The weird guy on our bus stayed around at the Greyhound station and was asking what we were doing in terms of hostels. We hadn't booked anything yet, and were intending to use the Wi-Fi there to book something. I feared that he would keep asking us and invite himself along to the same one, but luckily he left of his own accord, in good timing as we were preparing to leave ourselves.
Public transport in San Francisco is a lot easier to use, and the city isn't as far spread out so it only took about 20 minutes to get to the hostel, where we dumped our stuff and went to find breakfast. On the bus, Alice had seen a place claiming to do the best breakfast n San Francisco, so we thought we'd try out the claim. It was a stereotypical diner (and, yet again, I was surprised by how much like the films it was). Alice had a huge omelette with hash brown and toast, and I had huevo ranchero, which came with black beans and a stack of tortillas. The waitress was busying around but we did manage to get our free refill of coffee. Over breakfast, we planned out what we wanted to do today and tomorrow. We wanted to go to Alcatraz, but it said in the guide book you should try and book 2 weeks in advance. We only had a day in advance, but luckily, when we got back to the hostel and went online, they had spaces for this afternoon.
Before we went to the pier, we decided to go to Balmy Alley, and look round the area it was in, so we got on the metro like system, and then walked to the alley, which has lots of murals painted on the walls. There was a group of small school kids on a trip, who kind of got in the way of some photos but were quite sweet when their teacher said "1, 2, 3, eyes at me" and they replied "1, 2, eyes at you", and they reminded me of when there's a school trip in Monsters inc. (Basically everything reminds me of a film).
We got the metro back to the centre, and then walked to the pier where we were getting the boat trip over to Alcatraz Island. It was very rocky walking over the ramp from the boat onto the island, but when we arrived, we had an orientation talk, which outlined what there was to do, and then we watched the orientation film. After that there was some information displays, and I thought it was interesting that, at the same time as it was being used as a prison, there were some families who lived there, and the children would go to school every day by boat, and weren't really affected by the fact they were living on a prison island. They would go and sing carols to them at Christmas, which must have made the prisoners feel even worse that they weren't free.
Then we headed up the hill to receive our mp3 player which gave us the audio tour. Apparently on windy Ney Year's Eve's, the wind would carry the noise of people partying in San Francisco to the prison, again something that would have made it harder for the prisoners. In the kitchen, the knife block had to have the outlines of the knives painted on it so that they would be able to determine which was missing if one of the prisoners stole one. You got a good idea how much prisoners appreciated their free time, and I enjoyed seeing the room of prisoners rehabilitation artwork. One of the prisoners described how he spent his time in the completely dark punishment cells- throwing a button, spinning around to lose orientation and then trying to find it. Another described how he pictured a light and envisioned it becoming a TV and would watch fantasies on it. Apparently the intellectual books were the most popular at the library, as they felt so numb brained.
We got the ferry back over, and then went to a supermarket to get stuff for dinner (although Alice ended up deciding she'd spend less buying something from a takeaway so she got a falafel wrap). I got some tofu and apple sausages, to have with the cactus leaf and tomatoes I had brought earlier on from a vegetable shop near Balmy Alley. Cactus is my new favourite vegetable as I Googled it and it has an impressive number of health benefits, although is a bit tedious to prepare as you have to peel the spikes off. It tastes a bit like green beans and peppers, but with less flavour.
Afterwards, I took us to find Macy's, as they have a Ben and Jerry's there, and we had wanted to try the Greek yoghurt, peanut butter and banana flavour we had seen in the supermarket for $3- about 1.75 pounds!- but we didn't want a whole tub. It had delicious chunks of peanut butter in.