They called me the VW Jetta pirate! Thanks to my buddies at Enterprise Rent-A-Car I would always get a great weekend hire deal and roll out in my choice of a car, a nice clean VW Jetta. I was set for the weekend to start exploring and settling in Silicon Valley.
Choose your weapon
The most common ways to travel up and down the valley:
a. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – is the cheapest car rental service I found in the valley. They also have a huge range of cars to choose from. Hiring a car is straight forward and no you “do not” need an international drivers license. So do not waste your AUD50 in Australia getting that useless paper from NRMA. All you need is your Australian driverse license and your set to go within few minutes. Enterprise website even has online booking so you can take care of all the paperwork online and just drop in and pickup the car from your closest provider. Make sure you read my post on car rental hidden costs so your well prepared before renting a vehicle.
a. VTA (Valley Transportation Authority) – has both buses and light rail operating within the local county. The buses travel up and down El Camino Real and cost a few bucks pending on the distance you want to travel. There are stops on El Camino Real every few hundred meters so be prepared for frequent stops and longer journey times. The buses and light rail are high tech with display & computerized voice giving you updates what street you are approaching. The buses also lower forward so you can attach your bike to the front – that’s a neat setup. While the light rail always carry a middle carriage for bike storage.
b. ZipCar – wheels when you want them is a no obligation share a car service. You sign up on their site and whenever you want a car all you pay for is the per hour hire, nothing else and when your done just drop the car off at a predefined location. This service is more popular in big cities like San Francisco and San Jose where street parking is a nightmare hence the market for such a business.
c. CalTrain – diesel driven locomotives pull cars of people up and down the valley. These trains stops at most major towns along the way and are very noisy (see my post of apartment hunting to get an idea how noisy). However they do move quickly and the “baby bullet” service is a few stops direct line from San Jose to San Francisco. I would be on these at least once a week when heading into San Francisco. A ride from Mountain View to San Francisco on one of these costs around $6 one way.
Finally, don’t catch any taxi’s. They are a rip-off. One trip from the SFO to Mountain View (20 miles / 32 km) once cost me USD100 + tip. That was my first and only time I would be catching a cab in the valley. However do take a taxi cab in New York since it’s super cheap there.