Sunday, June 11, 2006

San Francisco Day 4 (After The Race)

After a short nap, and a search for a decent sandwich on a Sunday afternoon, which was hard in San Francisco for some reason, a trip to Alcatraz was on the schedule.

We had bought tickets for the night tour of Alcatraz, which the guidebooks recommend, since it has extras as well as a sunset over the island. We hustled down to the wharf to grab a bite to eat before boarding the 6:30 boat. Along the way we passed the infamous Bushman, who scares unsuspecting tourists as the stroll down the sidewalk.

After a stop to a truly bad Johnny Rockets, where the service was exceptionally horrible, we had to scramble to make the boat. They boarded late, but we left on time. We sat outside where the wind was whipping around. Gulls traveled with the boat, one in particular hanging right above or behind us the entire trip. The view going to the island was fantastic! It was made even better by the knowledge that I didn't have to swim back this time, unless I fell off the boat or island, which I had no intention of doing.

The view facing back to San Francisco wasn't too bad either.

Once docked at Alcatraz, the tour guides split everybody into groups of 60, walking us to the prison and told us about the facility as we walk up. I won't go into all they told us, but I will mention they covered the islands history as a fort, a military prison, a federal prison and as a territory occupied by Indians.

Al Capone was covered heavily, as he is the most notorious prisoner, but there were other prisoners with interesting stories. I highly recommend the night tour to anybody interested in the prison. They give talks that cover much more detailed information than the standard audio tour. I do not want to short change the audio tour as it was fantastic and covered lots of history of the time the island as a prisoner, using audio of actual prisoners and guards.

We had time to roam parts of the island. The views are great, but most prisoners did not get to enjoy them. There are parts of the prison that are crumbling, since the military prisoners who built most of the concrete structures did not take much pride in their work. There needs to be a lot of restoration. Our guide told us of conservative visitors who said the prison needed to be repaired and reopened!

Night began to fall while we were on the island.

Then it was time to leave, as night fell on the island. The trip back to San Francisco was cold as the wind was really picking up. Luckily I was wearing my $15 Chinatown jacket I had purchased earlier.

More photos at Flickr.

1 comment:

NinersGear said...

Great pics! I've always wanted to visit Alcatraz, and living so close I don't know why I haven't yet. This is definitely on my list of stuff to do w/ my wife & now I know to go at night! Thanks for the excellent tip!