Day 79–81: San Francisco and Alcatraz

San Francisco has some stunning scenery and it certainly is a unique place to visit. It’s possible that Canada had just as many bad points to each city, but I subconsciously decided to be blind to them. Here, however, they felt obvious and stuck out to me like a splinter. I don’t want to dwell on them, so I’ll get them over and done with first so I can move onto the good stuff.

I started to get fed up with people asking me how I was, without make eye-contact and walking away before I could answer. It felt far colder than if I wasn’t asked in the first place. It’s something small and meaningless, I know, but it was our first impression of the city. And if you need to take one train and two busses to get anywhere, then you have to pay for all three. We slowly realised that using an Uber-Pool was much cheaper than using public transport ($16-18 for two as opposed to $14 for one), but still not as cheap as New York, where you could go from one end of the city to the other for $2.75.

The last thing that bugged me was how the homeless were being treated, which was like shit. One scruffy guy sat down next to me in a fast-food joint and quietly minded his own business for about five minutes, before an employee went up to him and shouted “OUT”, with his arm stretched towards the door. The homeless guy, quite rightly, replied with “don’t talk to me like a f***ing dog”, before shuffling out. He was one of a few homeless people who were made to leave restaurants and shops for just walking in. Maybe a few of them cause trouble, but I didn’t see anything remotely close enough to warrant the way they were spoken to.

Now onto the good stuff! San Francisco is hella expensive, so the street performers were competitively awesome! This particular guy played the bass, keyboard, guitar, drums and sang. Hats off to him.

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We also found that the place was colourful! After spending the morning feeling unsure about the place, it was hard not to have our spirits lifted by the scenery around us.

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Lastly, the food is verrrry good. Most of it is pretty expensive but there are some spots that are decently priced, and the seafood is comparatively very cheap! This clam chowder was under $6 (under 5 without the bread!), and was from one of the permanent food stalls which are everywhere along the peer.

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In every direction in Fisherman’s Wharf, there was something that could catch you eye.

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Who hurt you Sea Lion?!

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One of the best places we saw was Alcatraz. Alcatraz housed some of the most dangerous felons from 1934 to 1963, with one of those felons being Al Capone. I know Al Capone was a gangster, but I couldn’t tell you much of what he did. He actually looked quite cuddly! (Al Capone is far left in this picture).

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If staying in one of those cells wasn’t enough, they had a special wing of isolation, called ‘D’ block. You would stay in there in total darkness for up to 12 days if you were caught fighting or you tried to attack an officer. One prisoner said that the only way to stop himself from going mad is to throw a button in the air, listen out for where it landed and pick it up. Another inmate said he went with the madness and tried to enjoy the hallucinations. They say that some of the worst punishments are the simple ones; it was pretty eerie standing inside one of those cells, even for a minute.

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Only in some of the more open cells did I feel able to goof around.

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I don’t know if these exact articles are genuine or not, but the prisoners found catharsis in art and craft. Apparently crocheting became a big thing in the prisons, with many wanting to learn how to do it.

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The prisoners who managed to be in cells facing San Francisco were considered to be the lucky ones. Not because they could see the city, but because twice a day this would happen.

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I have a few more photos that I’m not sure how to categorise, but want to include anyway. It wasn’t just the inmates who lived on this island, but many of the prison guards and their families. The children that grew up on Alcatraz speak of it quite highly, saying they had a great childhood there.

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As much as I love seeing the back of my head and my squinty mc squintyface up close, the views from Alcatraz weren’t going to cut it as far as the Golden Gate Bridge was concerned.

The last big highlight out our stay in San Francisco was the bike ride up to this tower (bridge) of strength. The best bit about seeing this triumphant piece of architecture was that we had to earn the view. We were NOT going to be lazy and get an Uber, so it was either an hours bike ride or a two hours walk. We chose the bikes. You can rent one from near pier 39 for $8 an hour each, which brought our total to $32. Again, not as cheap as NY, but close.

 

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San Francisco is definitely worth a visit. You don’t need some random Welsh person telling you that really. While I feel that not mentioning the negative stuff I found would be lying by omission, it is totally possible that they just stood out to me because I’d become used to smaller towns and countryside. I didn’t fall in love with San Francisco like I thought I would, but I did enjoy my time there.

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4 thoughts on “Day 79–81: San Francisco and Alcatraz

  1. Sorry to hear that you didn’t like SF as much as you thought it would. All the big cities that I’ve been to have a big homeless problem and it’s unfortunate the person you saw got treated the way he did. I went to SF a few years ago and along Fisherman’s wharf, there used to be a homeless guy that would go out of his way of scaring tourists. It was kind of fun to watch and it looked like he had a good time doing it. 🙂 Hope the rest of your travels are better!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess I knew there would be another side to what I saw. People tend to have a justification for their actions, we just don’t always see it. I’m definitely up for good stories about the place as I wasn’t content walking away without a good overall opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

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