San Francisco – Day 2

Today, our first stop was the Rock, better known as Alcatraz. To be honest, Alcatraz was never a bucket list place for me, but as the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans,” so off we went.

The short ferry ride to the island was cool and refreshing. It was nice to feel both the ocean breeze and the warmth of the sun. We left below zero temperatures to come here so a little cool air is nothing.

As the rock neared, I became more aware of the unknown. Clive has seen a couple movies highlighting the prison, but to be honest, I had no knowledge of the prison before today.

Alcatraz itself is 22 acres large and hosts not only a former federal penitentiary, but housing for many of the guards families. I was shocked to learn that kids lived on the rock, and boated to school daily in San Francisco.

Our walk to the top of the island was quite the hike, but nothing compared to what we later experienced at Lombard Street. The self guided walking tour of the prison was informative, interesting and eerie. The air was cold and damp which sent a chill down my back. The 5’ x 9’ prison cells were creepy and the sounds from the audio tour made me feel like we were surrounded by prisoners. The audio from the self guided tour was so realistic that when cell doors closed or fights broke out, I was constantly looking over my shoulder.

The dining hall was considered the most dangerous place at the penitentiary, and it wasn’t because of the food. Rather, 100+ inmates, each with their own utensils, utensils that could potentially cause harm and massive destruction. If this happened, tear-gas was released from the canisters on the ceiling, and everyone, guards included, would drop to the floor.

As the story goes, 3 inmates attempted an escape 55 years ago. However, with differing views, the truth as to if they survived, is unknown. A tunnel was dug using spoons from the dining hall. From there they climbed up the pipes to the roof. From there they ran across the roof to the north end of the jail, climbed down a smoke stack and created a raft out of 50 raincoats. No one has seen or heard of these three men since. However, shortly thereafter, pieces of wood resembling paddles and a raft were found washed up on Angel Island, the closest land to Alcatraz. When guards returned in the morning to check the cells, they found heads made of plaster and real hair tucked every so perfectly in the beds.

After returning to the mainland, we made our way to Boudin Bakery for lunch where Clive once again indulged in seafood and I played it safe with a pizza. We strolled the Wharf and one of us got the bright idea to walk to the Golden Gate Bridge. It seemed doable. 7km and a few massive hills later, we arrived at our destination, tired, sore and needing a coffee. The walk itself was nice, and the scenery was beautiful, but we could’ve done without the hills. Gotta Love San Francisco’s rolling landscape!When we finally arrived at the bridge, dusk was setting in and the temperature was dropping. We had a quick break, enjoyed a coffee and took ‘too many’ selfies. I’m definitely a tourist with the Selfie Stick I won last year at EIA!

Day 2 in San Francisco was filled with great memories and great company!

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