Our last day in San Francisco we started with a tour of the iconic Alcatraz Island. All of the travel websites say this is worth going to and it definitely is. Yes, it may be touristy but it’s also really interesting and beautiful. I purchased our tickets online about a month prior (you have to as this is such a popular attraction) and secured the first morning ferry out so that we’d beat a bit of the crowds and still have a good portion of the day to do other stuff as well. There are night tours of Alcatraz as well which I’ve heard are really cool but, even a month in advance, these were sold out for the day we wanted to go.
So you take a 20 minute ferry ride out to the island, getting a nice view of the city on your way out, and then you dock at the main (and only) dock on Alcatraz Island. We were greeted by one of the park rangers who gave us some general information and were informed that there was a garden tourthat was being offered that
The only thing behind bars on Alcatraz now, are the geraniums (to protect them from the birds)
morning that would take you through some of the less-seen areas of the island as well as see a bit of “behind-the-scenes” stuff. Since this was a free tour it sounded like a great way to tour the island and learn more about its history before heading up to the main prison building.
"Tour Starts Here"
After the garden tour concluded we were encouraged to take the Agave Trail to go back down to the ferry, as it went down past the bird sanctuary on the coast. So keeping that in mind we headed into the main building, picked up our audio tour headsets, and walked around with lots of other folks, hearing from previous inmates and guards, about life at Alcatraz.
After the audio tour we took the Agave Trail as recommended. It’s a pretty walk down the island, lots of its namesake plant along the trail,
Air show practice over Alcatraz Island
as well as great views of San Francisco across the Bay. It’s scary imagining being imprisoned there, with the city and its “normal life” seemingly just out of reach. We had to wait a while to board the next ferry and were annoyed by the vast quantity of flies that apparently hatch at this time of year, but thankfully once we were on the ferry and moving they dissipated. As we were leaving the island we were treated to another air show practice, this time not just by the sleek Blue Angels jets but by the older planes as well. All my Fleet Week air show photos are on Flickr if you’d like to see more planes 🙂 Also, the rest of my Alcatraz and San Francisco photos are also online.
Once we were back in the city we headed out towards San Jose, stopping at an amazing Chinese place in the Mission District (aptly names Mission Chinese Food) for a quick lunch. Jeremy had seen this place recommended in the New York Times and it was also well reviewed by the travel sites and Foursquare. So taking Foursquare tip recommendations we ordered the Salt Cod Fried Rice and the Cumin Lamb Belly. The rice was very good with just a hint of the fishy salt cod flavor, but the lamb was amazing, perfectly spiced pieces of lamb broiled so that the fat melted and caramelized along with the onions and few peppers in the dish, so good!
After this late light lunch we headed out to San Jose to meet up with a couple from Williamsburg who had moved out here a few months ago. We met at The Counter, a build-your-own burger place, and had a great time catching up. After dinner we took a stroll around the downtown area, trying to keep up with their two year old son, and then parted ways and drove the hour back to San Francisco. Since we leave very early tomorrow morning we are heading to bed early, back to the real world tomorrow!
It’s been a great trip. It has been quire fun to see Jeremy and my parents interact (and get along well 😉 ) as well as see this side of the country that I’ve heard so much about. There are definitely lots of things I’d like to come back and see, more photos to take, more wines to taste, more great restaurants to find, and I’m looking forward to it 🙂