Day 5 MoTab Tour ❤ Friday 22 June, 2018 San Francisco, CA
We had a full day of R & R today. The first order of business was sleeping in. There’s honestly nothing more glorious than being able to sleep with no alarm set, and allowing the body to wake up when it’s ready. I plan to do as much of that on this tour as possible!
We Weren’t Buying It
We hailed a LYFT to take us from our hotel to the Pier. This was our 4th Lyft and our first we were less than thrilled with. Our driver went to the wrong pick up location so we had difficulty finding him, his car was old and dirty, and he spent the entire ride trying to sell us on a security MLM he’s a member of (doubt that’s allowed in his Lyft contract). We also suspect he took us the “long way” to allow more time for his sales pitch… Really odd experience.
Seeing some of the city was fun, though.
A Trolley Car!!
Mr. Mo and I (luckily) pre-booked our tour of Alcatraz Island several weeks ago for the 1:30 PM sailing, since tickets are in high demand and extremely difficult to come by. While Mr Mo and our friends Janet and Kirk lined up I ran into a nearby cafe to buy something quick we could eat for lunch on the ferry ride. I ended up finding 2 small premade sandwiches, 2 small bottles of lemonade and 1 chocolate cookie, which cost me a total of $32! YIKES!!! To say prices in this town are ridiculous is an understatement.
Alcatraz Island is now a State Park, and the park service charters a ferry boat service to bring people to and from the island. It’s a 12 minute ride each way and the views of the island, city and bay are stunning. I also found out the ferry has a little cafe on board (with much more reasonable prices). Oh well.
Alcatraz Island is the site of one of the most infamous maximum security federal prisons in the world, which was operational from 1934 – 1963. However, the island also has a rich history that extends back to the late 1700s and early 1800s when the island was first used as a military fort during the Gold Rush and the Civil War.
It is also the site of the oldest operational lighthouse in the West – operating since 1854,
A 19 month American Indian occupation took place from 1969-71. Some of their signage can still be seen at the entrance.
Alcatraz Island has been open to tourists as a National Park since 1973.
I was surprised to see very beautiful landscaping. It is filled with all kind of foilege and flowers that were planted by the families of prison guards who lived on the island, and the gardens are preserved, expanded and maintained by park volunteers.
Many sea birds have made their home on the island. In fact, Alcatraz has one of the largest Western Gull colonies on the northern California coast.
We caught a glimpse of a mama Gull with her babies.
Voices From The Past
One of the main highlights of the island tour comes when you reach the top of “the rock” and enter the prison building where you are issued a special pair of headsets and a device that plays a recording as you are guilded through the prison. A former prison guard narrates the tour, and many voices of actual prisoners and guards are included in the audio tour. Its FASCINATING and educational!
Alcatraz sits in the middle of the bay between the Bay Bridege and the Golden Gate and it is buffeted by all the wind coming across the bay. It was surprising how STRONG that wind was when I stepped outside for some photos and video. But ohhh, look at that view!!
Worth The Walk
We ended up walking all along the bay from pier to pier. We caught a glimpse of some Pier 39 Sea Lions
And then we walked all the way back down the bay, and eventually all the way back to our hotel (which was exhausting and I was about to hail a LYFT or UBER by the time it was too late).
San Francisco is a very interesting and diverse city. The old is juxtaposed beside the new, and extremes of wealth and poverty are also evident. I have been saddened to see so many homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks. At one point as we walked along we saw a group of cheerful young people pulling a large cart filled with box meals. They were going up to each street person and asking them if they would like “chicken or salmon tonight?” and that brought happy tears to my eyes.
Oh boy did we ever luck out! John’s Grill is celebrating 110 Years in business this year, and the food says it ALL! Wow.
The restaurant has a lot of fascinating history, including being a featured site in the classic novel The Maltese Falcon. If you go, be sure to have the clam chowder (it’s to die for).
I think it’s safe to say we had a marvelous free day explorimg San Francisco! – MoSop