Today we made our way back in to San Francisco but this time inadvertently catching a number 60 bus service instead of the 70 or 80 which should have been on. It was going near Pier 33 which is where we needed to get to, so that was a bit of luck.
We arrived in good time for our 11:00 ferry trip to Alcatraz Island, home to the former well known prison. www.alcatrazcruises.com This was a very interesting trip indeed and well worth the $26 ticket price. The ‘Audio Tour’ is included in the price and we found it interesting and informative to have former prisoners and guards as our audio guides around the complex. Prisoners who were incarcerated there had a pretty grim existence, though the food had the reputation of being among the best in the prison system. We were over there nearly 3 hours, which we felt was about long enough.
After a quick snack back on the mainland we made our way to the cable cars, as we were keen to do the tourist thing of riding on the side of one. After a wait of about 20 minutes we managed to secure two spaces on the side of ours. It was a great feeling to be participating in something we’d seen on TV many times. It was made all the more challenging because I had only one hand with which to hold on with as the other was holding and pointing the video camera.
At the end of that particular route I asked if we could stay on and pay for the return trip. I was told pleasantly that it was a nice try but we would have to get off and join another queue to get a cable car back. Before doing so we took a look around the local shops there including Bloomingdale’s. On the trip back we wanted to ride on the back platform, and again we were lucky enough to be right near the front of the queue for our tram, and managed to grab the platform. This area is limited to two people as the conductor/brakeman has to work there. This position gave us a really good view of everything as we passed it, and the views back down the hills we had just climbed were great.
At the end of our ride we treated ourselves to a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and afterwards agreed that they were very sickly and so won’t be buying any more. Then came the time we had not been looking forward to – the return trip home by bus.
After a few false starts at several bus stops asking very unhelpful bus drivers as they pulled up if they went to the Golden Gate Plaza we finally hit on one helpful driver who gave us a free lift there where, he told us, we could catch a service 14 taking us to Lucky Drive which is near the campground. He even provided us with the missing link – a bus timetable and map, now we could understand which bus went where and at what time.
I wanted to give him a tip as he hadn’t charged us for that leg of the journey, and had really helped us out of a hole, but he wasn’t allowed to handle money, even the fares must be tendered exactly and fed in to a machine. The Chef and I both commented how the people we wanted to tip for being helpful, couldn’t or wouldn’t take it, whilst there were others who expected one no matter how little they did or how undeserving they were.
We decided while waiting for the next bus at Golden Gate Plaza that we really didn’t need the hassle of getting in and out of the city by bus. We agreed that the San Francisco public transport system is probably a very good one indeed – provided you understand how it worked, and we didn’t. We decided that tomorrow we would get some chores done, including a load of washing which had built up, plus, I was keen to wash the RV as she now had over 2000 miles of dirt on her. We would also book out of the campground a day early, putting us 4 days ahead of schedule, time we could spend elsewhere. We’d done all we wanted to do in the city, and were ready to move on.