California Part 6: San Francisco! Cable Cars, Alcatraz & Biking the Golden Gate Bridge

Our next day in San Francisco began with a brief walk to the cable car turnaround. We had tried to ride a cable car the morning before but the line gets long fast if you don’t arrive as soon as the cars begin running.

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We arrived early and waited 10 or 15 minutes before jumping on a car. It’s worth hopping on at one of the turnarounds as you can see the attendants manually turn the cars around using a revolving platform and a big stick. I assume this is the original “technology” from the Cable Cars earliest days.

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We rode the cable car to the end of the line, back to Fisherman’s Wharf and decided to grab some clam chowder for an early lunch before our tour of Alcatraz.

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I had read good reviews about the Boudin Bakery and their fresh sourdough bread bowls. Besides clam chowder, they serve a variety of sandwiches and baked goods, including bread baked into a variety of adorable animals.

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After lunch we walked down to the dock and caught the ferry to Alcatraz. The tours are popular and sell out quickly so if you want to go, make sure you book in advance! Robert was most looking forward to this part of our trip and his excitement was palpable as we approached the island.

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As we disembarked, a tour guide greeted the new arrivals and explained how they operated. Once you arrive on Alcatraz, tours are self guided and you could see as much or as little as you liked, staying as long as you wanted as long as you caught the final ferry home.

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We started with a short movie on the history of the island. I didn’t know much about Alcatraz so this was a nice way to get our bearings and learn a little about the prison. For example, the guards and their families all lived on the island, and the children took the ferry to and from school each day. I can’t imagine growing up on an island where your neighbors are some of the country’s most dangerous criminals!

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After the video we toured a few exhibits and then entered the cell blocks where we began a self guided audio tour.

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The tour was so interesting and covered every aspect of prison life, including narration from former inmates and details about escape attempts and the most famous prisoners like Al Capone. Only two men ever “escaped” from Alcatraz and it is likely they drowned in the attempt as the currents around the island are extremely rough, or perhaps they made it to Mexico a la Shawshank Redemption and turned their lives around? We’ll never know!

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After we returned to the mainland, we walked towards Haight Ashbury, stopping along the way to see the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square. Or as former TGIF fans recall, the houses from the opening credits of Full House!

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We stopped for a pre-dinner crepe and some hot chocolate once we made it to Haight Ashbury, the home of “hippie subculture”.

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It was New Years Eve so we picked up a bottle of cheap champagne to enjoy after dinner while we watched the Golden Gate Bridge fireworks from our hotel room. We called it a night soon after since we planned to bike the bridge the next morning!

The next morning we walked to Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals and got outfitted for our trek across the bridge and into Sausalito. Robert wasn’t too keen on the helmet Winking smile

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We biked around the bay and across the bridge, stopping for a few photo ops along the way.

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Once we made it across the bridge, we rode down into beautiful Sausalito and stopped at the Trident for lunch.

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We quickly realized that the downhill ride into Sausalito was going to be one heck of an uphill ride back. The ferry’s weren’t running since it was New Years Day but we were lucky enough to catch a water taxi on its last run, making for a much more enjoyable return trip.

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  We decided all our biking had earned us a good final meal in California and we headed to Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. After some Yelp sleuthing I had decided this was our best bet for the “best pizza in San Francisco”. Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones in the mood for pizza and the wait was over an hour. The hostess told us that if we were too hungry to wait, we could walk next door to The Original Slice House, an extension of Tony’s that serves pizza to go and by the slice.

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We took her recommendation and found a table on the sidewalk while we waited for the slices Robert ordered and my calzone.

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The slices were HUGE and absolutely delicious. If you are a pizza lover and in the area, absolutely give this place a try! After dinner we headed back to the hotel, taking in the city’s evening sights for the final time!

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What a wonderful, memorable trip! California, you have two new fans who can’t wait to visit again someday! Robert and I are off to Chicago today with my sister and her boyfriend. Recapping our last trip has got me excited to embark upon this one! Can’t wait to share the memories when we return!

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