Crazily enough, yesterday we woke up and actually had a schedule to follow! That hasn’t exactly been our style this trip, actually having plans, but it served on this occasion. You see, we had a boat to catch…a boat to Alcatraz! We got up, got ready and made our way to the water. Due to the fact that we were starting at our hostel early in the morning we had to take part in the inferior act of walking rather than ride about in one of our favorite pedicabs. Most unfortunate. We stopped at Starbucks for a delicious hot beverage and an even more delicious baked good. Now I expect that you are considering the assortment of pastries Starbucks has to offer and wondering how I could consider them “more delicious”? I mean there are some that are good, others passable, and a few (like oat bars) that you might call delicious. But MORE delicious? Well here in San Francisco Starbucks has teamed up with the local bakery La Boulange to offer a more delicious option. KG had a donut that she raved about and I had a summer berry croissant that could not have been better. Seriously, soooo good! As we kept walking we saw the bakery itself:
We had both dressed for a day on the water, aka pants & sweaters, so it was nice when we reached it…we were both a little sweaty from all the hills. After a short wait we were able to board the boat. I’m not sure anyone else put as much intense planning into where they were going to sit…which is probably why we got the best seat. We were at our very own table at the back of the boat. I would normally have chosen the front with the wind in our hair, but we were pulling away from the city and the back offered the best views of the skyline. We ooo’ed and ahh’ed at the scenic shots of the Bay Bridge, San Francisco itself, the Golden Gate Bridge and a drive-by look at Alcatraz. We also spotted porpoises! I got really excited when I noticed a dorsal fin poke out the water….then another…and another. They are just so gosh-darn cute!
If you were reading carefully you might be wondering why we only got a “drive by of Alcatraz” when earlier I said we went there… We did, but first we stopped at Angel Island. This was a very picturesque place. Very naturific. I’m glad we visited, but I’m not sure I’d rush back. To be honest we only went because we left buying Alcatraz tickets too late and the only ones we could get came in this package deal.
The California State Park Service offers a tram tour around the island to show off the historic sites. We hopped on with the rest of our fellow sailors (yes, 15 minutes on a boat and I think I’m a sailor) and prepared to learn. Angel Island has a varied past, but its two main uses were as Fort McDowell and the Immigration Station.
The army built the fort in the late 19th century. It technically included the entire island although most of the buildings were concentrated in one location. The wooden buildings are actually some of the oldest purely wood buildings still standing in the USA. During its time as an army base most of the natural trees was cleared for use in building, etc and replaced with exotic vegetation. The Park Service is attempting to restore the native habitat but some of the eucalyptus trees still remain. You can recognize them by their stripping bark and long, pointed leaves.
The Immigration Station was the first stop in the Us for many Asian immigrants. In fact between 1910 & 1940 approximately 1 million people passed through the station. Due to the high volume of Chinese entering the nation in the late 19th century the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. This kept many people on the island waiting to be processed and released into America for many years. There are poems carved into the wooden walls in various languages by these stranded but hopeful newcomers.
A cool thing for outdoorsy folk to do is camp on the island. There are 11 camp sites on the island, the largest being a group site only accessible by kayak. That sounds like a really cool place to visit! But you need to be careful! A negligent group in 2008 let their bonfire get out of hand and set half the island on fire…literally half the island…check out the picture:
If you want more details on the island you can visit the island’s website (did everyone else picture an island trying to log on to a computer?) or the more reliable source of Wikipedia.
There was one stop on the tour that offered a panoramic view of all the best San Fran sites. We whipped out our cameras and struck a pose!
Fun Angel Island Fact: The island has its own sub-species of mole that can’t be found anywhere else in the entire world! We kept our eyes peeled but didn’t glimpse any.
After our tour we had some free time where we could hike or bike or Segway about the island. Being the new-found fans of sitting that we are we took a lunch break in the Cove Cafe. We split a tuna and a BBQ pork sandwich, having half of each, with some salad. They were both exceptionally tasty. I enjoyed every bite while using our break time to blog in the shade.
Next we hopped back on the boat and headed to Alcatraz. Surprisingly KG was less nervous about being locked in this prison forever than she was about being trapped in the prison-like Oakland Coliseum the other night. You can read all the details about our visit to possibly the most famous prison in the world on KG’s blog: ——————-.
When we had got our feet back on solid ground we fell right back into our routine of walking. We paced the waterfront and visited a up-and-coming chocolate shop called TCHO. They offer tours of their factory, but by the time we found out about them they were all booked up. I guess that’s another one for the list for next visit!
With our pockets loaded down with chocolaty treats we started towards home (aka the hostel). On our way we passed a bike race. It was crazy when they would all flash by. The noise was like a swarm of buzzing bugs flocking around you.
The plan was to find a coffee shop on the way. We could have a drink, relax a bit and do some blogging. Both KG and I love sitting around in coffee shops. We wish we could do it more in our everyday lives…there is just not enough time in the day! I’m not looking forward to having to squeeze blogging time into my busy schedule when we get back; I like being able to do it entirely at my leisure. As usual the San Francisco coffee gods were against us. After the 9th coffee shop we past that was either closed, closing in the next half hour or absolutely packed we resigned ourselves to just returning to the hostel to relax. We did stop at the 10th shop (a Starbucks that scarcely had a foot of floor space of stand in) to pick up a drink and another more delicious La Boulange baked good.
While parked at our regular table in the basement common area of the hostel we made some friends…real hostel friends…and fun ones too! After the devastation of our roommates rejecting us it was reassuring to see that someone liked us. Ivan & Kevin, brothers from Melbourne, told us that they would have dropped everything to meet us if they’d received our Welcome New Roommates note. And Isabelle &Marisa from Switzerland were a blast to hang out with. The six of us sat around and drank wine & tequila then headed out to a club that was playing entirely Motown music. And odd combo of things to do but so much fun!!! KG reflected on making new friends in her post We Made Hostel Friends!
To top off our evening and end our trip on a rebellious note we climbed to the roof. We’re not sure it was allowed but there was nothing posted saying we couldn’t. Plus there were stairs not only right outside the window but also up to the window! Ivan & Kevin were to ones who told us we could get up there and I was glad we listened to their advice to try it. I felt lie, a rebel and the night time view of the city lights was breathtaking. I was exceptionally proud of KG for following…she’s so rule abiding that this was a big move for her 😉
And that’s the end of our last day in San Francisco…tear :(…Back to reality…but I will be out on another trip as soon as I can swing it!
Love & Luck,