Journal Update 07th March 2005 / San Francisco, USA / Escape From Alcatraz
Well we certainly packed it all in today, getting up at 7.00 am (unheard of for Lazy J and myself) to rush down to
the pier to purchase our hot ticket for Alcatraz.
Alas even though we were there at 8.45 am they were already announcing that the morning tours were sold out and
that we would have to get the 2.15 pm tour if any. Joe used his English/cockney charm and managed to wangle us on
a midday tour (though he was very disappointed as he wanted to see Alcatraz in a Pea souper fog and really feel
like one of the inmates). We took a cab up to Haight St (unheard of for us) but alas it was way too early for all
the whacked out hippies to get out of bed so we decided to get the bus back and walk along the front to kill time
till 12.00. We were surprised the ferry ride over to the rock only took about 10 minutes and we were there. We
tried to get on the invalid truck that takes you to the top of the hill (using Joes gimpy leg as a ruse to get on)
but they wouldn't let me ride with him (Jobsworth). So we walked with all the other Paroles to the Gaol house.
We did the audio tour and heard all the escape stories and about the Bird Man of Alcatraz (who never actually kept
any birds at Alcatraz), Al Capone (who according to one inmate was a street fighter who wasn't all there in the
brain department) and about the 3 that escaped but were never heard of again. It gets mighty cold in that prison
cell and I was pleased when we were able to escape back on to the ferry. The worst thing about being a prisoner
there must have been the close proximity to San Francisco and to see all those people living their lives when you
were banged up.
After walking up and down hills for ages we decided to head back to the hotel and take the car for a drive
around town. We drove up to Haight Ashbury but after 3/4 of an hour trying to park we gave up and decided to
drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. My map reading took us totally the wrong way but eventually we got there
just as the night was drawing in. What a spectacular view and how cool to drive across that bridge. Our last stop
was Mels Drive in Diner which was apparently in "American Graffiti". We had two malted milk shakes with
a cherry on top and burgers. It was much better than Mc Donalds. We are taking the car back tomorrow to the airport
and then plan to buy a key ring for Pete.
Journal Update 08th March 2005 / San Francisco USA
So tomorrow afternoon it is farewell San Francisco and hello Rayleigh. It doesn't have quite the same ring to it,
but hey we had a good run for Joes' money!
So on our last day we drove across the Bay Bridge to Oakland and then parted ways with our groovy Hertz car at
the airport. After we took the BART (BAY AREA RAPID TRANSPORT) into town and went to Haight Ashbury to check out
the vintage shops.
Unfortunately it wasn't as cool as my rose tinted memory and the place was full of bums and shops selling crack
Then we took the BART out to the college town of Berkeley, which is where California University is based,
so prowled the stores there and had a few drinks in a bar which was very similar to Cheers. There was a guy
in there that had been visiting that bar since 1976! I don't think his name was Norm though.
As usual Joe played "Man at the Bar" and regaled the clientele with stories of our trip. A strange
guy at the end of the bar got very interested and came over to chat to us. It turns out he lives in Japan and
teaches at a diplomatic school. He was very interested in Vietnam and he told us he had been there about 6 or 7
times, twice during the war. We decided there was something very CIA about him but we couldn't quite put our
fingers on what it was (perhaps his shiny shoes and slicked across hair).