Escape from Alcatraz

We only had a couple of days to spend in San Francisco, so as soon as we had crossed the Bay Bridge we headed straight to Alcatraz – the main attraction that we both wanted to see. We originally wanted to get on the spooky night tour, but it was booked out – so we decided to get on the last tour of the day to catch the sunset on the way back. The ferry ride over was lovely. It made me think of Greece. The warm afternoon glow reflected on the waves, the sea breeze felt cool and refreshing, and the view of the San Francisco skyline looked gorgeous as we left the terminal.

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san_fran_skyline

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We spotted the rock from far away, and got quite excited as we pulled up to the landing terminal:

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alcatraz_landing

We visited the cells – it felt strange and spooky despite the warm sunshine.

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36 people have apparently attempted to escape from the island – only two attempts (in 1937 and 1962) may have been successful, since the escapees simple disappeared without a trace – did they drown? Did they make in to safety? Nobody knows! Here’s how the dudes in 1962 did it: they made dummies out of soap and real hair (!!) to create decoys in their cells, and then escaped through this ventilation shaft behind the cell wall: 

alcatraz_escape_route

The inside of the prison was fascinating, but after a while it became quite stifling. We stepped out to the yard and grounds to enjoy the evening sun and breath in the fresh air – it made such a difference! I can only imagine how hard it was to be locked up in there, but i couldn’t help thinking that there must be far worse locations as far as prisons go.

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The view from the grounds was awesome – we were once again told how lucky we were that the city skyline wasn’t shrouded in fog.

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Alcatraz stopped operating as a prison in 1963. A few years later, in 1969, a group of native americans took over the abandoned rock as a symbolic gesture. They occupied Alcatraz for about 19 months, trying to raise awareness of the problems native american peoples were facing – but were removed in 1971 under Nixon. The rock has been a national park since 1972, but traces of the occupation are still to be seen around the island:

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The sun was setting as we took the ferry back to the city – just as we had hoped. San Francisco looked like a magical place and we couldn’t wait to explore.

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(and looking back at these pictures i wonder why we ever left the place). Spoiler alert: San Francisco was the only city we visited where i actually said, i could live here. Now i just can’t wait to go back.

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