I missed it the first time back in 1994 and I wasn’t about to miss it out again.

If Manila has  Corregidor and New York would have Liberty/Ellis Island, then in SF, every tourist brochure  would say that you have do the Alcatraz.

Not that Im a big fan of prison camps but of course, there’s a lot to be said about the tourism marketeers of SF in trumpeting this island and making it one of the ‘must sees’ attractions in the city.

And so off I went and booked a ticket.

Tip: If you have limited time in SF (read: you want to cram in all the sights), then I suggest that you take the night tour. Its about $6.00 more expensive than the day tour but makes sightseeing time more efficient if you don’t fancy clubbing out at night.

In a nut shell: Alcatraz holds the notoriety of being the most toughest prison camps in the US. It was also the setting for the 1996 Nicolas Cage/Sean Connery nuclear action movie ‘the Rock’ which saw terrorists annihiliating SF from the the island.

There’s no missing the island (quite literrally) and given SF’s geography, you’re always within a street’s eye-view of island.  Alcatraz calling!

Here’s my first view from the ferry.

Note: the waters of SF Bay can be incredibly choppy (like that of Manila’s going to Corregidor) , the difference however is that it get’s biting cold in SF. There was a group of kids who opted to stay outside the covered area of ferry and I was almost tempted to do so until I saw them getting spashed all the way by the wind and waves.  Stay indoors, it takes only 20 mns from the ferry to the island.

My first view.  Wind was biting cold.

And I had no jacket.

I thought it was SUMMER in the city!

The island tourist infrastructure is very well develped.  Upon arrival, one is greeted by a guide who in turn leads the tour group (always a BIG one) to place where they can get their pre-recorded headsets . Very well narrated I must say. Here’s a view of the main cells.  Eeriily quiet without the hordes of tourists.

Until the next batch arrvies.

Obersvation: The island was crawling with Pinoys. Our guide was Pinoy.  The one who handed me my head set was Pinoy. The security who was roaming around was Pinoy. And fellow who manned the cash register was Pinoy.

Funny, I think I was only Pinoy tourist.

A view inside one of the cells.  This size reminds me of a studio-type condo unitit I checked out a few months ago, only that was a bit bigger.

the toilet (?)

the isolation room if you ever found yourself not behaving. Shudder.

Ironically, one of the best views of SF can be seen from Alcatraz. Pehaps a way of tormenting it’s inmates?

One of my favorite parts of the complex was the dinning area, then apparently the most dangerous area in the island. Yes, according to our guide especially when you have hundreds of America’s most hardened crimminals together at lunch time all wielding knives and forks with perhaps with an axe to grind to the guards or their fellow inmates!

Makes sense.

At the end the sign says it all.

An interesting tour.  Worth the US$31.50 (morning tour $24.00) for its well thought of recreational experience.  If it’s your first time to SF, you’d probablly have to do it unless you really dont dig crimminal history.

Tip: the pier (number 5?) where the ferries are is in a relatively obscure part of part of SF so if you take the night tour, best to get a taxi back to where youre from.