell-Hyde despairs:

“Friend, one more of these and I'll have to fine you. And look, I don't like to fine pedestrians at all."

For once, the afternoon is sunny. On Powell-Hyde Street, an eager and undisciplined horde of visitors crosses and recrosses, waiting in the middle of the streets, camera at the ready.

He pulls away only at the last moment and moves again to the opposite side, in repeated reckless movements that drive the brakemen to despair.

With cameras at the ready, they resist. They await the sliding cabins in the various bends that the road has imposed on the relief.

the same bumps as Clint Eastwood and the detective Dirty Harry Callahan who represented climbed against the system and in the opposite direction, at the wheel of an emblematic blue sedan, during endless police chases

This way, that way, Cable Cars from San Francisco, Life Ups and Downs

Two funiculars intersect in the middle of one of Frisco's hills, overlooking the city's bay.

A Secular Heritage of the City of the Hills

There are two of the main lines of cable cars from São Francisco, similar to the “trams” of Alfacinhas, or the trams of Brazil. The sliding cabins may not surprise outsiders from Lisbon, or from one or another European city or the world.

But, in the unusual scenario in which they are inserted, as they are one of the main brand images of the city, they generate a redoubled enthusiasm that drivers and authorities are used to forgiving.

A Alcatraz prison appears in the background, in the middle of San Francisco Bay. A blanket of purple fog glides behind the island that welcomed it. It adds a mystical touch of beauty to the setting. With Alcatraz, there are now three symbols of the city in a single image, to the delight of various photographers, from beginners to professionals.

Inside each funicular the environment is also far from peaceful. Passengers are also, for the most part, outsiders.

Even though there are vacant seats, some of the younger ones insist on hanging outside. They see travel as a radical new experience, and lean too far out in the name of photography and adventure.

Crossing Signal, San Francisco Cable Cars, Life Ups and Downs

Traffic sign alerts to the passage of cable cars.

They ignore the repeated warnings from the brakeman patients and the security guards who follow in the rear of the cabins. “Do young people out there mind not surfing so much, please? There are obstacles along the way. If something happens, we're all in trouble…”

Cable Cars from Frisco: Andrew Hallidie's Providential Creation

Andrew Hallidie never imagined that, 138 years later, his creation still made such a rage. And, if most of the admirers and passengers today come out of this frenzy unscathed, it was a terrible accident in one of the city's hills that convinced this Englishman to develop the first funicular in San Francisco.

In 1869, 17 years after arriving from Britain, Hallidie was walking down a steep, rain-soaked street. Without warning, a carriage that barely managed to climb the incline lost traction due to obvious excess weight and began to descend.

Back in the sun. San Francisco Cable Cars, Life Ups and Downs

Cable car leaves the darkness that fills the bottom of a San Francisco rise.

It gained such speed that, when it crashed, it killed the five horses that were pulling it, a tragedy that impressed him as well as countless other passersby and the authorities.

In the land of opportunity, Hallidie wasted no time. Overseas, her father had registered the first patent for the manufacture of steel cable and Hallidie had already used it in bridges and mine hoisting systems in various parts of the Californian Gold Country. The next step was to move production to San Francisco and build a transportation system worthy of its hills.

The work was perfected throughout the late 1892th century, but by XNUMX a network of trams was already operating in other areas of the city with construction and maintenance costs much lower than those of San Francisco cable cars, which put them under the pressure of company that managed the trams, the San Francisco & San Mateo Electric Railway.

Since then, in the same way as the itineraries they travel through, their past has had countless ups and downs.

The discussion got worse, polarized between the financial aspect and the unaesthetic of the poles and cables necessary for trams. Until the great earthquake of 1906 destroyed several cabins and other infrastructure of the cable cars and forced United Railroads to give in to electricity.

San Francisco Cable Cars, Life Ups and Downs

Night view of one of the many hills covered by San Francisco's funiculars.

Journey from Near Extinction to Tourist Glory

In 1912, there were only 8 left and only because they served hills that cable cars could not overcome. By 1944, the decay had deepened and there were only 2 of the famous Powell Street left.

At the end of the 70s, in addition to being diminished, the system proved to be too worn out and dangerous and was deactivated. But after every bass there is a high, and soon history would turn around.

Tourism was becoming more and more important for the city and the successive major they finally saw in San Francisco cable cars, icons that should be valued.

A Democratic Party convention in Frisco helped to justify the huge financial effort, and in June 1984 the system was reactivated in time to benefit from the publicity that the political event would bring.

Since then, its recovery has intensified, as has the interest of visitors and the pride of the city's rulers and inhabitants even more so because the new three-line system is the last in the world to be permanently operated manually.

A Profession That Is Not For Everyone

As we've been able to understand on several trips, it's not just anyone who becomes a brakeman (gripman) of San Francisco cable cars. Only about 30% pass the training course and, to date, only one woman – with the very southern name of Fannie May Barnes – was hired in 1998.

Ramp, San Francisco Cable Cars, Life Ups and Downs

Cable car emerges from a ramp with the Transamerica Pyramid in the background.

This is a job that requires a strong trunk but, at the same time, it is relatively qualified as the braking and release operation requires common sense, sensitivity and coordination so that the vehicles come to a standstill in the indicated places and anticipate possible collisions and tragedies, something that is not always possible.

The relics' safety record is far from famous. An investigation supported by figures from the US Department of Transportation found that nearly every week the cable cars they crash into other vehicles or hit pedestrians, or they brake too hard and injure passengers or crew.

From time to time, there are serious accidents and even deaths. As Miguel Duarte, a Hispanic brakeman, summarizes: “…many people think they are in Disneyland, that this is a kind of roller coaster.” "We make it look easy but believe me it's not."

The Troubled Financial Management of San Francisco Cable Cars

The same can be said of the mission of the reviewers who have long struggled to defeat the opportunists and quasi-anarchists of the lower-middle class of the city, known for hosting a large number of billionaires but also for its high unemployment and a sub-population of homeless.

Another study carried out in 2007 proved that, until then, around 40% of passengers traveled without paying a ticket. Statistically, the relentless prices charged by Muni (San Francisco Municipal Railway), ranging from $5 for a single one-way trip to $60 for monthly passes, are not innocuous.

It was enough for us to travel to and from the neighborhood of The Haight to realize that your community of alternative or noncompliant residents would certainly be part of the statistics.

Chinatown, San Francisco Cable Cars, Life Ups and Downs

Cable car passes in front of an oriental-style building that stands out from San Francisco's massive Chinatown.

At the end of another wet day, we went up California Street, most of the way with the San Francisco's gigantic Chinatown to our right.

The sun sets behind the mist, over the western horizon of the metropolis and creates a yellowish curtain from which vehicles are breaking into one of the tops of the hill.

New Hill, New Photographic Epic

Silhouettes attract us. We decided to wait for the arrival of the cable cars of career 61, which have the shapes we really want. But, once again, the operation is delicate and risky. The line runs in the middle of the road which is also a space for cars and buses.

Silhouette, San Francisco cable cars, Life Ups and downs

Passengers descend from a cable car as the sun sets west of San Francisco.

We have, therefore, to act in the smallest times when cable cars appear in the exact top position and other vehicles give us a break, an exercise that gave us the desired images and generated some adrenaline.

When we were done, we realized that neither there, nor at that late hour, were we the only ones chasing the funiculars. A wedding was taking place in a luxury hotel on the avenue.

And, to close the memories, the bride and groom and photographer on duty take some pictures with family and friends right in the middle of iconic California Street.

Luck smiles on them and two pass cable cars in a quieter period of traffic. We also took the opportunity and registered another unusual moment on the historic tracks of San Francisco.

The Haight, San Francisco, USA

Orphans of the Summer of Love

Nonconformity and creativity are still present in the old Flower Power district. But almost 50 years later, the hippie generation has given way to a homeless, uncontrolled and even aggressive youth.
San Francisco, USA

with the head on the moon

September comes and Chinese people around the world celebrate harvests, abundance and unity. San Francisco's enormous Sino-Community gives itself body and soul to California's biggest Moon Festival.
Alcatraz, San Francisco, USA

Back to the Rock

Forty years after his sentence ended, the former Alcatraz prison receives more visitors than ever. A few minutes of his seclusion explain why The Rock's imagination made the worst criminals shiver.
Big Sur, USA

The Coast of All Refuges

Over 150km, the Californian coast is subjected to a vastness of mountains, ocean and fog. In this epic setting, hundreds of tormented souls follow in the footsteps of Jack Kerouac and Henri Miller.
Siliguri a Darjeeling, India

The Himalayan Toy Train Still Running

Neither the steep slope of some stretches nor the modernity stop it. From Siliguri, in the tropical foothills of the great Asian mountain range, the Darjeeling, with its peaks in sight, the most famous of the Indian Toy Trains has ensured for 117 years, day after day, an arduous dream journey. Traveling through the area, we climb aboard and let ourselves be enchanted.
Cairns-Kuranda, Australia

Train to the Middle of the Jungle

Built out of Cairns to save miners isolated in the rainforest from starvation by flooding, the Kuranda Railway eventually became the livelihood of hundreds of alternative Aussies.
Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo's Hypno-Passengers

Japan is served by millions of executives slaughtered with infernal work rates and sparse vacations. Every minute of respite on the way to work or home serves them for their inemuri, napping in public.
On Rails

Train Travel: The World Best on Rails

No way to travel is as repetitive and enriching as going on rails. Climb aboard these disparate carriages and trains and enjoy the best scenery in the world on Rails.
Fianarantsoa-Manakara, Madagascar

On board the Malagasy TGV

We depart Fianarantsoa at 7a.m. It wasn't until 3am the following morning that we completed the 170km to Manakara. The natives call this almost secular train Train Great Vibrations. During the long journey, we felt, very strongly, those of the heart of Madagascar.
Ushuaia, Argentina

Last Station: End of the World

Until 1947, the Tren del Fin del Mundo made countless trips for the inmates of the Ushuaia prison to cut firewood. Today, passengers are different, but no other train goes further south.
Las Vegas, USA

World Capital of Weddings vs Sin City

The greed of the game, the lust of prostitution and the widespread ostentation are all part of Las Vegas. Like the chapels that have neither eyes nor ears and promote eccentric, quick and cheap marriages.
Las Vegas, USA

The Sin City Cradle

The famous Strip has not always focused the attention of Las Vegas. Many of its hotels and casinos replicated the neon glamor of the street that once stood out, Fremont Street.
Florida Keys, USA

The Caribbean Stepping Stone of the USA

Os United States continental islands seem to close to the south in its capricious peninsula of Florida. Don't stop there. More than a hundred islands of coral, sand and mangroves form an eccentric tropical expanse that has long seduced American vacationers.
Miami, USA

A Masterpiece of Urban Rehabilitation

At the turn of the 25st century, the Wynwood neighbourhood remained filled with abandoned factories and warehouses and graffiti. Tony Goldman, a shrewd real estate investor, bought more than XNUMX properties and founded a mural park. Much more than honoring graffiti there, Goldman founded the Wynwood Arts District, the great bastion of creativity in Miami.
tombstone, USA

Tombstone: the City Too Hard to Die

Silver veins discovered at the end of the XNUMXth century made Tombstone a prosperous and conflictive mining center on the frontier of the United States to Mexico. Lawrence Kasdan, Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner and other Hollywood directors and actors made famous the Earp brothers and the bloodthirsty duel of “OK Corral”. The Tombstone, which, over time, has claimed so many lives, is about to last.
Miami beach, USA

The Beach of All Vanities

Few coasts concentrate, at the same time, so much heat and displays of fame, wealth and glory. Located in the extreme southeast of the USA, Miami Beach is accessible via six bridges that connect it to the rest of Florida. It is meager for the number of souls who desire it.
Little Havana, USA

Little Havana of the Nonconformists

Over the decades and until today, thousands of Cubans have crossed the Florida Straits in search of the land of freedom and opportunity. With the US a mere 145 km away, many have gone no further. His Little Havana in Miami is today the most emblematic neighborhood of the Cuban diaspora.
Grand Canyon, USA

Journey through the Abysmal North America

The Colorado River and tributaries began flowing into the plateau of the same name 17 million years ago and exposed half of Earth's geological past. They also carved one of its most stunning entrails.
Mount Denali, Alaska

The Sacred Ceiling of North America

The Athabascan Indians called him Denali, or the Great, and they revered his haughtiness. This stunning mountain has aroused the greed of climbers and a long succession of record-breaking climbs.
Juneau, Alaska

The Little Capital of Greater Alaska

From June to August, Juneau disappears behind cruise ships that dock at its dockside. Even so, it is in this small capital that the fate of the 49th American state is decided.
Masai Mara Reservation, Masai Land Travel, Kenya, Masai Convivial
Masai Mara, Kenya

A Journey Through the Masai Lands

The Mara savannah became famous for the confrontation between millions of herbivores and their predators. But, in a reckless communion with wildlife, it is the Masai humans who stand out there.
Thorong La, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, photo for posterity
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 13th - High camp a Thorong La to Muktinath, Nepal

At the height of the Annapurnas Circuit

At 5416m of altitude, the Thorong La Gorge is the great challenge and the main cause of anxiety on the itinerary. After having killed 2014 climbers in October 29, crossing it safely generates a relief worthy of double celebration.
Engravings, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Architecture & Design
luxor, Egypt

From Luxor to Thebes: Journey to Ancient Egypt

Thebes was raised as the new supreme capital of the Egyptian Empire, the seat of Amon, the God of Gods. Modern Luxor inherited the Temple of Karnak and its sumptuousness. Between one and the other flow the sacred Nile and millennia of dazzling history.
Boat Trips

For Those Becoming Internet Sick

Hop on and let yourself go on unmissable boat trips like the Philippine archipelago of Bacuit and the frozen sea of ​​the Finnish Gulf of Bothnia.
MassKara Festival, Bacolod City, Philippines
Ceremonies and Festivities
Bacolod, Philippines

A Festival to Laugh at Tragedy

Around 1980, the value of sugar, an important source of wealth on the Philippine island of Negros, plummeted and the ferry “Don Juan” that served it sank and took the lives of more than 176 passengers, most of them from Negrès. The local community decided to react to the depression generated by these dramas. That's how MassKara arose, a party committed to recovering the smiles of the population.
Dusk in Itzamna Park, Izamal, Mexico
Izamal, Mexico

The Holy, Yellow and Beautiful Mexican City

Until the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, Izamal was a center of worship for the supreme Mayan god Itzamná and Kinich Kakmó, the one of the sun. Gradually, the invaders razed the various pyramids of the natives. In its place, they built a large Franciscan convent and a prolific colonial houses, with the same solar tone in which the now Catholic city shines.
World Food

Gastronomy Without Borders or Prejudice

Each people, their recipes and delicacies. In certain cases, the same ones that delight entire nations repel many others. For those who travel the world, the most important ingredient is a very open mind.
Djerbahood, Erriadh, Djerba, Mirror
Erriadh, Djerba, Tunisia

A Village Made Fleeting Art Gallery

In 2014, an ancient Djerbian settlement hosted 250 murals by 150 artists from 34 countries. The lime walls, the intense sun and the sand-laden winds of the Sahara erode the works of art. Erriadh's metamorphosis into Djerbahood is renewed and continues to dazzle.
Swimming, Western Australia, Aussie Style, Sun rising in the eyes
Busselton, Australia

2000 meters in Aussie Style

In 1853, Busselton was equipped with one of the longest pontoons in the world. World. When the structure collapsed, the residents decided to turn the problem around. Since 1996 they have been doing it every year. Swimming.
Moçamedes to PN Iona, Namibe, Angola

Grand entrance to the Angola of the Dunes

Still with Moçâmedes as a starting point, we traveled in search of the sands of Namibe and Iona National Park. The cacimbo meteorology prevents the continuation between the Atlantic and the dunes to the stunning south of Baía dos Tigres. It will only be a matter of time.
Drums and Tattoos
Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti Beyond the Cliché

Neighbors Bora Bora and Maupiti have superior scenery but Tahiti has long been known as paradise and there is more life on the largest and most populous island of French Polynesia, its ancient cultural heart.
View of Fa Island, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Exotic Signs of Life

Bark Europa, Beagle Channel, Evolution, Darwin, Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego
Beagle Channel, Argentina

Darwin and the Beagle Channel: on the Theory of the Evolution Route

In 1833, Charles Darwin sailed aboard the "Beagle" through the channels of Tierra del Fuego. His passage through these southern confines shaped the revolutionary theory he formulated of the Earth and its species
Magnificent Atlantic Days
Morro de São Paulo, Brazil

A Divine Seaside of Bahia

Three decades ago, it was just a remote and humble fishing village. Until some post-hippie communities revealed the Morro's retreat to the world and promoted it to a kind of bathing sanctuary.
Era Susi towed by dog, Oulanka, Finland
Winter White
PN Oulanka, Finland

A Slightly Lonesome Wolf

Jukka “Era-Susi” Nordman has created one of the largest packs of sled dogs in the world. He became one of Finland's most iconic characters but remains faithful to his nickname: Wilderness Wolf.
Almada Negreiros, Roça Saudade, Sao Tome
Saudade, São Tomé, São Tomé and Principe

Almada Negreiros: From Saudade to Eternity

Almada Negreiros was born in April 1893, on a farm in the interior of São Tomé. Upon discovering his origins, we believe that the luxuriant exuberance in which he began to grow oxygenated his fruitful creativity.
Viewpoint Viewpoint, Alexander Selkirk, on Skin Robinson Crusoe, Chile
Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile

Alexander Selkirk: in the Skin of the True Robinson Crusoe

The main island of the Juan Fernández archipelago was home to pirates and treasures. His story was made up of adventures like that of Alexander Selkirk, the abandoned sailor who inspired Dafoe's novel
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Mount Lamjung Kailas Himal, Nepal, altitude sickness, mountain prevent treat, travel
Natural Parks
Annapurna Circuit: 2th - Chame a Upper BananaNepal

(I) Eminent Annapurnas

We woke up in Chame, still below 3000m. There we saw, for the first time, the snowy and highest peaks of the Himalayas. From there, we set off for another walk along the Annapurna Circuit through the foothills and slopes of the great mountain range. towards Upper Banana.
A Lost and Found City
UNESCO World Heritage
Machu Picchu, Peru

The City Lost in the Mystery of the Incas

As we wander around Machu Picchu, we find meaning in the most accepted explanations for its foundation and abandonment. But whenever the complex is closed, the ruins are left to their enigmas.
View from the top of Mount Vaea and the tomb, Vailima village, Robert Louis Stevenson, Upolu, Samoa
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

At age 30, the Scottish writer began looking for a place to save him from his cursed body. In Upolu and the Samoans, he found a welcoming refuge to which he gave his heart and soul.
Soufrière and Pitons, Saint Luci
Soufriere, Saint Lucia

The Great Pyramids of the Antilles

Perched above a lush coastline, the twin peaks Pitons are the hallmark of Saint Lucia. They have become so iconic that they have a place in the highest notes of East Caribbean Dollars. Right next door, residents of the former capital Soufrière know how precious their sight is.
shadow vs light
Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Temple Reborn from the Ashes

The Golden Pavilion has been spared destruction several times throughout history, including that of US-dropped bombs, but it did not withstand the mental disturbance of Hayashi Yoken. When we admired him, he looked like never before.
Chepe Express, Chihuahua Al Pacifico Railway
On Rails
Creel to Los Mochis, Mexico

The Barrancas del Cobre & the CHEPE Iron Horse

The Sierra Madre Occidental's relief turned the dream into a construction nightmare that lasted six decades. In 1961, at last, the prodigious Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad was opened. Its 643km cross some of the most dramatic scenery in Mexico.
aggie gray, Samoa, South Pacific, Marlon Brando Fale
Apia, Western Samoa

The Host of the South Pacific

She sold burguês to GI's in World War II and opened a hotel that hosted Marlon Brando and Gary Cooper. Aggie Gray passed away in 2. Her legacy lives on in the South Pacific.
Daily life
Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

Work is essential to most lives. But, certain jobs impose a degree of effort, monotony or danger that only a few chosen ones can measure up to.
El Tatio Geisers, Atacama, Chile, Between ice and heat
El Tatio, Chile

El Tatio Geysers – Between the Ice and the Heat of the Atacama

Surrounded by supreme volcanoes, the geothermal field of El Tatio, in the Atacama Desert it appears as a Dantesque mirage of sulfur and steam at an icy 4200 m altitude. Its geysers and fumaroles attract hordes of travelers.
Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii Wrinkles
Scenic Flights
napali coast, Hawaii

Hawaii's Dazzling Wrinkles

Kauai is the greenest and rainiest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also the oldest. As we explore its Napalo Coast by land, sea and air, we are amazed to see how the passage of millennia has only favored it.