Welcome To The Rock


After sleeping soundly in the plush Hyatt hotel I awoke refreshed and ready to go on my next adventure. This didn’t start exactly as I hoped as I got terribly lost trying to locate the gym. Although, in my defence, it was dark and the hotel grounds are so big that they even have two pools, two firepits to make smores on and a golf course! However, at the time I was using a map that the concierge had given to me the night before so I bashfully approached the concierge desk, yet again, to explain I was lost. The shame! Especially when he offered me the bellboy to secret me to the gym like a lost child. Fortunately, as I don’t think my sense of direction would have lived that down, no bellboy could be procured so I set off on my own. After finding the gym I glued myself to the treadmill, which was where I was interrupted by a man a while later. He was obviously still half asleep and was in his pyjamas. He asked if I could stop as all they could hear in their room above was a tremendous thudding noise. I knew my Vibrams made me sound like a small elephant but I didn’t realise it was that bad! Luckily I was nearly finished anyway so I retreated back to the room to get ready for breakfast. Things had not gone well so far and it wasn’t even seven am yet. Thank goodness I am on an organised tour and am somebody else’s problem. I dissolve all my responsibility into the capable hands of my air cruise host and Luke, although he is as bad as me. We are not safe to be let out on our own let alone together.

Then the day took a giant turn for the better at breakfast. It was really good and I was almost flummoxed by all the choice. I was also able to sneak some fruit and hot water out so my coffee stealth moves worked. Well almost, I did ask the server first but we can pretend I didn’t. Silly conscience. Then, goodies in tow, we boarded the bus to head to our private plane on a little airport.

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This also just happened to be where the secretary of defence had flown in earlier and left his plane while he enjoyed the labour weekend in Monterey.

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See? We are travelling in style! They even had sweets on the airport receptionist’s desk!
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What was even better was when the flight surprisingly, and rather suddenly that it even took the air hostess by surprise, landed very soon after it took off! The very chirpy air hostess had only had time to serve about six drinks, myself included, before the plane began to descent. How great is that! So we un-boarded and settled into our seats on our new bus for a quick tour around San Fransisco. Unfortunately it was a bit misty but we still got to see both bridges, Alcatraz and the famous skyline that I have been dying to see ever since I watched Homeward Bound.

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I was just a smidgen worried when our host told us about the bridge that collapsed with people on it, in San Francisco, as it just happened to be the bridge we were on at that second. Not great timing! Yet we survived the bridge and meandered through the sprawling Chinatown and up some very steep hills that gave me goosebumps just thinking about what a nightmare a manual car would be here. Hill starts are a particular weakness of mine. We then stopped at the capitol building were there was a group of people participating in a spot of Falun Daka, so, naturally, I joined in.

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Feeling sufficiently more relaxed we made our last coach journey and got to the famous Fisherman’s Wharf.

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Here we more than indulged in a spot of lunch. This was not just any lunch, this was a fish ‘supper’ in the city by the bay. We purchased a tray of fish and chips,
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followed by succulent shrimp and crab on bannock bread.
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We then located the chocolate shop where there were numerous barrels overflowing with chocolate.

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We did not get a barrel but settled for a cheeky square of Ghiradelli to top off our lunch.

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It was indeed heaven and such a nice way to spend a few hours and we saw lots of sights including a navy ship,

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lots of fish and this amazing bakery called Boudin!

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They had made bread into shapes I didn’t think bread could be made into! How do they make bread look like turtles and teddy bears? I wouldn’t want to eat them as they are far too cute to be edible.

We left the glorious smell of baking bread and headed to meet the group before boarding the boat to the rock.Unfortunately, there was one too many people in our group for the amount of tickets we had. We were at crisis point and nearly drawing numbers when one altruistic couple gave up their chance to go. I was secretly relieved as this was what I was looking forward to the most, after years of having to watch The Rock with my brothers. They even know the whole script and they like to throw random quotes into conversations after one or two drinks. I was remembering some of them on the way over to The Rock. The boat was packed and there was a member of staff continuously walking around the ship and he looked a bit like security or a prison guard. Hopefully the first one! We landed on Alcatraz and began our tour under the beady eye of the watchtower.

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After climbing up to the rock we entered the notorious prison, through the shower rooms, and picked up our audio cassettes.

photoIt was a bit surreal to take these off as the prison was silent due to everyone using the audio tours because they were such a good tool to have. They were very informative and everyone followed the correct route like drones.

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I didn’t set of any metal detectors but I did veer off course and into a cell after I was directed into it be a member of staff.  Once in the cell I was relieved to see other people huddled against the wall untill I remembered this one particular scene in the rock where the tourists remain locked in the cell. I put this out of my mind then everything went black. As it turned out, this particular cell was an isolation cell so no light or communication was allowed. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to spend some time in the cell as it was pitch black. Well,  it was until one of the other tourists got out there Iphone to send a text. All of sudden the cell was illuminated and somehow it spoilt the effect. I don’t think the prisoners were allowed to play on their Iphone whilst in isolation.

We had a good luck around and saw how three prisoners escaped and their whereabouts are still a mystery today. We then enjoyed the stunning views of the city by the bay before scooting onto the next ferry.

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Luckily neither of us managed to get the other one incarcerated permanently. Although it was touch and go at one point.

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We watched Alcatraz recede into the horizon with a warming cup of hot chocolate. With that sugar fix we decided to walk back to the hotel and get a real sense of the city. We walked up through the financial district which was empty.

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I have never seen a Starbucks close at five on a Saturday afternoon before! We finally arrived at our hotel, which turned out to be the Hilton. It is huge so I can see myself getting lost already. There are three towers and we were in tower one in a very nice room. We had a bit of a rest before getting ready for dinner.

We rejoined the group in the expansive lobby and ventured down the road to a greek restaurant called Santorini.

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As we entered the restaurant we were greeted by live music and a livelier atmosphere. We were all sat at different tables so we got chatting to different people. There was a couple from holland, an american couple who we had raced to the lifts before dinner and two girls from Israel though I am yet to strike up a conversation with them. The company was highly entertaining and the food was lovely. It included various meats, salads and rock-hard falafel that tasted nicer than they cut.

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We left dinner in search of a bottle of water and the streets had become more full and there was a part atmosphere due to it being labour day. However, we are saving our partying until Las Vegas as the last thing I want is to be suffering from a hangover on a coach all day. Especially as we are off to a winery tomorrow! Unless I drink straight through?
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