My Alcatraz tour was booked on the 10h00 ferry today!!www.alcatrazcruises.com.I made my way to Pier 33 where the ferry departs from for Alcatraz Island.The ferry journey took about 5-6 minutes from San Francisco.Amazing that it is so close, and yet so far with that icy water surrounding the island.Our tour started with an introduction speech on the dock of the island, where the Marshall explained to us that the island was initially a military base, used at a look out for attack from the Pacific Ocean.It then became too expensive, and was closed down after a number of years.It was then "hijacked" as Indian land by a group of Indian protestors in the 1930's as a land reclaim movement, and this group of Indians inhabited the island for +/- 2 years.The sign on the dock stating "Indians Welcome" has been left there from that time.In 1934, the Island was commissioned as a prison, and named Alcatraz - Spanish for Sea Gull.
A list of famous prisoners held captive there includes Al Capone - imprisoned for tax evasion; and others.The tour included a 5 minute movie showing the different stages of the island from military base to Indian land reclaim to High Security Prison.After the movie, we went on a walking tour of the prison cells and admin buildings and the dining hall and kitchen.This was a tour with headphones, and was very interesting and informative.100 times better than the Robben Island tour ~ someone should take some notes!!!The walking tour discussed the numerous escape attempts at Alcatraz, and the 1968 escape where 4 prisoners used sharpened teaspoons to dig out of their cells was very well portrayed, and the actual cells where this happened are still there with the chiseled out holes below the basins are still there.The prisoners actually used hair collected from the barber shop to stick onto paper mache'd heads which they stuck into their beds so the guards would not think something was up until the morning when they didn't come out of the cells.Very clever indeed.
In 1968 Alcatraz was shut down, as it was too expensive to maintain, and the last remaining prisoners still there were cleared out and sent to other prisons in San Francisco.The Island wasn't used for a number of years and different suggestions were made on what to do on the island, until a final decision was made to turn it into a museum about the history of the island.A very worthwhile tour, and highly recommended!!!
After returning to Pier 33, I wondered down the Embardero and found myself at Fisherman's Wharf.I wondered around the shops a little, stopped in at the Rainforest Café, had a Ben and Jerry's icecream, and the I found myself at the Wax Work Museum - Now, I wouldn't put this museum on a par with Madame Tusauds in London, but they do have a couple of interesting displays, but the waxworks are not of very good quality, nor do they resemble their realife images very well.Take a look at some of the photos, and see if you can recognize any of the "stars" I photographed - you are forgiven for not recognizing them, as I even couldn't be sure sometimes even after looking at their names!!!
Afterwards, I took a walk further towards the end of Fisherman's Wharf, and found a great little strip of beach!!!What a delight!!!So good to sink my toes into the warm sand, and refresh them in the cool ocean water!!!SFO had been experiencing a mini heatwave the week I was there, so it was great to have perfect weather while I was there.Sunset was around 8pm, so I chilled out at the beach for the rest of the afternoon, and made my way home at around 7.30ish.Billy & Christine were home by then, and had ordered Mexican food for dinner - Billy had an early start on Saturday morning - he was playing golf with a friend, and Christine & I were going to meet up with him after and go for lunch.We had our Mixican food, and Billy made Margaritas!!Another great day in this great city, San Francisco!!