CalTrain to the Peninsula

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SANFRAN -- South Beach is one of San Francisco's newest neighborhoods. It has grown up in the years since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and is the perfect spot to begin a rail journey from San Francisco to San Jose.

Chic coffeehouses and an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants make this palm-lined promenade a desirable place to visit and to live. South Beach's new apartments are as popular as the new Pac Bell Park, a "Giant" success so far. It's a great destination and an equally fine point of departure.

At 5th and Townsend streets is the newly renovated CalTrain station, the city's gateway to a delightful day riding the rails down the Peninsula. It's a convenient and comfortable way to explore some of the Peninsula's many attractions. In the warp speed world of the Web, the high-tech Peninsula is still served by an old friend.

The Peninsula has cherished its trains for nearly a century and a half. They know the way to San Jose and everything in between. Trains leave the 5th and Townshend station in San Francisco many times a day and run close to Highway 101 south all the way to Gilroy. We're going to follow the San Francisco-San Jose stretch and, along the way, stop to explore the city of Burlingame, see a stained glass studio in San Mateo, visit Stanford University, and look around an historic depot in Santa Clara.

Throughout the decades, the San Francisco-San Jose railway, now known as CalTrain, has played many roles in passengers' lives. It's an easy way to get to work and to school. Sometimes, it's an easy way to fall asleep! "We sprawl out and we play. We meet nice people...there's always interesting people on the train," says one girl who rides the train to school.

One of those interesting people is Shirley Stork and her grandson, Carl Goodfriend. "Carl loves trains. That's his number one passion these days," says Shirley.

As a child, Shirley's husband used to enjoy train rides with his mother. And Shirley's proud to pass this family tradition on to Carl: "It's just a treat for me to have something that I can do with a grandbaby too for a couple of hours -- have him all to myself, play with him on the train!"

The old railroad was constructed when Lincoln was president as a way for wealthy San Franciscans to reach the undeveloped splendors of the Peninsula's countryside. Since then, many communities have grown up around the railroad.

At the historic Burlingame Station, we bumped into Bay-TV's Will Selva. When Will's not busy co-hosting "The Show" or "49er's Chalk Talk," he knows just where to find the best of his hometown. He's a "Burlingame buff."

Once home to the first country club in California, the city of Burlingame is a mecca of shops and international cuisine. Will is a regular at Copenhagen's Bakery and Cafˇ. Danish bakers begin work at the crack of dawn baking bread and treats of all kinds, but supper is also sumptuous at Copenhagen's.

Burlingame is more than a mouthful of great food. There's a museum of Pez memorabilia -- the single largest collection of Pez candy dispensers in the world -- as well as some very worldly mom & pop shops.

At Four Green Fields, we find almost everything Irish as well as a childhood friend of Will's, Melinda Miller. For Will, Four Green Fields is a one-stop shopping spot for Irish gifts. "We have everything from crystal to china, pottery, jewelry, music, books," says Melinda.

But today, Melinda finds something appropriate for Will to wear around town.

"Let's see, Will. I think something like a nice cardigan," she says.

"I feel like Mr. Roger's Neighborhood over here wearing that cardigan," says Will. But we think Mr. Selva's neighborhood is worthy of a good cardigan and another visit.

For more information on South Beach, visit two of our stories on the neighborhood: South Beach and San Francisco -- Along the Waterfront

The CalTrain station is located at 5th and Townshend Streets in South Beach, with trains leaving every half an hour during the daytime hours. For more information on CalTrain, call (800) 660-4287, or to see a schedule and maps, visit its web site at

Copenhagen Bakery & Cafe, located at 1216 Burlingame Ave., is open 7 days a week Its phone number is (650) 342-1357. Visit its web site at

The Pez Museum of Memorabilia is located at 214 California Drive, and admission is free. For more information call (650) 347-2301 or visit its web site at

Four Green Fields is located at 1107 Burlingame Avenue, and its phone number is (408) 354-5567. Visit its web site at

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