Now in a previous post I mentioned that we walked pretty much everywhere during our stay in San Francisco. This of course was not true for our trip to Alcatraz Island. If it were, having a maximum security prison there wouldn’t have been so effective.
We did walk to the ferry which was about a 1 ½ mile stroll from our hotel and from there took a 30 minute ferry-ride to the Island. When you get to Alcatraz you first watch a 15 minute movie about the history of the Island. It wasn’t just a prison, you know. Here are some fun facts about Alcatraz:
Translated from Spanish, Alacatraces (Anglicized to Alcatraz) means Pelicans, so the Island was originally known as Island of Pelicans. The island currently serves as a bird sanctuary.
Due to the island's centrally located spot in the San Francisco Bay, it was also used as a strategic military base during the California gold rush.
The original prison on Alcatraz was a military prison, converted into a Federal Prison in the 1920s.
In 1969-1971, Native Americans claimed Alcatraz as Indian Territory and a large group moved to the island.
All of these are great trivia facts, but probably the most important thing you need to know about Alcatraz Island is: there is no food service. Our trip was drastically cut short by the appearance of Jonathan’s “hungry monster” about 15 minutes in. Now, since I didn’t pay $60 bucks and take a 30 minute ferry ride to watch a film about the island, Jonathan agreed to tour the cell house while munching on the gummy bears I had stashed in my purse.
I enjoyed speed walking through the audio tour of the prison and Alcatraz has a great view of San Francisco. I know it's not a hospitable place to live, but it sure beats the view from my front porch. It’s definitely worth the trip and if you’re ever a tourist in San Francisco, it’s like an American rite of passage. And now I can’t wait for the TV show to come on!
The only other site we didn’t walk to was the Golden Gate Bridge. We did however, walk across it. Those who know me know that I am a big fat scaredy-cat. I have a phobia of pretty much every cliché fear in the book. (Except for snakes. Somehow, I’m cool with snakes. Go figure.). But phobia of heights + even more intense phobia of water= phobia of bridges.
Lucky for me, I married an engineer who isn’t the least bit interested in anything that defies the law of physics. Yea, right. We were walking across that bridge even if I wet my pants in the process. My anxiety was in no way alleviated by 40 mph gusts of wind, huge 18 wheelers driving past, or bicyclists whizzing by me and the sidewalk. Oh, and did you know that the bridge moves?
But it really is no big deal to walk across. Locals actually run on the bridge all the time. But if you do have some hesitation, I would advise going early in the morning. We were finishing our trek at about 10:30 and the tourists were just starting to pour onto the bridge. Earlier in the morning, except for a few joggers and cyclists, Jon and I had the whole thing to ourselves which is more convenient for having a Panic Attack.
Now the bridge is 1.7 miles across, so round trip its 3.4. If I did it over again, I’d ask the cab to drop us off on the far side so that we could have just walked one way and caught another cab on the flip side. There is nothing like getting across the bridge, patting yourself on the back for your extreme bravery and bladder control and then realizing you have to turn around and face the whole terrifying ordeal all over again. But I did it. Now, I have a really cool fact to use in my next game of “I never”.
And by the way, I was truly impressed with myself over this tiny accomplishment until on this season of The Bachelor they made poor Emily climb to the top of the Bay Bridge on her one-on-one date. I would have been like “Sorry Ben F., but you’re hotness is no substitute for Xanax.” Of course, since Jonathan has a huge man crush on Ben and an obsession with all things terrifying, I’m sure he would have gladly taken my place.