Armed with his trusty Appleton's Guide, Michael Portillo's rail journey through California takes him to the commercial metropolis of San Francisco. Riding through the vibrant streets by cable car, Michael findsout how 19th-century engineering overcame the challenge of scaling the city's steep hills and gets behind the scenes with the 144-year-old engines driving the cables.
In the Presidio neighbourhood, Michael discovers San Francisco's long tradition for fine printing and learns the historic hand-crafted techniques before his treasured guidebook is evaluated by the experts. Hitching a ride on a hippy 'love bus' to the heart of the gay district, Michael traces the roots of the city's LGBTQ scene back to the era of the gold rush and is invited to a fund-raising 'drag brunch'. He stops off at the marina to tuck into a local seafood speciality brought to the city by Italian immigrants. And, heading across the bay to Sausalito, he boards a schooner to hear the story of Matthew Turner, the most prolific ship builder of his time.