After only 4 hours sleep the alarm started going off I was beginning to regret staying out so late drinking. We packed all the luggage ready to leave the Mirage but before we left we went down to Starbucks for a bagel and hot chocolate in the hope I would eventually wake up.
We then checked out of the Mirage by email which is very convenient and easy to do on your mobile. We left for the airport around 8am by taxi I think it cost around $25 I can’t remember it was too early. We checked in with Virgin America very quickly and went straight through security and through to the gate, there wasn’t much in the airport to be honest but luckily we only had just over an hour to wait for our flight. Farewell Vegas for another year, but we will definitely be back. Our flight was just over an hour as we had to take a different flight route due to weather. However, sleep deprivation got the better of me and I was asleep before the plane even took off.
We arrived at terminal 2 just over an hour later and made our way through the airport to collect our luggage. Bags collected we made our way to the AirTrain to take us round to the International Terminal where the Bart Station was. We decided to get the Bart into San Francisco as it’s a cheaper option to a taxi and we like to have a go at the public transport wherever we visit. I had done some research before I left on where to go etc otherwise we would have been typical tourists asking everyone where to go. We got our Bart tickets from the ticket machine, they were $8.65 to Powell Street. Now the Bart isn’t like the London Underground and gives you lots of notice when you are coming into the station, it is very quick turn around and luckily we got chatting to some people from San Francisco and they said they would let us know when we were coming into Powell Street. It took around 30 minutes to reach Powell Street, it turns out though I hadn’t done as much research on getting from the station to the hotel. We walked for around 20 minutes in the opposite direction to the hotel. After 20 minutes of walking we decided to have a look on Google maps to find out where we were. Why we didn’t do this in the first place I have no idea. Anyway if we went the right way in the first place the Handlery Union Square Hotel was literally a 10 minute walk up the hill.
Check in was quick and easy we were given a historic room on the 4th floor no view at all but a big room. The hotel is old and had a kind of faulty towers feel but it was in the perfect location for us and everyone was so friendly and helpful. We dropped the bags off in the room and back out we went to Cheesecake Factory on the top of Macy’s for dinner. I had chicken and spaghetti Sam had chicken and vegetables, we didn’t have cheesecake this time as we were so full up but we will be going back just for cheesecake.
Before we left the UK we had booked our tickets for the night tour of Alcatraz, we booked these 90 days in advance as I was so determined to have the night slot. The only available slot back then was for the day we arrive so thankfully we had no delays getting over to San Francisco. After our early dinner at Cheesecake Factory we decided to walk to Pier 33 where the Alcatraz cruises depart from. I had chosen the 6.30pm departure as I thought the sun would be setting and it would be nice to cruise over at that time. It didn’t take as long as we thought to walk over to the Pier 33 so we were around an hour early. We sat in the outside café area and had a hot chocolate while we waited to be called to board the boat over to Alcatraz. Finally the 6.30 departure was called and it took around 30 minutes to board everyone onto the boat, you can also grab your map of Alcatraz here. We cruised over to Alcatraz and watched the sun set over Golden Gate Bridge which was stunning but it was so windy and cold, we powered through though and took some stunning shots of the bridge. As the sun set over the bridge Alcatraz became that little bit more spooky by the time we got off the boat the sun had completely set and Alcatraz was lit up with dim street lamps.
When you reach the bottom of the hill you are met by a guide who gives you an introduction to Alcatraz and will walk you up the hills giving you all the history along the way. When you reach the entrance you then get given your audio equipment and the tour continues by audio. This was great and gives you a great feel for what it was like to be in prison all those years ago. You can go around at your own pace and stop and start the audio as and when you wanted to. We paused a few times to get a few photos especially outside looking out to San Francisco lit up. There are lots of different programmes you can see so make sure you ask what is going on at the time you visit. As we visited in the evening the hospital wing was open to look around, I found this even more eerie than the actual prison itself. You begin to imagine what it was like full of prisoners. After an evening of exploring Alcatraz we caught the first evening ferry back which was at 8.40pm, this time staying in the warmth on the lower deck.
When back at Pier 33 we decided to walk down to Pier 39, with it being a tourist spot I thought it would be easier to catch a cab back to the hotel from here, well how wrong was I there wasn’t a cab in sight but there was a long queue, so we just joined the queue and waited around 30 minutes before a taxi (not Uber) appeared, it cost us around $15 to get back to our hotel in Union Square. After a day of travelling and an evening of been blown by the wind on Alcatraz we decided to call it a night and went back to the room, while we decided what would be on the agenda tomorrow.