We took the 9:30am sailing from Pier 33 to Alcatraz Island. The scenic 15 minute cruise on the water allowed for photo opportunities of San Francisco, The Golden Gate Bridge, The Bay bridge and some seals splashing around in the water as the boat cruised along.
You’re treated to a short talk as soon as you leave the boat from a Alcatraz National Park guide, giving you some history about the island and the prison. There are maps available for a donation of $1 which we purchased and felt was a good souvenir. You can watch a short documentary, which unfortunately we missed quite a bit of and didn’t manage to get back and watch the start. You then head up to the shower blocks, which are about 0.4km up some slopes to pick up your audio tour which is included in your ticket price.
The audio tour is very informative, guiding you through the prison whilst listening to old prison wardens, prisoners and some children of the families who used to live on Alcatraz. The cells were a significant amount smaller than I imagined they would be, and a lot of them have replicas of artifacts in them which help you to imagine what life was like as a prisoner. The riot of 1946 and the great escape of 1962 are depicted in great detail and they host talks several times a day on various interesting subjects about the prison. We managed to catch most of a talk around the great escape, which left us debating whether or not they made it to Angel island, their rumoured target, after the guide divulged some information about after the escape.
They have a large souvenir shop stacked with books, magnets, clothing and ration trays! We purchased another small booklet for $1 as we don’t have enough room in our backpacks for anything big.
After the audio tour we walked around the prison again, stopping at the exercise field, reading the plaques around the building and looking at the nesting birds (Alcatraz is also a bird sanctuary). We spent over 3 hours on the island and could have easily spent longer, you’re able to catch any boat back you wish and not committed to a specific time.
We docked again at pier 33, then walked along to Fishermans wharf to try some San Francisco clam chowder. John went for a bread bowl filled with the creamy soup which seemed to be a popular option. I don’t eat fish, but John assured me it didn’t taste fishy at all, so I gave it a go and was pleasantly surprised. There were lots of people slurping down huge trays of oysters and various other seafood.
We then stopped at boudin bakery for me to grab some lunch, I had a chilli bowl which was delicious. The bakery is very popular for sourdough bread and has a huge glass window where you’re able to watch the bakers, and see their unique bread creations such as crocodiles and teddy bears!
Our next stop was to take a tram ride from one end of San Francisco to another. We caught it from beach at Hyde all the way downtown to Powell street. We stood on the ledge of the tram so we were hanging off just like you see in the films, it was fun to be pulled up and down the steep hills and as trams crossed paths passengers high fived each other.
The tram dropped us at Union Square, we hung around the shops and sat in the square watching the world go by, walked to a hotel where John had previously stayed and grabbed some dinner before catching the tram back again.
We got off at the top of Lombard Street to take some pictures across the city in the evening. The view was spectacular and rounded off our stay in San Francisco nicely.
Over the last few weeks we’ve been to a lot of different cities, San Francisco going down as one of my favourites as it has so many spectacular and unique things to see. Sometimes when there’s so much to see we haven’t known where to start. GPSmyCity has created an amazing travel app featuring self-guided walking tours in hundreds of cities across the world, allowing you to take in all the key sites and explore your destination at your own pace. For my first 20 readers I have the app free for you, for the city of your choice! The App is available on IOS and Android devices and all you need to do is comment below telling me what your favourite city is and why (please also include which city you would like the app for). For a list of available cities available please visit www.GPSmyCity.com