We were kindly invited to visit as to share our experience as a part of our week in San Francisco that we will keep writing about.
I have to say, after the tour, I kept thinking it must have been hard and mindtricking to be there held in a cell.
A wonderful view, the Golden Gate bride on sight, the city of San Francisco so close you could see it, and sometimes, if the wind blew in the right direction, you could even hear the parties in Sanfran all the way to the island´s immates´ears. One tough stay.
The tour starts at Pier 33 where you can see some pictures, and start reading about Alcatraz.
When you board the boat, you´ll be around 15 to 20 minutes of sailing before you get to the island, and that´s a good photo opportunity to get the whole island.
Then you arrive. Plan on going with comfortable footwear, since you will be walking a lot, and upwards, so no high heels, no flipflops and no suit shoes. Sneakers are the best choice and you´ll thank me later.
Once you get to the Island, the tour guide will start telling you some things about the history of Alcatraz, and will go from the deck area to the main prison. That´s like a ten stories up trip you´ll walk, so the tour does several in between stops as to keep telling you the story, but also, as a great excuse to catch your breath.
You are now outside the main building. Take your time to enjoy the view, take some photos, then go in and get in line to get your self guided audio tour. I am not sure how many languages were the audio tours in, but I counted at least six. The audio tour is probably what makes this tour go from interesting to beyond. It is excellently produced, with the additions of some sound effects to put you in a different state and feel as if you were in the times of the prison. The tour guides on the audio tour are former prison guards and former prisoners, all of them, telling their stories.
You will visit all four corridors and blocks, you´ll check out Broadway, you will get the chance to enter a cell, and, if you are brave enough, even go to the Cell Block D, solitary confinement, and close the door behind you. Creepy stuff!
The self guided audio tour will take you perhaps an hour and some. And then, depending on the tour time you chose, there may be different options for you to check. We took the night tour, so we could get to see the cell doors to open and close, we got to visit the hospital and infirmary, but we didn´t get to check the store.
You will go back to land in the cruise, and you will have experienced an eye opening tour, specially if you try and imagine what would you have done in that situation.
What did I do after coming back? I rented Escape from Alcatraz with Clint Eastwood, after asking the tour guide about how accurate it was. Fairly accurate was the answer. Plenty of fiction, but fairly accurate.
I will strongly recommend you to this tour if you ever go to San Francisco. It´s well worth it.
If you have done it, leave your comments below. (If you haven´t and want to comment, please do, too!)