We left the hotel early, at 6.45 to walk to Pier 33 to queue for tickets for Alcatraz. We didn’t pre-book tickets, against the advice of many people! So nervously hoped we would be able to get some after our Muir Woods failure yesterday. The queue wasn’t as long as I thought it would be, especially after my experience in Amsterdam, queueing for hours in the rain at Anne Frank House despite being there super early! We got tickets for the 8.45 crossing. Hurrah! This meant we didn’t have time to kill, we just grabbed breakfast from their cafe, a nice egg and sausage muffin and boarded the boat.
We arrived at the island and listened to a quick briefing by the park ranger and then spoke to William Baker, an ex Alcatraz prisoner. They had a military band, and people dressed up in old costumes as part of their living history weekend – not sure if this is because of the Fleet Week celebrations or this is just the norm and they say it so make you feel extra special. We walked up to the prison – a pretty steep hill, collected our audio guides and walked round.
It was really eerie, and had it not been filled with tons of tourists it probably would have put me on edge. I found it hard to get my head around the fact that once upon a time people, bad people were locked up here. They had an old photo with a quote on it that said ‘Break the rules and you go to prison, break the prison rules and you go to Alcatraz’. So this was where people got sent for time outs from other prisons, so not just bad people, very bad!
You could go in the cells, and outside and see amazing views of San Francisco skyline. It was a really good experience. I think it would have been really cool to do a night tour, then I think you’d get the real feeling of what it was like to stay there. That evening I read a bit more about William Baker, he went back there some 50 years later and stayed in his cell. This must have been extremely strange for him. He went outside, and to the wardens office. Something he couldn’t do when he was serving time. After reading this before I went to bed, I have to say I did struggle to wind down! Probably not the most sensible idea of mine. I look forward to reading his book and hearing more about his story.
After Alcatraz, we went to catch the hop on hop off bus to Sausalito to see if we could get a bus to Muir Woods, this ran at the weekends and took around an hour. It turned out that we didn’t have the correct tickets for the hop on bus, and after some very unhelpful customer service we decided we didn’t have the time.
All was not lost, because we can claim the trip back and knew we had a great, long day trip to Yosemite the next day. We decided instead to roam around Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoy more of the Fleet Week celebrations, watching more of the air show, sitting on the grass in the sunshine drinking an ice cold fresh lemonade. We then got an ice cream, I had coffee it was delicious and headed back to the hotel for a swim and to chill by the pool.
It’s funny, how I felt guilty for spending a few hours by the pool when I should be site seeing and exploring. I was tired though, and it was lovely to have some relaxing time in the sun. It’s a holiday after all!
We then went for a delicious Italian meal a couple of blocks from our hotel. I had a scallop pasta, we shared a side salad with candied walnuts and Gorgonzola which was amazing and finished it off with chocolate torte. It’s fair to say the America diet is going extremely well, but with all the walking I’d like to say we are earning it, that’s what I’m telling myself anyway! We caught an early night as we had a big day at Yosemite the following day.