Saturday, September 12, 2009

My life behind bars at Alcatraz...

OK, I have a confession to make, this picture wasn't actually taken at Alcatraz, but actually at Battery Spencer, the now abandoned fortification that used to guard the Golden Gate Bridge.
Jason in Hollywood behind bars
But it's a great picture to go with the jail theme so thought I'd use it for illustrative purposes, but these other pictures are all from our visit to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.

Alcatraz Island viewed across San Francisco Bay
from The Golden Gate Bridge
Alcatraz Island San Francisco Bay
When my friend suggested a potential trip to Alcatraz I wasn't so sure.
Alcatraz Cruises Alcatraz Clipper
As I've stated before, I'm not the greatest tourist and so the thought of taking a tour of the former prison island didn't make me jump for joy.
Port of San Francisco
Having said that, as it was my third visit to the City by the Bay I felt obligated to finally take the ferry ride across the water.
Alcatraz cruises
For me Alcatraz was a bit underwhelming, it's a bit like Times Square in New York in that you always imagined it to be bigger, especially the way it's portrayed in films and on TV.
Alcatraz Island
My biggest disappointment was that we didn't cruise around the island, simply to and from Pier 33, which only allowed us one vantage point of 'The Rock'. However it did offer fantastic views of the city itself.

The Port of San Francisco
Coit Tower view
A daytime tour of Alcatraz costs $26 for an adult and the one and 1.5 mile ride across to the island takes less than ten minutes. It does offer great photo opportunities though of the surrounding bay area.

The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge in the afternoon sun
When I reached the island I was relieved to find that we'd be able to explore Alcatraz without a designated tour guide.
Alcatraz Island water tower
So plugged in to our audio tour equipment we ventured in to the infamous prison which once held such notorious criminals as Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stround (The Birdman of Alcatraz) and George 'Machine Gun' Kelly to name but a few.

Inside Alcatraz
Alcatraz laundry roomAlcatraz prisoner showers
The audio tour is interesting because it's narrated by the wardens and prison officers that manned Alcatraz when it was still a federal prison, plus some of the former inmates.
Alcatraz audio tour
Prison cells at Alcatraz
The tour is well produced and has an authenticity to it with their real life experiences as you walk through the various areas in the prison.
Alcatraz prison cellAlcatraz prison stairs
Alcatraz Island prison
You get to see everything from the shower rooms and library, to prison cells, solitary confinement and guard stations.
Number 13 prison cell at Alcatraz
Inside Alcatraz
The cells are small and the whole place is fairly bleak, but you are also able to roam around outside to get some fresh air.
Alcatraz Island Watchtower
Alcatraz Island ruins
Luckily we saw the prison in glorious sunshine, but I can imagine how grim it must have been when the cold fog rolled in.
Caged in at AlcatrazAlcatraz water tower
I can imagine the spectacular view of the city across the Bay would be quite unbearable if you were serving time at Alcatraz.
San Francisco The City by the Bay
After we'd been on the island for around two hours we caught the last boat of the day home at 6.10pm. We had originally planned to do a night tour, but they didn't seem to be offering those when we were visiting.
San Francisco Port
Anyway, following our historical tour we escaped The Rock and headed out for cocktails and dinner to lift our spirits and enjoy our last evening in San Francisco.

I'm off to enjoy my freedom on this gloriously sunny day in L.A...

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