The big advantage of travelling solo is that you often don’t have to plan things way in advance. That popular hostel might have one bed left and popular activities have that spot that others don’t want to fill. And so it happened that I got lucky in San Francisco on my trip to Alcatraz. I hadn’t realized that boats got booked well in advance and I might miss out! Being only the lonely I got a ticket for the same day though.
After an hour wait I hopped on the boat towards the infamous island. Every ticket comes with a specific time and this means that there is not much waiting around from then on. Being one of the first I got the prime spot on the boat and enjoyed the chilly morning ride. It was clouded and windy and thus the weather added to the experience.
Arrived at the island, a park ranger introduced the environment to us, including the house rules (if you have to litter, do it in the city). Going on towards the cells I received an audio tour that was very informative. It told me about life in jail and specific stories that had happened here. Some inmates tried to make holes in the wall with a spoon. They climbed up via the pipes of the ventilation system and nobody knows if they survived their escape.
Alcatraz has had many people trying to escape, but the chill of the sea would kill many in their first moments of freedom. Alcatraz was the place where people were sent that had tried to escape from other jails. The cells looked exactly as I’d imagined them. They were tiny. There was a toilet right against the bed. Some cells you could enter. I did it reluctantly . Why do places like these give me the creeps? It’s not like the door’s going to close and I’ll be in there forever. Yet, there’s always that feeling of fear, standing in such a small space with massive doors.
The island didn’t only host inmates, but also families of whom the father worked in the prison. There were small houses and even a bowling alley. It was cool to wander around the island, even though some areas were closed because the birds were breeding. I took about two hours and then took the boat back to the mainland. Back on the fisherman’s wharf I was back in reality. There is such a big contrast between these worlds. You’ve seen it in movies, you’ve heard about it, but to really experience it, you have to visit it.