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Saturday 3 May 2014

Flashback Fridays: Alcatraz

Today's Flashback Friday isn't going back all that far, or very far away. In fact, we can see it from our apartment building. Today we're going back to our 2012 visit to Alcatraz.

In May 2012 my parents came to visit us for a week. We got out and about and did all of the regular touristy things one does when visiting San Francisco: we rode atop a "hop-on-hop-off" bus trip through the city, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, spent a day at California Academy of Sciences and Golden Gate Park, ate far too much Ghirardelli chocolate, walked up and down far too many steep hills (to burn off all that chocolate!), visited the sealions at Pier 39, took in the views from Crissy Field and spent half a day visiting Alcatraz.

For some unknown reason I've never actually posted about any of this on Little Hiccups. I guess I was just too busy playing tourist and tour guide! Let's fix that by having a look back at our visit to Alcatraz...

A visit to Alcatraz had been at the top of our to do list when we first moved to the Bay Area. However, we knew that my parents would be coming to visit seven months down the track and that it was at the top of their list as well. So we decided to save Alcatraz for when my parents were in town.

During those seven months Ava would ask repeatedly when we could go to Alcatraz. She was so excited about the idea of visiting the island that we could see from our apartment building and just couldn't wait to go. However, as the day approached she started to get a little scared. She knew that Alcatraz had been a prison and she worried that there were still "bad guys" hiding out there. She also started to worry about the boat ride out to Alcatraz. When the big day finally arrived Ava had worked herself up so much about the boat ride that she could not be tempted to leave the apartment unless we promised to take her life jacket with us. I must have looked like the "bad Mummy" on board the boat: providing my five year old, competent swimmer with a life jacket, but leaving my eighteen month old toddler without! In fact, Ava was the only person aboard the boat wearing a life jacket and she continued to wear it after we arrived on Alcatraz - which I'm sure was at absolutely no risk of sinking!

We started our self guided tour of Alcatraz with a look around the outside of the buildings on the Eastern side of the island. The views over the Bay were beautiful. Ava collected a Junior Ranger activity book to complete as we made our way through the tour. This would prove to be a great distraction for Ava to help her get over her fear of going into an old prison. Within no time she was so engrossed with trying to complete the questions in the book that she had completely forgotten about her worries. Plus she knew that her reward for completing the activity book would be a Junior Ranger badge which she was pretty keen to get her hands on.

Inside the main prison building we collected audio tours and made our way around the corridors, in and out of cells, through kitchens, offices, visiting rooms and communal areas and out into the incredibly cold and windy exercise yard. Ava and Lola both insisted on having their own audio tour as well. Ava made sure to stick to viewing everything exactly as described on the audio tour. Lola tried to use hers as a telephone!

Back outside we found ourselves on the southern side of the island facing the city. The sky may have been blue over the East Bay and Marin, but the city was shrouded in that famous San Francisco fog. It was also incredibly windy on this side of the island as you can probably tell from Ava and Lola's hair in the shot below!

Of course, the amazing view over the city wasn't the only thing to look at outside. There were yet more semi ruined buildings (I love a good ruin!), watchtowers, gardens and birds.

Before we left Alcatraz Ava made sure to find a park ranger and hand in her Junior Ranger activity book for checking. We couldn't leave without that shiny Junior Ranger badge now, could we?

After half a day spent wandering around this amazing island full of history and legend we hopped back aboard the boat and made our way back to San Francisco.

And Ava didn't ask once to wear her life jacket!

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