Tourists Our Own Backyard: Alcatraz Night Tour

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

We have had quite the adventurous weekend! Here's the update on our adventures in being tourists in our own backyard. It helps when your backyard is already a tourist attraction.

All of the picture credit for this post goes to my friend Katie. She actually brought a camera that doesn't also make phone calls.

We live in an area that people travel from all over the world to visit. Part of the perks of living here is getting to do those touristy things whenever we get the hankering. 

Our friends, Erin and Alex, had gotten tickets as a birthday present a while back, and it was time to put those to good use! Three of the five group members had never been to Alcatraz before, and no one had taken the night tour.

Before getting on the boat to the island, there are mandatory photographs with an Alcatraz background. We made one with a real Alcatraz background.
 On the night tour, the ferry boat takes a slightly different route and goes the long way around the island. It means you can see more of it that is too dangerous to approach on land.

Like this area where you are almost certain to get Tetanus. 
 It's also entirely worth it for the sunset viewed from the bay.

The island has gone through a lot in it's history, and most of it has left marks that persist. During the 1970s there was an American Indian occupation of the island. Graffiti from that time is still found on the dock and on the water tower.

Once off the boat, you begin the night tour with the same audio tour visitors during the day experience. The English version is special because it is narrated by former guards and prisoners of Alcatraz from it's time as a federal prison.

Most of the cells are missing some of the standard issue furniture that would have been present when it was functional. Things like beds, sheets, cups, etc. But some are still maintained to give you an idea of what the cell might have looked like in the 1960s.
One of our special talks on the night tour was a demonstration of cell door opening. The roar of all of the doors sliding open, and the silence following, were haunting.

Matt demonstrating the listen and walk of the audio tour in front of one of the isolation rooms.
 It was an unusually warm night, but it can get very cold out on Alcatraz. If you plan to try this, we strongly suggest bringing a fleece jacket. That's the real reason so many people by San Francisco sweatshirts.

What it looks like to see San Francisco from the rock. According to the guides, when the wind is right, you can hear the sounds of the city (cars honking, people talking) from Alcatraz.
 The real perk of doing the night tour is getting to see areas that are not normally open.

For our tour, the main specially opened area was the Hospital.

Some of the famous inmates, like "Birdman", spent more of their time in this area than their cell.

Operating Room
 The last boat left at 9:25pm. Matt took pity on my history loving soul and took the earlier boat back to relieve the babysitter (I think he loves me!)

We might have had a little fun waiting for the boat. 

I saw this before catching the boat over. Cool, it's a model. But when we came back it had LIGHTS! It even has a moving light in the lighthouse, just like on Alcatraz. Now I'm impressed.

If you do get the chance to see Alcatraz while you are visiting San Francisco, make sure to reserve the tickets far in advance of your trip! Even for day tour, but especially for night tour. We had to make these reservations (October) in July.

But it's popular because it's really cool, and so far my favorite touristy thing in the city.

1 comment :

  1. Whoa, that would looks like such an incredible place to visit!!!


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