Ever since I saw Alcatraz, I’ve always wanted to go there. I got my chance this year and to make it extra special I went on the night tour. Unfortunately, it didn’t get dark until the last fifteen minutes of the tour, but I still thoroughly enjoyed my time at Alcatraz. Here are my impressions, and an overview of how it all went down.
Before embarking on my epic voyage, I treated myself to a giant burger and some animal fries from the secret menu at IN-N Out Burger. Then it was off to the PIER 39 where I grabbed some coffee and spent time reading all the information boards on the cruise ship. I saw a lot of cool historical photos, some memorable quotes, and an impressive Alcatraz miniature while I waited for my cruise ship.
Once I got in line for my departure time, a cameraman took a picture of me with an Alcatraz in the background.However, I found out the photo wasn’t free, so I passed on keeping it as a souvenir. On the cruise boat I discovered there were three levels. I choose to stay in the middle because there was less wind blowing, and it wasn’t as cold the other levels. The view leaving the pier was excellent and made me appreciate the beauty of San Francisco. Upon approaching Alcatraz, I was filled with excitement and couldn’t wait to depart and explore it thoroughly.
Once on the island our tour guide gave us a detailed history of Alcatraz and pointed out things of interest like an old car, told stories about prisoners escapes, and more interesting facts. After about twenty minutes, we traveled upwards through a tunnel and then something unexpected happened.
Unlike a normal heavy hand holding tour, we were free to explore the Alcatraz at our leisure( minus the restricted areas) and take our time seeing what we wanted. It was a nice change of pace from other tours that force you to stay with the guide the whole time.
Next, I began my Alcatraz journey in the prison cells. Upon arrival, I received an audio tour guide in English, and I was impressed there were several others available in six languages. You could listen to the recording while walking around the island, and I thought the narration from the Alcatraz prisoners was a smart move.
Walking around the prison cells area I saw decayed buildings, and it looked like a nightmare to sleep here at night. Some of the prison cells were open, and I welcomed the opportunity to ask someone to take a photo of me locked behind bars. Like the outside area by the cruise ship, there were lots of quotes from prisoners and info on the walls.
I also appreciated all the little details during the tour like photos of security guards, a classic coke machine, telephone and office equipment. Seeing some of the rooms at night in the dark looked really creepy, and one of the area’s looked like a torture area.
The end of the tour led straight to a gift shop. Everything from books, classic work instruments like pots, Alcatraz rocks for memorabilia was here. I was amazed how much films and documentaries on Alcatraz there are, and I’m looking forward to watching some of them later
Outside AlcatrazI saw some magnificent views of San Francisco and plenty of seagulls. One of my favorite spots was the tower and the garden area. I was disappointed that parts of the island were blocked off like the morgue, but I can understand because of safety concerns.
When it started getting dark the tour guide signal us to head back and continued to give us more stories.The island definitely felt more spooky at night, and I would encourage anyone who hasn’t gone to Alcatraz before to do that to get the best experience. My time at Alcatraz was worthwhile, and I’m looking forward to seeing Angel Island next.
Thanks for reading.