The one thing we have both been looking forward to was our trip to Alcatraz. Our tour of Alcatraz was slightly misleading. We bought tickets for a night tour, thinking it would be dark when we were touring the prison, but it turned out to mean “after the day tours”.
Our ferry departed at 6:45pm and it was a cool, windy day. Of course, I forgot my light jacket, you know the one I brought to San Francisco just for this outing? Yeah. It was cold. and windy. We were the only ones on the boat without a jacket or sweatshirt. Whoops! We took the short ferry ride over to the island. Did I mention it was windy? Check out my hair in this photo.
As we got closer to the island, the captain started telling us some historical information about the island, which was pretty cool.
Before we got off the ferry, they made sure to tell us that the last two boats leaving the island boarded at 8:45 and 9:25. All the guided tours of Alcatraz include an audio tour, which I’ve heard great things about from everyone who has taken it. We had a terrific experience with an audio tour in York, England when we toured the Minster church, so this one had some big shoes to fill. We got up the hill pretty quickly (ok, we cheated and hopped on the tram…hey, it was there and available).
We arrived at the beginning of the tour, got suited up with our headphones and we were on our way. At first, there were a lot of people congregated in one space, but you could pause the audio track whenever you wanted to so in a few minutes the crowds thinned out as people started traveling at their own paces. We were on the look out for funny photo opportunities and of course we were not disappointed.
We passed through one of the cell blocks and were looking into the cells. They are 5x9x7, about the size of our kitchen. Seriously!
Let’s talk about the condition of the toilets and sinks…I know the place hasn’t been used in over 40 years so that must explain the plumbing issues. Could this be a job for Scubbing Bubbles?
As we were walking through there was one open cell that everyone was just walking by. Of course Jose decides to step inside it, so I start snapping pictures like crazy. People walking by started laughing and waiting for their turn and soon there was a huge line waiting to get inside the cell. That’s my husband…the trendsetter…always climbing into the jail cell.
Kitchen/dining hall area.
View from a little window in the Recreation Yard door
One of the stops on the tour talked about an escape attempt that involved taking guards hostage. These markings on the floor were made by grenades dropped to stop the escape attempt.
There was another escape, this one involving three prisoners. They did manage to escape from Alcatraz, but were never found. It’s unknown whether they survived the swim or not. They used spoons to carve a larger hole in their vent and then climbed out using the existing pipe system. Similiar to, but not exactly like The Shawshank Redemption (one of my top 10 favorite movies AND short stories.)
Halfway through our tour, someone needed to take a bathroom break and it wasn’t me. 🙂 You all know how I feel about public toilets…I’d never use the bathroom at Alcatraz, let alone do this. Eewwwww.
We toured all the cell blocks and even went into one of the solitary confinement AKA isolation cells. These were a little larger, but had doors and then cell doors, too. We got a few creepy pictures and an equally creep video. Jose was doing his best Blair Witch Project impression here. Check out the guy that walked into the cell, freaked out a bit and quickly left.
We walked through the entire prison, and even went upstairs to tour the medical facility. That was cool and very creepy. Some of the rooms only had one light in the corner, or just a piece of medical equipment like an operating table or xray machine.
Here’s Jose standing in the medical cell of the Birdman of Alcatraz. For some reason, I couldn’t spend a lot of time in this cell.
Here are some random shots that didn’t really fit anywhere else in this post.
As we left the prison, the sun was setting and the grounds started getting dark. We walked down the big hill and as we rounded a corner, Jose yelled “Oooh yeah!!” and started pointing. Up ahead, in a small building was the prison morgue. FUN! NOT! I took a picture of him outside the morgue and then passed the camera to Jose. He took a few pictures inside the window while I stood far far away.
The buildings on Alcatraz have not fared well due to the weather conditions, the salt erosion and the damage done by the Native Americans that took over in the 60s. The state of the buildings does help set the mood of the tour, and it’s strange to think about the 1500 men who were incarcerated here. In addition to the men, women and children who lived on the island.
I know there are a TON of photos here, you’re probably surpised to learn that I left a lot more out. I don’t want to spoil the experience for you, when you tour Alcatraz. I hope I didn’t. It’s worth doing. When it was all said and done, this audio tour was amazing. I’d highly recommend it for anyone who hasn’t been to Alcatraz. You’ll be fascinated. they did a very phenomenal job of producing the audio portion and planning out the tour.