Day Fourteen, San Francisco

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I woke up still tired from Yosemite and regretted booking such an early ticket to Alcatraz. I wanted a lie in desperately by this point. The ferry departed from Pier 33 which was a twenty minute bus ride. I got there early and was only in the second line of queues. We had to go through two security checks just to get on the ferry.

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A park ranger gave an introduction once we had arrived on the island. He told us a little about the history of the place, I hadn’t known about red power and how Native Americans had protested on the land for over a year. There was an informative video that elaborated on the history of the island next to a gift shop. They had the film ‘The Rock’ playing in the gift shop and that is one of my favourite guilty pleasures.

Alcatraz island has an interesting atmosphere; you have the buzzing tourists but there’s also the dark history threatening to bleed through. The gardens and most of the island were closed off to the public so there was really only the prison to visit. My ticket included a free audio tour and it really enriches looking around the cells. I learned alot about how the prison functioned and how extreme their solitary confinement was. I’m not sure if it was the entire prison that I saw but it was smaller than I imagined. The bars are a peachy pink, the walls a minted green like a Wes Anderson colour palette. When I took off my headphones there was an eerie silence despite the masses. It’s hard to describe how it feels in there so I’ll include a few photos instead.

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Families lived on the island next to the prison, there were testimonies from the children that lived there. They didn’t understand at the time what that meant. It was sad to hear that they used to sing carols at Christmas to the prison and the prisoners would respond.

In another gift shop I met a man who had stayed in the prison and wrote about his experiences. He was in his 80s and his eyes were blue and old. He reminded me of my grandad sadly.

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When I left Alcatraz and made it back to SF I decided to go to the Ferry Building again. It is housed at pier 1 and luckily the walk went quickly. I got Mac ‘n’ Cheese at Cowboy Creamery. It was good but not as tasty as the one I’d had in Seattle. The crumb was good and gave good texture.

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As it was my last full day I needed to get up close to the Golden Gate bridge, it took forever to get there. The metro train was experiencing some issues so it took about an hour and a half. Weirdly, it was cold and foggy next to the bridge. I didn’t have the energy to walk all the way across it but I did walk for a little while. It was very windy and I felt so shallow for taking pictures of myself. I think it might actually be best viewed from a distance. My bus back towards the hostel stopped next to Lombard Street, you know the famous zig-zag street with 45 degree inclines. I had to walk up such a steep hill to be able to look down on it and guess what? It was a street with a congested, crazy road. Annoyed I walked back to the hostel, packed up my belongings and had an early night.

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