It’s like perving over lots of someone’s photos on Facebook and then suddenly being with them in person. You’ve never met them before, but they don’t seem like a stranger.
That’s not to say San Francisco is dull, far from it. The up-and-down streets, trams, and stunning architecture will thrill you as you walk around.
The top image, for example, shows the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square, a famous landmark of several beautiful Victorian houses. I wondered if the people living there ever got sick of tourists gawping at their homes.
Here’s a shot across the city, one of many that you’ll see as you climb one of the peaks that ripple through San Fran.
This is Lombard Street, one of the twistiest in the world, if not the most. I recall seeing photos of it in a Guinness Book of Records when I was a boy – I used to love reading them – and was thrilled to suddenly spot it when Kate and I were walking around one day.
I’m actually pleased with how I took this shot, because I used my iPhone from a distance, while walking along and trying to appear as though I was generally using it and not taking a photo. Came out well after all that. Be thankful I didn’t use my zoom lens.
But it’s such a grim looking place physically that with a dash of imagination, seeking out a quiet corner and with the help of the excellent audio guide, the pain and hopelessness of life on Alcatraz seeps into you.
I was quite taken by the prison yard, because it was one place where you could be sure everyone ever imprisoned here would have been at some point. Also, the fact that there was a small baseball field at the far end amused me. What happened if the ball got hit over the wall?
One thing I was amazed by was how visible San Francisco is from the inside of the prison. This is a viewing hatch in one corner of the main cell block, and apparently on New Year’s Eve, prisoners could hear the sounds of revelry floating across from the city.
Torturous, but they were hardened criminals after all.
This is one of the cells that featured in a famous escape attempt by prisoners Clarence Anglin, John Anglin and Frank Morris. Their story was featured in the Clint Eastwood movie Escape from Alcatraz.
It’s a good film and I remember seeing it years ago, so to stand where it all happened was quite incredible.
So after getting out early thanks to our good behaviour, Kate and I needed a change from all that prison food – and happily found an In ‘n’ Out burger joint, featuring some of the finest burgers ever to be fashioned from a cow.
While we didn’t manage to visit the Golden Gate Bridge, we got a good look at it on the journey to and from Alcatraz.
Here I am with Kate and Crystal and to my left is Mara Marini, an actress who I photographed when I was last in town. She plays Brandi Maxxxx in the Parks and Recreation TV show.
Over the other side is the Arlington West Memorial, a tribute to fallen US soldiers. It has lots of facts and figures posted up about American military deaths and asks people to debate the issues surrounding the deployment of soldiers in foreign conflicts.