Alcatraz is infamous due to its history as an inescapable prison. Its featured loads of movies and also for the clientele that had the privilege of spending some quality time on “The Rock”.
Today its a major San Francisco tourist destination.
Tip 1 – buy your tickets in advance online, else you may not get to go as it sells out. Also there were huge queues waiting to buy tickets on the day we went. Why wait in line when you don’t have to? You can buy tickets online here and it costs $US30 for adults.
Tip 2 – try to get the earliest ferry across as it gets crowded. We did the first ferry of the day and for a few minutes at least, we had the place to ourselves.
Tip 3 – dress in layers, we went in July and it was cold! Some of the parts of the tour are outside so be prepared.
The tour is a self guided audio tour available in various languages, told by the guards and some of the inmates. This was fascinating to hear about the place in their own words.
The tour takes you through the cell block, dining hall, laundry, administration and exercise yards and tells you what life was like not only for the inmates but also the guards. You learn about certain famous prisoners and also some of the historic events that occured at the prison along with escape attempts.
I think the thing that stuck with me, as it’s a couple of years since went, was the idyllic childhood that was had by the children of the guards. They were free to roam the island as they chose, play outside late and do whatever they wanted as they were completely safe – isolated from the prisoners and secure on the island.
The island is also a bird refuge for various seabirds including gulls which had fledgling chicks when we visited.
The beautiful gardens were also a surprise. I don’t know much about gardening but they were very pretty. Many of the plants and plantings are original.