As the previous few days had been so jam packed, we started off Monday with a much needed lie in before leaving our apartment in Santa Clara and heading for San Francisco. I was so excited to finally be visiting SF as it is somewhere that had been sitting near the top of my bucket list for a long time. Thanks to modern technology, it was relatively easy to find our next airbnb apartment in Eureka Valley. We had a couple of hours until check in so we parked the car and took a short walk down to the Castro. It was a shame that there were roadworks along the main street where the Castro theatre is; the whole street was pretty much dug up. What was great, however, was lunch at Harvey’s. I had a delicious bowl of mushroom soup and then shared a piece of chocolate cake with Ross. After lunch and a short wander around, we headed back to the apartment to check in.
I had been eyeing up a new camera lens (a 35mm) for some time and through my research I had found out it was cheaper to purchase one in America. I really wanted to have it for our trip to Alcatraz the next day, so we headed back out in the car to a camera store so that I could purchase one. When we returned we headed to the top of Kite Hill, which was right next to our apartment. The views across the city were spectacular!
The following day we awoke bright and early as we had booked the first boat out to Alcatraz that morning. Parking is not cheap around the area where Pier 33 is (where you catch the ferry to Alcatraz) but we decided it was the best option for me as public transport could have potentially exhausted me before we even made it to the ferry (little did I know at that point how much I would be able to push on and do!). Through a search on Google, I found a garage on Stockton Street that did an early bird deal and was the cheapest at the time. It wasn’t too far a walk from there to Pier 33.
My main aim for Alcatraz was to photograph the prison without people being in my photographs. I’m glad to say I achieved that! If you want to do the same I would definitely recommend getting the early morning ferry. After a short safety briefing when you get off the boat (which if I am honest I skipped most of when I spied people already making their way up to the prison!), you are free to walk up to the cell house. There is a tram that runs up to the cell house if walking is a struggle but I was too impatient and excited to wait for it. I actually managed the walk up pretty well, which surprised me as they had stated it was a 1/4 of a mile to walk from the dock to the cell house and the elevation change is equivalent to climbing a 13 story building!
Once inside you go through a door on the left to access the audio tour. I spotted a member of staff before the entrance to this stood at a staircase on the right-hand side. I excitedly asked him what the quickest way to the cell block was. He took one look at me clutching my camera and allowed my husband and I up the stair case which effectively bypassed the audio tour. We were the first people inside the prison that day and I had a blast photographing Alcatraz one step ahead of everyone else.
Once Ross and I finished exploring by ourselves and were happy with our photographs, we headed back down to join the queue for the audio tour. At this point the prison was becoming much busier and it would have been difficult to get good photographs like the one below.
The audio tour is a must-do as it is simply brilliant. You are guided through the prison whilst being told all the stories about former inmates and their infamous escape attempts. You are given a feel for what daily life was like in the prison and the sound effects played throughout really brought the story to life. If you are interested in seeing more of my photographs, you can see them over on my photography blog where I also talk about how I photographed Alcatraz.
On return to Pier 33, we took a walk along to Pier 39. This area was far too touristy for my liking but we went specifically to visit an NFL store. As there wasn’t much in the way for me to eat here, we decided to go to China Town to grab some lunch. It was great fun photographing the city and you can see a few more photographs here.
After we returned to the car, we decided to be touristy! We took a drive down Lombard Street, drove by the Painted Ladies (sadly one had scaffolding outside so I didn’t feel inspired to take a photograph) and then squeezed in a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Needless to say it was another incredibly busy day and if I am completely honest, I have absolutely no idea how I managed to do all of that! Sometimes your strength can surprise you.
If you would like to catch up with the rest of the posts in this series, you can find them here.