2010-07-19

Video tour of Alcatraz

While Chuck, Jean, and Dani were visiting we went on the tour of Alcatraz, which is one of a few touristy things we've wanted to do while here in the SF Bay Area. Usually we are sailing by Alcatraz, watching the swarm of people being herded on and off the ferries - today we got to be part of the herd.

Alcatraz is pretty amazing, but wow it's cold, windy, and dismal. The seagulls sure seem to like the place. We all enjoyed the history - as a fort, then military prison, and finally the federal prison. Seeing the cells where prisoners escaped, scars on the floor from grenades dropped in during a riot, a homemade bar spreader, and so on, was really interesting.

A couple of tips if you ever plan to visit:

Get tickets for as early in the morning as possible. There's a LOT of people that tour Alcatraz each day - the earlier you get there, the less people there will be.

When they are handing out headsets for the audio tour, ask for the written transcript instead. We discovered this by accident. They have a bunch of different languages available and when they asked us what language we wanted, we asked what they do for sign language. Well, they give you a written transcript of the audio tour. This is the way to go! You can proceed at your own pace, and it's much easier as a group because we could talk about things without interrupting the program. Finally, we could take the transcript home and read through it all again later.

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