Jail House (on the) Rock

Trip Start Jun 23, 2012
Trip End Jul 22, 2012

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Where I stayed
Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, July 7, 2012

Today is planned to be a much more relaxed day. 
After a dash to the supermarket for fresh yoghurt to add to breakfast we leave Luke at the hotel. He is off to scout the shops for a more concerted attack later in the day. 
Fiona and I make our way to the Greyhound Bus Station to pick up the tickets for the bus to LA that I booked online the night before. After getting the tickets we make our way through the market that is setting up out front of the Ferry Station before catching a vintage tram car back to the Pier District to pick up the tickets for Alcatraz in the afternoon. Jump back on the hop-on hop-off bus to take us to Union Square where we meet back up with Luke in time to take the 11am Chinatown walking tour. 
The guide is very knowledgable (but not Asian) and winds us through the streets of Chinatown. Now it's amazing how much we didn't see when we walked through the same streets in Chinatown ourselves.
One of the stories we keep hearing is about the Barbary Coast and how when the gold rush started people from all over the world came to San Francisco by boat and literally abandoned them on the waterfront. The pirates would turn these boats into saloons, gambling dens and brothels to prize the gold from the miners (the pirates didn't want to actually dig for the gold themselves). 
The tour ended at lunch time and Fiona couldn't resist the temptation of Dim Sum for lunch. We ate in a very basic restaurant but the food was quite good, although Fiona says the egg rolls in Australia are better than the one she had there. 
Now that lunch was out of the way shopping was on the agenda at the huge mall across from the hotel. This was never going to work as a group outing so we all separated and agreed on a time to meet back at the hotel. Luke ended up being the only one who actually bought anything - quite the little shopper our Luke. 
We jumped on the vintage trams again to make our way to Pier 31 for the ferry ride to Alcatraz. These trams are a great way to get around and great value too. Well actually they cost $2 a ride but we are yet to pay for a ride yet!
The ferry ride only takes 12 minutes but that was enough to realise we definitely wanted to ride undercover on the way back. 
The first thing that strikes you about the rock is how windy and cold it is and how "mean" the water looks on the ride over. We followed an audio tour around the jail which used voice overs from past guards and "guests" of Alcatraz. The audio tour gives a great feeling for what it must have been like and that this was definitely a penal institution and had nothing to do with rehabilitation. The standard cell measured 5ft x 9ft x 7ft and had nothing more than a bed, toilet, single seat and small table. 
We got the last ferry back from the rock to Pier 31 and then walked back up to    the main shopping strip to look for some more bargains. Fiona was the lucky winner this time picking up a couple of pairs of jeans. 
Back onto our favoured vintage tram and made our way to North Beach, also known as Little Italy for a very tasty Italian meal. 
Another decent walk back to the hotel after dinner. Time enough to pack and be ready for an early get away tomorrow. 

Caught up with pictures for the last 4 days - check them out.

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