Welcome to my blog

This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Day 2 San Francisco

Today we had booked a trip to Alcatraz. The island is in the middle of San Francisco Bay and is now a national parkland with historic gardens and bird colonies, but its main attraction of course is the prison. The maximum security federal penitentiary open from 1934 - 63.
It takes just 30 mins to cross too the island by ferry. It was foggy this morning but I liked the misty views of the San Franciscan skyline.

We could soon see the prison with the lighthouse towering above the cell block.

Once we landed we were shown a video about the island and given an audio tour which was included in the price. Not a fan of audio tours but this was excellent and was partly narrated by inmates.

This was where the prisoners began life on Alcatraz. After showering the inmates collected their prison issue clothing. Once dressed in their 'Alcatraz blues' the convicts were marched to the cells on the floor above.

There are four free standing cell blocks. The complex was built by military prisoners in 1911 and could hold 390 prisoners. Alcatraz was never filled to capacity with the average number of inmates held here being 260.

This is the cell showing  the ventilation shaft below the sink which was enlarged to allow the prisoners to escape. The prisoners who escaped this way were never found.

During its time as a prison 36 prisoners tried to escape.  23 were recaptured, six were shot and killed, two drowned and five are listed as missing presumed drowned.

This was the warden's house. Before it was burnt down in 1970 it had 17 rooms and views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. Many other officers and their families also lived on the island with the children travelling daily by ferry to school in San Francisco.

Kitchen and mess roomn

Prisoners spent between 16 and 23 hours in their cells but some through good behaviour were able to use the exercise yard. It was completely enclosed with no views of the bay.

The laundry - Al Capone's place of work.

The gardens were built and maintained by the inmates. Eventually every area within sight of the guard towers was terraced and planted.

On returning to the mainland we walked to Chinatown to explore that area.

Grant Street is a very long street in the heart of Chinatown and is full of interesting architecture.

Interesting fruits

Sharing with Our World Tuesday

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Day 1 San Francisco

I have just returned home from a two week trip to Western USA My friend M from Canada met me in San Francisco where we would spend a few days together before I joined a Gadventure tour. The first thing I noticed about San Francisco is how expensive it is compared to other U.S. cities I have visited. I later learned that it is now the most expensive city in the USA. Today was all about getting our bearings and what better way to do that than to walk. I have to admit it was hard work getting to the top of Powell Street but I enjoyed the interesting architecture on the way.

Bay bridge in the distance

We went up Coit Tower which gives some of the best views of the city. The tower is dedicated to firemen but contrary to popular belief the tower was not built to represent a fire hose, which I think describes it very well.

We could just about see the Golden Gate in the distance. We were going to walk there but realised we needed to rethink that one.

But the best view was of the 'crooked street' with its 10 hairpin bends

The murals inside the tower's base were painted in 1934 to depict life in California during the Depression. When violence broke out during one of the strikes some of the controversial radical content in some of the panels was painted over and the tower was padlocked for several months.

Walked from the tower to Fisherman's wharf to watch the sea lions sunbathing and be overcome by the smell.

We decided to buy a $31, 3 day pass for the cable cars and buses seeing as one ride was $7. It turned out to be excellent value.

We had great fun riding up and down the hills on the trams.

The final stop for the day was the Golden Gate Bridge. The number one attraction on the tourist trail and not to be missed. As it was such a gorgeous day we decided to walk the 1.7 miles across the bridge. Stopping to admire the yachts sailing beneath the bridge and the seals playing in the water

Once across the bridge we thought we could get a bus back but no such luck so we had to walk back again!