Alcatraz N.P., San Francisco
Visit the marvellous Alamo Square for a real contrast between old and new. Photo opportunities are brilliant. See main photograph.
If planning a trip to Alcatraz, and it ought to be a must for everyone, try and book before you go. Hotels aren't allowed to pre-book trips for this wonderful experience and I'd pre-booked on line weeks before arrival. It certainly paid dividends on the day, long queues were avoided and in the hot sun lessened the wait for the ferry to the island.
If you are staying in Union Square and want to avoid the big queues from Fisherman's Wharf for the cable cars, take the normal bus service, which actually goes in the other direction but is half the price and much quicker.
Fondest memory: I loved Alamo Square, the contrast between old and new was startling. See the photo below. A tour of the Napa Valley is a must if you have time to get away from the city. Be sure to see the pelicans that hang around Fisherman's Wharf.
ALCATRAZ ISLAND & STATE PENITENTUARY
This is the most popular visitor attraction within the city. Once the world renowned and notorious prison known to all as the Rock. Thought to be inescapable – in fact although attempts have been made it is unknown if those actually made it to the free world or drown in the bay.
To get to Alcatraz l had to pre book tickets – it really is that popular an attraction. To do so go to www.blueandgoldfleet.com – this is the only tour company running scheduled ferries from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Island. Our tour cost $16 each and this included an audio tour of the cell house. I would recommend this great tour. You follow the lines of your feet and listen to former prisoners and wardens talk about “The Rock”.
Fondest memory: There are also trips out of town – we took a wine country tour – with Tower Towers (www.towertours.com) out to Napa Valley and Sonoma Valleys. We visited 3 wineries – Madonna, Viansam and Cline – none which l had heard off – but l drank and tasted the wines. Lunch was in the town of Sonoma – this is somewhere l would like to visit for longer than an hour – its very picturesque – craft and antique shops, wine shops selling the local produce and lovely restaurants.
This is a cell at Alcatraz. You can look inside them, even enter a few. Not a pleasant place to be-at least not by choice. Next year: free HBO!
By the way, in New York City an apartment this size usually sells for at least $500,000-maybe even a million, if it's in the right neighborhood!
The great view of the Bay with Alcatraz offshore. We really wanted to do the Alcatraz trip but did not book prior to arrival. I expected that we would be able to get on the end of a tour. Not so - the earliest opportunity was a day after we left. We won't make that mistake again.
Fondest memory: One of the best memories is going to the Golden Gate Bridge. Everything we expected and no fog. The view back to San Francisco was fantastic.
Favorite thing: In addition to its more famous use, Alcatraz (specifically, the island) is also something of a nature sanctuary. Birds flock here, and check out some of the flora too. I'm not sure what kind of plant this is-maybe you know
Favorite thing: The hardest of prisoners at Alcatraz (and that's saying something!) were sent into solitary confinement. This block of cells was called "the Hole". A "prison within the prison", these cells are unusually cold, dark places. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in one of these cells-on second thought, I'd rather not.
Need I say more. There are already plenty of good tips on Alcatraz in VT.
I just made this tip to show you the sign at the left
I cannot stress to recommend making reservations if you are traveling in the high season.
New trip, new camera, new picture.
The quality of my zoom allowed to take this better picture.
Alcatraz, also called "The Rock", has been opened in 1933, and it's been operational until 1963.
It is also famous because its keepers were sure that no one could ever escape from it. Somebody tried, it is documented, but nobody ever reached the shore, because of currents, cold and possibly Sharks!
Now it is a museum
Fondest memory: Unfortunately we did not have time to go see Alcatraz Island. I hope next time we will. Visible from the mainland, the island was once a federal prison. There are many ferries that go to Alcatraz from San Francisco (docks located near Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39).
Before we went to SF we booked tickes via the internet so that we were sure to have one when we arrived. and indeed lots of people couldn't go because all the boats were full that day. So when visiting SF just 2 days, make sure to reservate tickets before going.
PS we booked our tickets together with a tour:
If you want to tour Alcatraz, make sure that you pre book on the web - http://www.nps.gov/alcatraz/ - there are long queues and you may not make it if you don't pre-book.
Fondest memory: Seafood and the walk along the fort area.
We did a night tour at Alcatraz and I really enjoyed it. On the way over to the island the sun was about to set behind the Golden Gate Bridge...great picture.
The tour itself was very entertaining and interesting, so well worth the money and time.
Fondest memory: The Giants match we watched was great, especially for a European like myself...we don't have baseball games like that.
Favorite thing: Go to Alcatraz. Sitting in the wind outside on that island after your round trip through this jail, you realize that it is better to work for money than get it on a easier way, because freedom ...you cannot buy!
Visit Alcatraz. And don't scimp on the tour or the earphones and cassette...just do it. It is quite an experience and you really can feel how it must have been for the 'Birdman' and 'Al Capone'. It is quite horrowing to think you could hear the celebrations from the mainland whilst your stuck rotting away in Jail.
Fondest memory: Being able to escape from Alcatraz.
There is one thing you MUST do in San Francisco. Alcatraz, now a National Park, previously a (in)famous prison and prior to that a military fortress. It is an amazing experience to walk the prison blocks while listening to the tour audio tape. I was most impressed witht he experience.
The picture shows the prisoner exercise yard.