Trip Start Apr 06, 2010
89Trip End Ongoing
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The cable cars run down to the bay area known as Fishermans Wharf, where we hired bikes for the afternoon for a nice leisurely ride over the Golden Gate Bridge. We were given a map at the hire depot and failed to realise quite how far this route was and quite how hard it would be to ride up hill and into the wind for 3 hours
The next morning we went back down to the wharf and went on a tour of Alcatraz, now part of the National Park system and preserved for tours and sightseeing. The prison was originally built as a fort to protect the bay in 1853, and used during the american civil and second world wars by the army to defend the city and detain POWs. It later became a military prison and holding centre, before being transferred to the united states correctional department in 1933 and converted into a federal prison. During the 29 years that it operated as a penitentiary, Alcatraz came to house some of the country's worst and most high profile prisoners, for example George "machine gun" Kelly, "Baby Face" Nelson and Al Capone. It was shut down and abandoned due to excessive running costs and severe deterioration from the weather in 1963. The tour around the prison is a self guided audio tour with accounts from the old guards and actual ex-inmates which makes the whole experience that much more real. It was a scary place and had signs on the walls with quotes like ' If you break the rules, you go to prison
Pier 39 at Fishermans Wharf is home to a huge sea lion colony; the bigger males were constantly chasing the smaller ones away from the females, rearing up and barking at them. The wharf is a great area with lots of street artists and performers everywhere; the best one we saw of the day was a group of 5 guys breakdancing, they were awesome. We took a really old street car back downtown that evening which must have been in service for nearly 100 years, and despite being packed in like sardines was a memorable journey back to the hotel.
The hotel was right across the street from a bar showing the 'soccer cup' and we managed to get in for the England vs USA match which was a result. Surprisingly the bar was full of USA fans (we didn't think anyone would be in there!) and we had to listen to their chants of "Rooney, you suck man" and they were probably right. We left town that afternoon and were heading back inland for one of the best known and busiest national parks in America, Yosemite.