Tuesday, January 26

West Coast USA, Day Fourteen: Escape From Alcatraz

Quite refreshingly we only had one thing to do this morning before my flight, and that was to visit Alcatraz.

Even though it was "just a prison", the whole visit was well worth taking. In particular the audio guide (included in the ticket price) was very welcome as it took us on a pretty comprehensive journey through all parts of the prison complex. For a completionist like myself it made the whole thing much more accessible and enjoyable, not least because it provided a colour I wouldn't have seen otherwise.

With the clock against us, we left the island. There was a few things that we didn't explore to the full, including the gardens and a few exhibitions, but the few hours we did spend there felt like it was enough.

Still running on borrowed time, me and a new friend whom I had met on the island grabbed 30 mins or so at the near by Pier 39 complex. This housed a few attractions and restaurants, and again would have been nice to have explored fully had I more time but alas my time really was up. Stopping off only for some Bubba Gump Shrimp, I bid my farewell to my friend, the pier, San Francisco and pretty much the whole state of California and I rushed to the airport to check in for my flight.

According to this journal, I've only spent 14 days here across Vegas and California. It feels like much more - the wedding we originally came for seems like months ago. Our tour of the west coast turned out to be amongst the busiest that I've taken part in and I have to say that I was surprised by much of it - partly because of what I saw and did but mainly because it was so different to what I had been expecting - or rather conditioned to expect. I know we always complain about the media misrepresenting certain sides of certain communities, but the one thing we sometimes miss is that they have this effect on everyone - what I've reaffirmed at least is that it's always worth seeing things for yourself, an undiluted view that might make you rethink the things that you've been told.

But for now I'm on my way home, tired from a trip that filled me up well. I like to think that I'll be visiting the States again, and this time sooner than the 16 years or so it's taken me to this time.

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