Alcatraz Island  » Travel  »
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Pier 33, San Francisco, California, USA
  • It is one of the most interesting tours I have even been on in any country
  • First, you can look out the barred windows and see San Francisco clearly, and it seems so close-but the water separating it is so rough, and I thought of the prisoners who must have been tortured by being able to see the city but couldn’t get there

    • by Jessie Bahrey
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      Any trip to San Francisco should include a tour of Alcatraz Island, even if you are not a history buff. It is one of the most interesting tours I have even been on in any country. Not only is it full of historical events, it also was a lighthouse, a fort, an army barracks, a prison and the site of a year and a half-long armed occupation of a First Nations tribe. I was very excited to see this infamous island off the coast of a major city. We ended up going down to the wharf area to see how much the tours were and when they ran and to get as much information as we could. Once we got there, a friendly local told us to go to Pier 33 to sign up for a tour- we were told that while there isn’t an entrance fee on the

      island, the ferries that provide the only access to the island are run by a private company on contract to the National Park Service.

      Finding Pier 33 was easy and we just looked for a lineup by a small ticket counter and kiosk advertising tours of Alcatraz. There were 4 types of tours available, all differing by time and what is included. We picked the audio tour, which took about 2.5 hours total, for $26 per person, which is to me very reasonable. We went for coffee and then came back to board the ferry, along with many others. The ride on the ferry was very interesting-the water is choppy, and the views of the city and Alcatraz are beautiful-for me, it was very easy to understand why no one ever was able to swim this short distance, because the water is so rough (apparently, there are sharks too). We ...


      • docked and filed off the ferry, and we were able to do the tour at our own pace, as we were handed the audio headsets, and were told to meet back at the ferry at 1pm. That suited us fine and we took a good look around.

        The island itself is rocky, and the remains of the buildings are imposing. Some areas are just piles of rubble, while others are mainly intact. The main building that housed the penitentiary is very much intact and it left me with a very eerie feeling. First, you can look out the barred windows and see San Francisco clearly, and it seems so close-but the water separating it is so rough, and I thought of the prisoners who must have been tortured by being able to see the city but couldn’t get there. I also felt a bit of a chill seeing the

        bullet holes in the walls in the area that used to house the prisoners’ cafeteria. As we wandered through the various areas and listened to the audio, we also saw the cells that housed the famous prisoners, like the ‘Birdman’, saw the cells of the men who tried to swim to escape and were never heard from again, and saw places outside the main building where various movies were filmed. We also saw the old army barracks and the area that the Natives lit on fire during their occupation of the island.

        The audio tour is makes it easy to see all the various places of interest on the island and it also allows you the time to look at your own pace, because you can stop and start the audio tape any time. Alcatraz Island is fascinating, and history buffs and just people curious about such an infamous place will greatly enjoy this.




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    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in July, 2009. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 382807779400431/k2311a0728/7.28.09
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