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Boat ride to Alcatraz Prison

Another picture perfect day which is apparently not that common in San Francisco with fog usually even rolling in on Summer days. We walked down to Market Street where we caught the F tram heading to Fishermans Wharf for $2.25 (must have exact money).

We had pre- booked our tickets online, ( www.alcatrazcruises.com) after being advised by the Visitor Information Centre that this is the only way to get tickets and to do it quickly because they sell out well in advance. Our tickets cost $35.50. When we arrived at Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing there was a sign saying tickets were sold out until the 11th October!!!

Our boat was leaving at 11.30am and we had to be lining up at 11am. Once on the island we could just wander around and then catch any boat back as they left every 30 minutes. The "Rock is 1.5 miles from land but with swift currents and freezing cold waters it made escape treacherous .

Originally it was a civil war fort, then a military prison and finally one of the most notorious penitentiaries famous for having the very difficult prisoners sent here that were causing problems or escaping from other jails. Most well known is Al Capone and the Birdman. Today it is owned by the National Parks.

We had an audio cell tour which was excellent with old guards and prisoners sharing stories, and most famously about the 3 that escaped. It still not known today if they survived or drowned. The cells were very small and 3 tiers high. The cell streets were called Michigan Avenue, Broadway and Times Square. There was an isolation cell for violent prisoners and they did not leave them at all. Well behaved prisoners were allowed to spend time in the recreation yard on Saturday and Sunday for 2 1/2 hours to play baseball, chess/bridge or just enjoy being outside.

The views from Alcatraz were amazing - the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco skyline and the Bay . Many of the guards and their families also lived on the island and children were bought up here.

We were back at the dock by 2.30pm - really enjoyed it and all very well done.

I then walked along the waterfront up to Ghiradelli Square where the cable car turnaround was to catch the famous cable cars that are unique to San Francisco back to Union Square. There are only a couple of lines remaining as many were destroyed in the 1989 earthquake and removed. I caught the Powell – Hyde Cable Car. I bought my 1 way ticket for $7 and waited in a very long line. I was really hoping I could get to stand on the outside running board at the front and was told by the hostel staff stand on the left hand side so you had views down Lombard street - the crookedest street in the world. I was still a fair way back in the line and a trolley had been loaded when they asked for people who wanted to stand on the outside. I was the only one in the line who said yes so I was able to get on and had the perfect position right at the front so I had the best view as we went down these incredibly steep hills. It was so much fun and you had to not hang out too far or you would get wiped out by passengers hanging off the cable cars coming form the other direction. It was a lot of fun!

I met Leigh for an early dinner at the Cheesecake Factory which is on the rooftop of Maceys across from Union Square.

We had bought tickets for $60 for one of the hop on off bus company - BIG BUS and jumped on to head to the main stop to do the Night tour. It took an hour and a half to get down there and we went through the Tenderloin which is the poorest area in San Francisco absolutely full of homeless people. This is where Will Smiths film "Pursuit of Happiness" was filmed. The Glide church works with them , providing childcare, meals and medical assistance. It also has the highest SOR ( Single Occupancy renters) where you rent room for $900 - $1300 a month and use a shared bathroom and kitchen on the same floor.

Past Astor Square historic district with the famous Queen Anne painted lady homes, to the 70's hippy area of Haight- Ashbury which has plenty of hippy shops. We drove through the middle of massive Golden Gate Park and then across the Golden Gate Bridge. As the sun was setting the views were stunning especially looking over the treeless Marin Heads. The view from the other side looking back to San Fran was stunning.

Sitting upstairs in the open it was absolutely freezing and I had to buy a hot chocolate to warm up before jumping on the 7pm Night tour bus. I missed out on a seat upstairs so although I ended up being warmer I missed the sights and a lot of the interesting commentary. Don't sit downstairs - not worth it!

Paradise Heights is known as Millionaire row and this is where Robin Williams lived and the Mrs Doubtfire House is as well . I really liked Union Street with its old home and very cool shops and restaurants. There is supposed to be over 3000 restaurants in San Fran enough to keep you eating out breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 years without returning to the same one.

We drove over the Bay Bridge that goes to Oakland and stopped on Treasure Island for views back to the San Francisco skyline - incredible!. The bay bridge is a 2 level bridge wit traffic on the lower level going to Oakland and the top deck back to the city. It is lit up with over 20 million LED Lights that are creating a show that s computerised and always changing. It is a beautiful bridge and definitely better lit up than the Golden Gate at night.

We were then driven back to Union Square arriving back at the hostel at 9.30pm. Our room is quite noisy from the interesting people that roam the streets at night from homeless to loud singing drunks, to very low screaming fighting . I have slept well despite that but have worn the free earplugs the hostel supplies!

Alcatraz Ferry station with Coit Tower behind

Alcatraz Ferry station with Coit Tower behind


Cruise ship in port

Cruise ship in port


Heading to Alcatraz Island

Heading to Alcatraz Island


Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge


Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island


Arriving on the "rock"

Arriving on the "rock"


US Penitentiary

US Penitentiary


Guard Tower

Guard Tower


Open Shower area

Open Shower area


Tiers of cells

Tiers of cells


Cells

Cells


They were very small cells - no privacy

They were very small cells - no privacy


Library info

Library info


Cell of an inmate who loved art

Cell of an inmate who loved art


View of the city they had

View of the city they had


You saw visitors through these small windows

You saw visitors through these small windows


View to city from  admin area

View to city from admin area


Ruined warden building

Ruined warden building


Michigan avenue

Michigan avenue


The escape

The escape


escape route

escape route


Dummy head and hole they escaped through

Dummy head and hole they escaped through


Kitchen

Kitchen


Knife board to show if knives were missing

Knife board to show if knives were missing


Meal plan

Meal plan


Dining hallway most dangerous part of the prison

Dining hallway most dangerous part of the prison


Families and kids lived here

Families and kids lived here


Towers the Rock

Towers the Rock


Exercise yard

Exercise yard


Ferry Terminal

Ferry Terminal


Restaurants at Fishermans Wharf

Restaurants at Fishermans Wharf


Cable car turnaround

Cable car turnaround


The long line

The long line


View from the cable car line

View from the cable car line


Cable Car turnaround

Cable Car turnaround


Cable car

Cable car


Getting ready to go

Getting ready to go


Going down a hill

Going down a hill


Up a hill

Up a hill


Passing another cable car

Passing another cable car


Heading to Union Square

Heading to Union Square


Cable car ride

Cable car ride


Union Square

Union Square


Cable Car ticket $7

Cable Car ticket $7


Cable car

Cable car

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in USA

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