Thursday, March 22, 2018

San Francisco: Alcatraz, Union Square & more


We went to bed rather early Sunday evening as we had tickets for an Alcatraz tour. Before heading back to our hotel room Sunday evening, we stopped at CVS to pick up a few things to store in our fridge that way we could eat breakfast in our room Monday morning. It was a good call as we got to sleep in a little later as we did not have to stop to get breakfast Monday morning.

I thought the area that we had to wait to board the boat was beautiful with all the succulents.
I couldn't help but to take a few pictures.




On the boat :)

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Our first sighting of the Golden Gate Bridge!
This was such an exciting moment for Sean and me.


Sean has always, always wanted to check out Alcatraz and me, well, not so much. I honestly thought that it was strange that people have always seemed to glamorize notorious criminals. They did bad things. Why are we so intrigued? Well, I was wrong. It was truly more like a history lesson. We learned the ins and outs of Alcatraz. We saw the conditions the inmates lived in, we learned of correction officers who lost their lives at the hands of these inmates, we learned of inmates who tried to escape the prison and also of the three inmates that escaped and were never heard of again. Some people say they made it but when you see the island up close and personal you wonder, how in the world did they do it? But then again, these inmates created human like heads to fool the guards with practically nothing and drilled holes in their cells to get out, so anything is possible.

There were sections that were closed off due to safety concerns but for the most part, I think the island has been kept up quite well. We did the audio tour and it was very informative and interesting. We also talked to one of the inmates that actually lived in Alcatraz when it was up and running. He shared his experience in Alcatraz and also that after his time in Alcatraz he had written a book, gotten married, purchased a home, had kids, etc. I felt a little uneasy about the whole thing but Sean, of course, had to purchase his book, talk to him and get a picture. Sean is the biggest history buff so I wasn’t surprised and was a bit amused. I didn't buy anything but Sean purchased a silver mug (plus the book) because he wanted to run the mug across the bars of the prison. I'm dead serious. Two other people on the tour saw him do it and burst out laughing. It was kinda hilarious.

Overall, it was a really informative tour and if you ever have a chance to tour Alcatraz I recommend that you do. For me, I sometimes can get in my own way of thinking. And I’m not always right as much as it pains me to say, lol. So if you are on the fence I recommend that you do it. And if you have done it, what did you think?

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This is what greeted the inmates when they stepped into the prison for the first time.


The cells.

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The inmate's recreational yard.


When we went through the door in the above picture this is what we saw.
The inmates were not allowed to see this view.


A picture of one of the correctional officers that was killed during one of the multiple riots at the prison.
And in the picture next to it you can see one of the heads that was made to confuse the guards to make an escape.

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The warden's office.


The dining hall and kitchen.


We were told (audio tour) to sit on the benches.
I could not bring myself to do it, ha. Yup, I'm so lame.


Sean having his moment.

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After the Alcatraz tour, we drove back to our hotel to drop off Sean’s souvenirs and then we decided to take the cable cars down to Union Square! It was so much fun that we did not just do it once during our trip. I just loved being able to experience it firsthand and it really was so neat. It was pretty hard to wipe the smile off my face while we were in San Francisco.



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By the time we got to Union Square we were hungry but our desire to explore was greater so we walked around a bit taking in all the sights and saying over and over how we couldn’t believe that we were actually here, experiencing this.

When our hunger became too great to ignore, Sean searched for a restaurant that had enough options on the menu that we both would be happy to choose from and that we could walk to. We ended up at Café de la Presse and because the weather was so beautiful that day, we ate outside! I ordered a glass of Pinot Noir and a burger that was so big that we ended up splitting it. Our meals were so delicious and I wished that we had time to go back again.

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It was getting later by this point so we took the trolley back to our hotel room to get ready for the night. But before heading into our room we popped into Bistro Boudin for a drink and were given complimentary sour dough bread which was delicious. I ordered a raspberry lemon drop and Sean ordered a Manhattan. We received such great service that we took a mental note to come back for dinner before we left San Francisco.


We first went to Tunnel Top for drinks and then asked the bartender if he had any recommendations for a Monday night. He immediately recommended Madrone for their Motown Mondays. I love Motown music so that was all I needed to hear. We took an Uber and when we arrived there was a long line of people waiting to get inside. We waited on line for quite some time but we decided that we’d stick it out because anything with a line that long had to be special, right? Well, we were absolutely right to have waited. It was a $3 entry and to be honest I would have paid $20! We had the most amazing time. The music was fantastic, the vibes were awesome, just such great energy at Madrone’s. I told Sean over and over that I wish we had a club in Pennsylvania just like this because I (no joke) listen to Motown every day. It is my choice of music for any and every chore I do around the house.

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After we had danced and sung our little hearts out, we ordered street tacos from the taco trunk right outside the bar. And YUM, give me all the street tacos. Wish I could remember the name of the taco truck ... This night was so much fun but I could not wait to go to bed because the following day we were going to be seeing the Painted Ladies! A dream come true :).