Thursday, November 15, 2012

San Francisco: Two-Alcatraz

The day we went to Alcatraz was warm and bright and as we waited at the dock for our little cruise ship to come take us to prison, I could feel my neck getting warm. But the people watching was fantastic. So many different nationalities, colors, and languages in one spot. While we waited in line to board the ship, we got a chuckle at a little boy behind us who was screaming, "I don't want to go to jail! I'm NOT going to Alcatraz. I hate you. I hate everything! I'm not going!" It made me thankful for my few precious child-free days. 

If you ever get a chance to visit Alcatraz, I highly suggest you take advantage of the audio tour they offer. You pop on a headset, choose your language, and listen as you tour the penitentiary. It's narrated by former guards and inmates and it's incredibly haunting.
Living conditions:

Daphne in "the Hole":
One of the things I remember most about the tour is when a former inmate tells how on certain nights, when the partying in San Francisco was especially loud, like on New Years Eve, the prisoners on the island could hear the revelries, at times even hearing the laughter of women.

The view from the island:

Who wouldn't want to be there?

 I think everyone should have to visit Alcatraz. It will keep you on your best behaviour and make you appreciate the fact that you don't live behind bars.

Monday, November 12, 2012

San Francisco: One

Oh my, San Francisco. As much as I love my cold, silvery-grey, misty Portland, the Bay area was definitely a treat. It didn't hurt that I had a fabulous tour guide who adores the city and took me not only to the popular spots, but the areas she loves as well.

Our first destination was at the Powell/Mason turntable to catch a Cable Car.

Before getting on, Daphne asked me if I wanted to sit or stand on the outside. I had no idea and sitting just seemed easier, but then she said, in a sing-songy voice, "Standing is better." Well, okay then.
She stood in the very front holding on to the white bar, and I stood directly behind her. I had to hold my purse close to my body as we clanked past parked cars and I was standing directly in front of some tourists who may have been grumbling about me in their native tongue, but what a way to view the city! I'm glad Daphne poo-pooed my sitting plan.

The ride ended at Fisherman's Wharf which wasn't far from where we needed to be to catch the boat to Alcatraz. (Alcatraz was intense and probably deserves its own post, I'll write more about it another time.)

After finding a mailbox (Ballots had to be postmarked, this was Election Day!), we wandered around a bit. Fisherman's Wharf is super touristy, even by the standards of a tourist. Lots of tee shirt shops and mass produced trinkets. I'm glad I can say I saw it, but Daphne and I both agreed it wasn't a place to spend a ton of time. The crowd was diverse though so the people watching was great.

This silver fellow was especially fun:
A little girl had put a few coins in his cup and he was unimpressed:
It was all good once I gave him a dollar though:

A view of the Golden Gate bridge:
After Alcatraz we walked back to the car. This is where my details get fuzzy. Did we then go to Chinatown? Dammit, this is why people keep travel journals. Either way, eventually we ended up in the Castro, which was a wonderful place to spend this election night. The crowds in the restaurants and pubs were glued to the news and as we walked the streets we could occasionally hear cheering as the individual states' results came in. Daphne treated me to a birthday dinner at Chow, which was delicious. (The dining options in the Bay area are amazing. I ate so much good food. Really, I ate a lot.)

After eating and a bit more walking, we picked up Daphne's man and headed home where we drank a lot of red wine, snuggled with Thomas the cat, and continued watching the election night coverage until the very end.

It was an incredibly memorable day and night.