North America

San Francisco – Cable Cars & Haunted Alcatraz

Anyone who doesn’t have a great time in San Francisco is pretty much dead to me. -Anthony Bourdain-

The Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Alcatraz, Muir Woods, Lombard Street, Union Square, the cable cars, Ghirardelli, the painted ladies, the muted fogs, Boudin Bakery’s chowder in a bowl – it’s all iconic!

27 December 2014

Our first full day in SanFran, we decided to self-adventure! We tried our hand at getting to the cable car, but being peak-season, we weren’t having a lot of luck getting on at Union Square. I am sure any local or even American would know this is an impossible tourist trap! A lovely man, who we are pretty sure was homeless, came up to us and said ‘follow me, I will show you the local bus route – you will get down to the pier/bay much quicker and it will only cost you a couple of dollars’.

We made it down to Bubba Gump’s – again a tourist trap but it had to be done, I needed an iced tea cocktail and we were starving, after all we had repeated the 26th of December twice and had only eaten wings and snack-food the night before :). Also taffy, I freaking love the stuff – I bought an entire bag. So bad but so, so good.

We had a look around Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 and managed to catch the Powell/Hyde cable car. I must add, if you plan on doing this be prepared for pushy tourists and I mean pushy. Families were trying to push both my and my Husband off our spot to fit themselves on. We were on the outside – not taking up too much space but still. Tourists are bad, pushy people are bad but there is something about crowds in America which just freak me out.

The cold was seriously getting to me, which was hilarious seeing as we were heading to New York City next (how would I survive?). So we went to Macy’s and bought thermals and gloves (for me) which I would proceed to wear for the next week (no, seriously).

That night we were doing an evening Alcatraz Tour, which we were both so excited about. I had not made it to Alcatraz my first trip to SanFran and we figured a night tour would be the best bet.

The boat across the bay at sunset and into evening is absolutely gorgeous and I would recommend it to anybody. We arrived at Alcatraz right as the sun disappeared. Once we got off the boat we were met by a Ranger and taken up the hill to the cell-house. After our introduction we then had audio-tours which are really well done. There would have been a few hundred people there, but it never felt crowded. Going at your own pace to the audio-tour was excellent. I must admit though I did start to get a little creeped out if I turned around and my Husband had wandered off to the next section!

Alcatraz is reportedly haunted and I am not nearly qualified enough to say that this is not the case. It certainly has an eery vibe to it. I think what surprised both of us, is that there were 28 deaths on Alcatraz only. For such a notoriously ruthless and dangerous prison, I thought the number would be higher than that. Eight people in total were murdered there, five died from suicide and the rest died of illness.

The average cell is 5″ by 9″ and there were 336 cells in total in cell blocks A and B. Families of the guards/staff lived on the small island as well, which completely took me by surprise, it was almost more creepy than the actual prison, looking around their lodging.

The average sentencing was around 8 years and you had to be considered one of the worst prisoner’s to be sent to Alcatraz. Once you had earned your right to leave Alcatraz, you would then be sent to another facility. Only 2 prisoner’s were ever directly parolled from Alcatraz.

When the tour was all done, we took the boat back to the mainland and again navigated our way to the bus stop and caught it back to our hotel.

I was seriously so cold. Look!

When we returned back to Australia from our trip, we watched a few different documentaries about Alcatraz and it being haunted and it made my skin crawl. Very creepy stuff!

The next day we had the bridge and Muir Woods planned!



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