Day 5 (30/3)- SF Alcatraz & Other sights

Today was Alcatraz visit, ferry terminal was a short 15 minute walk from our hotel. Clear and cold morning, the weather was holding on well for us.

We were booked on the 9:15am ferry, were very surprised to see the swarm of people already there, I had thought we were going to be the first few. Am glad we had pre-booked the tickets from Brisbane, most of the tickets to the morning ferry were already sold out.

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Ferry ride was a short 10 minutes, provided us with great views of the bay bridge and the surrounds. Stepping outside on the ferry to view these great sights was COLD, the outside breeze was very chilly, but definitely worth it.

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On the rock, we quickly got around to exploring the place, wanted to get to the cell blocks fast. Was a bit of a walk uphill.

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Finally at the main prison cell.

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So far it had been fun and we were expecting the same, however behind the prison doors the experience was to be very different.
Stepping through the main doors, we found our selves in the main shower area for prisoners, no privacy, simply rows of showerheads with cold water. DSC08151

Next we each got the audio tour headsets, these were great, you tailor the audio tour to your pace and it walked us through the entire cell and its amenities with sound effects that allowed us to feel the prison environment. The guided commentary gave a very good impression of being in Alcatraz. Towards the end, the feeling inside us was not happy at all – Americas hardest prison on the doorstep of San Francisco. Great tour and experience, but I would not be taking that tour again, it had sucked out all the happy feelings out of us by the end of the tour.

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Some great views outside the administration building on Alcatraz

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(some interesting facts on prisoner counts!)

Time to get off the island, we had enough of the not so happy feelings, now to go back to the brighter side of holidays!

Rainforest Café & Aaria’s 6th Birthday
Back at Pier, short walk to Fishermans Wharf, we headed for the Rainforest café for lunch. This place had a jungle themed restaurant, with a variety of wild animated animals. Kids enjoyed this place. It was also Aaria’s 6th birthday today, good place to celebrate that. Pooja and Neha had already picked a Disney gift for her. Food here was average, nothing to rave about or recommend, a one off visit is enough.

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Ghirardelli
No stop to San Francisco is complete without a stop over at the famous Ghirardelli chocolate & Ice Cream store. Having just had lunch, ice cream sundaes were missed, but the chocolate tasting was devine!

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Lombard St (Crooked Street)

Next stop was Lombard street, do the crooked street walk. The cable car turntable (starting station) was directly next to Ghirardelli, however the queue there was toooooo long, possibly a wait of around 2 hours! We noticed all the cars leaving the station were not fully loaded with people, they were leaving a few seats empty for other station pickups. Decided to take a short walk to the next station and board the cable car from there, and was that a good move! No queues there and got on the next car with ease. After a steep climb up Hyde St, got off at the Lombard street stop. Very cold and windy up here, and loads of people. Did the crooked street walk all the way down and up. Was very nice to see the houses on the street with there car ports and small entry’s on to lombard street.

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(hurray, completed the Crooked Street!!)

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China Town

Next stop was China Town, however getting on to the cable car from lombard street station was proving to be very difficult, all cars were packed and no one was getting off, after trying the next 5 cars unsuccessfully, resorted to Cabs and were on our way to the famous SF China town. A bit of a let down it was, not that impressed.

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By this stage we were close to Union Square, ladies could not help visit more shops, shopping always seems to revive the female species !!!
Dinner was decided for Italian again, head back to Columbus street, we were in love with that place. We were lucky with the cable car getting out of union square, but it required a few of us to be standing on the outside, I was with Pooja and Nita was with Neha on the other side. Neha finally got to stand on the outside and hang out.

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Arrived at Columbus street and decided to try the Calzone restaurant, this one was noticed yesterday. Food was very good, but could not surpass Mona Lisa! Garlic fries were wow!

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Got two cabs back to our hotel, was a great long day, we had covered lots today!

About dharmeshkalyan

Have always loved travelling and will continue to pursue this love. Favourite Travel quotes: “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine
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