Wednesday 15 September 2010

Day 19 – Escaping The Rock To A Giant Waste Of Time

One of the best things about this trip is getting to visit truly iconic places, the kind of places you normally only ever see in photos or movies. It’s an amazing feeling to arrive somewhere that has so much history; to walk where so many people have walked before you. In some ways you feel late to the game, like you’re some kinda idiot for only just getting there. In other ways you feel like you’ve just added yourself to all that history.
In all these cities there are so many things on offer to tourists that you can’t help but start to take note of what is worth your money and what isn’t. If you’re ever in San Francisco, trust me, Alcatraz is worth every penny of your $26. And it was definitely one place you can only describe as iconic, you felt it with every step.
The audio tour was the most interesting one I’ve ever taken. Usually I get bored with audio tours about 15 minutes in, but not this time! It was obvious that life on The Rock was tough to survive and rightly so because it housed the most hardened criminals of the time.
Most interesting was learning about the escape attempts, clearly not an easy task from a prison surrounded by freezing water and strong currents. One notorious prison break ended with three guards being shot. Bill Miller became a hero after hiding the key that thwarted the escape, but he paid for his bravery with his life. Standing in the cell where he died was surprisingly emotional.
The most curious incident though is still a mystery. Three inmates made it out by using fake heads as a decoy while they went through their cell vents and up the inner walls. What happened to them after they got in the water nobody knows! Most think they were killed by the power of the tide, but being just over a mile from land, both Joe and I had our doubts…
Escaping from The Rock ourselves we made our way round the docks to Pier 39 and its famous seals. The lazy beasts made quite a racket and, despite appearing to live on top of each other, none of them seemed to get on; they constantly roared at their neighbors! We moved on to grab some lunch next door at Fishermans Wharf. Yum, sourdough soup bowls!
After an afternoon nap (the tourist life is exhausting!), we headed off to AT&T park for a Giants game. San Francisco’s ballpark is not that impressive, but their fans are the most passionate I’ve seen. It didn’t help that they were playing their rivals, The Dodgers. It constantly felt like it was going to kick off between the two sets of fans – almost like being at a premiership game in London! – and we even saw a dude get ejected, he wasn’t too happy about it though!
The game ended up being disappointingly boring, not to mention cold, so we made a quick exit in the 6th and hopped back on the Street Car to call it a night.
So, until tomorrow…

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