It was day 4 and I woke with a start to my husband’s announcement that we’d just passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. And I’d missed it!
No matter. The best was yet to come as we headed toward the Bay Bridge, backlit by sunrise.
We sailed silently into San Francisco Bay careful not to wake the sleeping city,
and when we docked at the Port of San Francisco this was our view.
Out in the bay – the Rock.
On a nearby hill, Coit Tower.
And in the distance, the Golden Gate Bridge.
There was no need to rush. We arrived at 7:00 a.m. and wouldn’t sail again until 10:00 p.m., our longest day in port. So after a leisurely breakfast we disembarked and headed over to Alcatraz Landing.
Why the fascination with the island prison? For those of us from a certain generation, I suppose it started with ‘The Birdman of Alcatraz’. At least it did for me. Never mind that Robert Stroud conducted his studies earlier at Leavenworth and wasn’t allowed to have birds at Alcatraz. ( I guess “Bird Doctor of Leavenworth” didn’t make for a good Hollywood title.) With later generations, it would be movies about the attempted escapes. Regardless, it’s a popular attraction and I was happy I’d booked our 10:30 tour well in advance.
It was clear and sunny as we sailed to the island, past views of the city where the Star Princess was part of the skyline.
Alcatraz was straight ahead and it wasn’t long before we arrived at the dock.
For thousands of years, Alcatraz was just a lonely island. In 1859 a fort was built as part of a defense system for San Francisco Bay. Used as a military prison from 1859 – 1933, it later became a maximum security federal penitentiary. From 1934 to 1963 it housed some of the most high risk and notorious prisoners of the era including Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.
We headed up for a self-guided tour of the former prison and found the accommodations rather grim.
When we had our fill of prison life, we made the return trip back to the waterfront. After lunch we split up and I headed to Pier 39 to visit the Sea Lions who moved into the area after the 1989 earthquake and decided to stay.
But mainly I walked, walked and walked some more along the Embarcadero accruing more steps on my Fitbit than any other day on the cruise.
We returned to the ship for dinner and went up top to watch the sunset.
The next morning we would arrive in Monterey, our southernmost port of call, and enjoy an excursion to Carmel this time by Tour Bus.
Stay tuned for that!
I love your Golden Gate Bridge photos! I’ve been to Alcatraz a couple of times and found it quite interesting. Looking forward to seeing your post about Monterey and Carmel!
Thank you so much! One of my favorite things about cruising has been the daily sunrises and sunsets! Both were wonderful in San Francisco! 🙂
Lovely shots, Susanne. I am not even American, but Alcatraz is so iconic to my generation, I would definitely have taken that same tour.
Best wishes, Pete.
Thanks Pete. We’d done the tour before but many years earlier. Once I realized that the Alcatraz Landing was nearby it became the perfect excursion – a nice boat ride and very interesting visit to the Rock, full of history!
A terrific city and you got a great taste of it in a single day – nice job!
Thanks so much John! It was fun to wake up in San Francisco and fit in as much as we could in one day. We’ve been there a few times before but there’s so much to see we need to go back for more! 🙂
There are GREAT parts indeed – they have a homeless issue right in the heart of the city which makes it less pleasant in places but they are trying to find a solution that works for all involved!
Yes, I remember that. Seattle has a similar problem and unfortunately there seem to be no quick fixes.
I have heard a great deal about San Francisco becoming depressing with dirt and addicts. I am glad you were able to have such a good time.
I’m aware of the problem; I think the worst areas are downtown and we avoid them. We’ve visited many times before and always enjoy it. The waterfront in particular is very tourist friendly.
I am glad to know that.
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