After our quiet evening the night before, me and one of my roommates decided to get up fairly early and explore some more of San Francisco before we would meet the rest of the group for our planned activities for the day.
We got ready and headed down to the breakfast room in the basement of the hostel. It was already buzzing with activity, with people cooking up their own eggs and pancakes, it was a great atmosphere. We grabbed our free breakfast, fruit and a bagel and made our plans for the day ahead. We headed back to the room to grab our bags, leaving our other roommates to sleep and we made our way out of the hostel and onto the streets of...

San Francisco, California:
Yesterday on our ventures out of the hostel we always turned right and headed to Union Square so today we turned left.
Our walk started out fine and there was some incredible street art along the way but after not long of walking we started to notice quite a few homeless people roaming the streets.

We kept walking but came across more dishevelled homeless people and saw some drug taking on the street in front of us. It was really sad to see the other side of San Francisco, its not all bright lights and picture postcard views.
We were a bit spooked and uneasy, so hot footed it away from the area to...

As we made our way back to the Union Square area we saw some more incredible street art, so many of the images were huge as well, taking up whole sides of buildings. This was one of my favourite things about the city, being an artist and seeing spontaneous art everywhere was amazing!
We headed into the shopping mall at the end of the Union Square area and spent just over an hour looking round the shops and buying a few little pieces. Inspired by the art we both bought ourselves a small piece of art!
We didn't have too much time left after this before we needed to meet up with the group so we walked back to the hostel. We saw some of the others who had just been out for breakfast so headed back to our room, put our shopping away and reorganised our bags to head out for the rest of the day. We went to wait in the lobby for everyone and while a few people showed up on time, due to the big night out the night before there were a lot of the group who were late. We wouldn't have minded if it were 10-15 minutes late but we're talking 30-45 minutes after we said we'd meet! This was a definite downside to group travel, we'd got up early to fit in what we wanted to do and meet in time but as some others had disregarded it it felt pretty frustrating as we could have seen other areas of the city, and didn't make for a good start to the rest of the day.
They came through the lobby as they had gone out for breakfast late and still had to head to their rooms and get ready.
The reason we all had to meet at a certain time was because we were going to Alcatraz, which was included in the trip and we had a specific departure time for the ferry and if you missed it you wouldn't be able to go.

After we were all gathered we walked back into Union Square to wait for a cable car to head to the piers. As it was a Saturday and the sun was shining and we were running late there was a huge queue. After waiting for a while we decided we had to get taxis to make it in time for our Alcatraz departure so we all headed off and jumped in lots of different taxis.

We made it in time and started queuing on the jetty for our ferry. We got an incredible view of the city across the water as we got nearer Alcatraz and we pulled up feeling pretty happy to actually be here.

We all wandered off in different directions, me trek buddy and I went into an area where you could view some videos about past Alcatraz inhabitants and then we wandered round a few areas of the island.

Even though it was full of tourists and very busy there was an eerie calm about the place, incredible and haunting all at the same time. The views of the city were incredible and made you realise that all the prisoners would have been watching regular life passing them by daily.

Then we wandered round to where you can take the audio tour, saw where the prisoners had to shower in a really open large room at a trough like area and followed the tour to the cells.
These felt pretty spooky to me and I only went into one whilst taking in the surroundings. There was a tiny window in the cell block where you could see the city in the distance again, really driving it home to the prisoners that they were not part of life and completely separated.

We carried on looking through the offices and outside into the yard where they would have had a chance to be outside. This was definitely such a harsh environment for anyone.
We spent longer taking it all in and then headed back to the queue for the boats back to San Fran.

Another point when you realised how isolating it would have been if you couldn't just leave like us.
This visit had been my favourite part of San Fran so far.

PIER 39:
After the boat back we all wandered towards Pier 39 and got a glimpse of all the sea lions here. The sounds were amazing, they were so loud and I really felt like i was seeing what San Fran life was like.

Most of the group headed to Bubba Gump's for dinner but the queue was huge and me and another went to another Italian restaurant to get some food. It was kinda nice spending time in the city in a smaller group as being in a large group navigating a city made everything take a long time!

Then we wandered round taking in more sights and sounds of the piers before the sun started setting.
We slowly made our way back tot the cable car stop and there wasn't much of a queue so this time we made it on one. We rode the hilly streets as the sun was setting and seeing the city turn from day to night on the cable car was pretty special. We got some incredible views on the way and it made you realise how steep the streets are here.

This had changed my mind a little from the day before, finding more things I loved about San Francisco but I think I prefer to explore cities not in a big group, and this was when I realised it was the National Parks that had been the favourite parts of my trip and that I already wanted to plan another trip to visit them again for longer. I wish I had had a little more time to explore different areas of San Fran, the timing of our Alcatraz visit in the middle of the day had meant we couldn't venture too far in the morning or evening so I would like to come back to see other areas.

We hopped off at Union Square again and made our way back to the hostel. We saw some of the others who were headed down to the common room to play cards and have drinks. After a long day we chilled in our room, got our suitcases organised and got prepared for the last few days of our trip...

ITINERARY (LISTED):                           Free Day In SanFrancisco - Alcatraz
ACCOMMODATION:                            USA Hostels - San Francisco, California

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