Thursday, 6 December 2007

06 December, 22:41

Today shall be known as the wet day, so wet that I bought an umbrella, which as we all know goes against all my strangely held views. Unfortunately, this did not help my trench foot inducing skater shoes, which not only have major war wounds from vicious escalators, but also have significant splits in the soles. To confound matters even more, my throat is killing me, the left side of my jaw hurts when I chew and my big toe on my left foot feels like there is a nail through the joint.

Anyway, besides these normal tribulations of life, I left the hostel around 11:20 and wandered down to the wharf, where I went in the Aquarium, 3rd I've been to so far! Although it was quite small, they had 2 giant tanks below with tunnels through the middle of them, which was extremely cool. There were sharks, rays, starfish, and many many other fish. The whole experience was quite short though, but I decided to come back at 3pm for the feeding.

Further down Pier 31 I played in various souvenir shops, until I spotted an All You Can Eat Buffet sign on an Italian restaurant. Not learning from my previous pizza disaster, I ate far too much pizza, meatballs, garlic twists and salad. Washed down with an amstel light, 3 came around and I went back to see an awesome feeding time for the sharks and rays. I then went to the petting type area and I got to touch and stroke some rays, small tiger sharks and starfish. Incredible! Rays are very smooth and soft, while the sharks are more rough and more so in one direction than the other. Star fish were surprisingly hard and crusty, but were amazing colours.

It was now time to limp to Pier 33 where the rain increased it's vicious attack upon the ground. I was a tad early so waited in Peet's coffee house, where there was no room to sit. So I collected my ticket, promptly placed it so elegantly in a puddle, and joined the already growing queue. After a bit of a wait we were let onto the boat for the short trip across the swirling San Francisco bay waters.

As we were on the late night special super duper tour, we had a guide talk to use on the way across, explaining various points of interest including little Alcatraz. Once docked we all filed off the boat and started up the hill towards the theatre room. We past the last remaining guard tower as well as some Native American graffiti from their occupation of the island, post prison days. We had a short presentation explaining what was going on and answering some questions. We then made our way up the hill to the main prison barracks in the driving rain, with me squelching all the way.

Inside we received an audio tour that guides you around the cells and other areas of interest. It was actually voiced by past guards and prisoners, many not alive any more, and detailed the experiences and various escape attempts. Throughout the evening they kept saying that no one escaped alive, except 3 guys escaped and were never found, so in theory they could have survived and gone to South America. Cool!

Once the tour was over I saw 2 presentations on escapes and then a movie on the entire history of Alcatraz. All very interesting, some of the escape attempts were crazy elaborate and I have no idea how the guards didn't realise. Some built up to the actual escape day with months of preparation. Good stuff. Took the boat back across the bay through the driving rain, to the magnificent view of San Francisco at night. I limped back to the hostel and must have done something but I can't quite remember. I'm sure it must have been something of epic proportions, or maybe not.

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