Ausflug nach Alcatraz - Trip to Alcatraz
Around the World,  USA

A Trip to Alcatraz

Coit Tower
Coit Tower

A trip to Alcatraz …

is on our agenda today. Yesterday we were already at Pier 33, where the boats to Alcatraz dock and disembark. We were told that booking online is easier and quicker, that you can choose your own time and that everything is much simpler.

The fact is that we are still awake quite early in the morning; after all, we are nine hours behind German time. If we feel fit here at five o’clock, it’s already two o’clock in the afternoon at home! What’s more, breakfast at the hotel is simply outrageously expensive: for a portion of egg benedict and a couple of awful-tasting pancakes, accompanied by a pot of coffee, we pay almost exactly 80 dollars, including the obligatory tip. That is quite simply a joke!

So on the way to the pier we want to buy a coffee and a snack at a bakery somewhere and then get on the boat. But apparently even the bakers want to sleep in on a Sunday; at least we keep our beaks clean, as there are no stores open for miles around.

But the weather this morning is really nice, the sky is blue and the sun warms us up nicely. So the 2.5 km or so to Pier 33, the starting point for the excursion to Alcatraz, is a relaxed Sunday stroll.

Although we arrived at our destination a good half hour early and could have boarded the earlier boat, we waited dutifully for ours, were the first on the boat and managed to secure four chairs at the railing. The Golden Gate Bridge glows red in the sun and Alcatraz comes closer.

What we then get to see on the old prison island is pretty impressive. According to eyewitnesses, the conditions in the building before the last prisoner left the island in 1963 were very depressing. The tour of the cell wing is mainly conducted by former inmates and guards via audio guide, which makes the story even more authentic and personal.

We get to see the different types of cells and learn about the means by which the prisoners tried to keep themselves sane. One eyewitness reports that he was once placed in solitary confinement, where thick iron doors shut out all daylight. He threw up a button on his clothes and then searched for it in complete darkness until he found it. Then the game started all over again, and all just to keep his head and body from drifting off into complete emptiness.

The sun was shining today and it was relatively warm. However, there was no heating in the cell block and you don’t really want to imagine the icy wind whistling through the cells and the prisoners freezing like tailors.

It gets exciting when the various escape attempts are mentioned. You can still see the holes that were dug into the walls with simple spoons without the guards being allowed to notice. The well-known movie “Escape from Alcatraz” is said to have come very close to the facts.

And the escape from the cell was not the only successful escape: afterwards, the San Francisco Bay, whose icy waters have enormous currents and whirlpools, had to be swum through. Kind of scary!

As I said, the weather is fine today, which takes away some of the horror that a sensitive visitor might feel on a trip to Alcatraz.

So we take the boat back to Pier 33 around midday and decide to treat ourselves to “something from Mexico”. On our way, we first pass through the Italian quarter, where we come across the North Beach Cantina, a restaurant serving churros, enchiladas and so on. There is plenty of seating and food that is not even that good, but once again outrageously expensive,

I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that Americans across the board have little problem spending 100 dollars on a snack and drinks for two. And the emphasis is on a little something!

Then we make our way back to Union Square, where we get a glimpse of the luxury of Tiffany’s, Cartier, LV and Cie. from a reasonable distance. At least there’s an ice cream parlor there for everyone, which is then filled with many enthusiastic and cheerful people.

However, we are getting tired and after a good nine kilometers of walking, we return to the hotel for the time being to get some rest. Let’s see if we can do anything else tonight!


One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *