January 20, 2015
I woke up early to get ready for my day trip to San Francisco. Having family in the bay area really is an amazing gift (saving $ big time).
I knew my way into the city would be tricky so I had to plan accordingly. I woke up early, got ready, made myself a cup of coffee and planned an Uber to pick me up at my Aunts home. The nice French Uber driver dropped me off at the train station in downtown redwood city. I bought my tickets for the days adventure and while I was waiting I got a coffee at a local café (I drink way too much coffee…)
I took the 9:54am Cal train into Millbrae to transfer over onto the Bart subway system. The train ride to Millbrae was very nice, however the train was pretty slow and I was worried I wasn’t going to make it onto the Bart. If there was one thing I learned from traveling oversees is that you NEVER give up, there is always a way.
I ended up making it…just barely.
An hour and a half later I made it to Embaredeo! My goal: Pier 33. Sped walk from the train station to Pier 33 where large groups of people were in line for the boat to Alcatraz. I joined the group of tourists and we all made our way to the island.
Alcatraz really is an amazing place, completely surreal. From 1934 to 1963 Alcatraz’s federal prison hosted some of the most dangerous felons in America- including Robert “Birdman” Stroud and Al “Scarface” Capone.
An audio tour was provided for tourists, so I had my own one on one tour around the prison. The history of how the men lived and were treated still is hard to believe. The inmate’s cells were so small it was almost like looking into a cage. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the mental and physical courage and strength to survive at Alcatraz. No wonder men tried to escape.
At the end of the audio tour there was a meet and great with one of the last surviving prisoners from Alcatraz. His name was William Baker. He was sent to Alcatraz in his early twenties for stealing cars. I asked him how long he was in prison for; “In Alcatraz? Little over two years… In my life? Got our a few years back. Now have a wife and dogs in Ohio. It’s comfortable.”
He’s now in his early 80’s…
After I got back onto land, I took the Bart north and got off at the Civic center. Okay…for all you ladies who travel solo and decide to visit San Francisco…DO YOUR RESEARCH AND LISTEN TO YOUR WOMANLY INSTINCTS. I clearly did not and should have never gotten off at that stop. Flashing red lights were going off in my head right when I stepped out of the train. It is the home base for homeless men and women. I am sure there were places around that civic center that were completely safe, I however had no idea and therefore felt stuck. Whistles and comments were flying around and I tuned out everything as I spotted a small restaurant that looked open.
Immediately I called for an Uber car. He looked back and me and said, “What in the world are you doing in this park of the city??”
Never had I been so thankful for an Uber!! I got into the car as fast as I could and ask the nice man to take me to the Golden Gate Park. The whole park was pristine. It seemed that every tree, bush and flower was placed and pruned to perfection.
I made my way around the park and ended up in the Japanese Tea garden. I could have spent the whole afternoon there. It was so quiet and simply elegant. To breath, walk and observe was just what I needed. The tea garden was nothing but magical.
While I was leaving the garden my phone died. Running out of juice when you’re alone is boarder-line frightening. I felt very vulnerable without a way of communicating via my phone. I couldn’t just look up directions or call someone for help. I ended up reverting back to my brownie days by way of using the sun as a compass for directions. That makes me sound completely “into the wild” but honestly it was a park, and I knew whatever direction I kept walking in would lead me out eventually. The sun is a guide that I forget about, but that afternoon it was a pretty handy tool.
I found a Starbucks a few blocks out of the park and recharged my phone. My third and final Uber got me to a safe Bart stop and I made my way back to Redwood City. It was 8:00pm when my Aunt Gail met me at the Cal train station.
We both were exhausted, she being at work all day.
And me…well you know…