The second day was as San Fran-y as it gets. We were up at an ungodly hour to make it down to the lineup to buy day-of Alcatraz tickets. They sell out weeks in advance and have a few "day of" tickets available at the box office. Unfortunately, we heard they sell out quick so we showed up around 7 for their 7:30 open. Line up was huge, and of course, sold out.
Justin and I were heartbroken since this would've been the only opportunity to go to the island prison with his conference all week and this was the number one thing we wanted to do in SF. We were about to leave after the couple in front of us stormed off angry, when the cashier called us over saying the couple at the other booth decided against the 50/50 standby ticket and there are 2 still available after all. This is a ticket that allows you on if someone IS A NO-show, but you won't know unless you show up at departure time - and you get a full refund if you don't get on. We figured sweet, not that I could imagine anyone not showing up for something sold out weeks in advance and not the cheapest! But we could try.
We walked down the wharf and it was a completely different world at 8am before all the tourist buzzing. It was another sunny California day with a bit of a sea breeze. With tickets and a hot latte in hand, we wandered around until we found the sea lions. Omg. I could spend all day watching the sea lions! There were hundreds and they were hilarious. Either they were still waking up or they were just super lazy, but there were a few that clearly did not want to stay down and hopped across the sleeping bodies, making them all roar and it all turned into one big game of king of the hill. Apparently not all sea lions were allowed on the docks, and they would all get into brawls pushing each other off. Quite entertaining.
After a while we decided we were hungry so we looked up some breakfast places, and of course found the breakfast place SF is most known for, Mama's. Arriving there, we found a one hour line up but we figured why not - they had us at crab egg Benedict. It was everything we had hoped. I had a guacamole shrimp egg Benedict and omg, we might start making this everyday when we get home. SO GOOD.
Full bellies, we realized we were just around the corner from our Airbnb so we walked back to get our bearings and figure out what we want to do for the next 2-3 hours before having to be at the port for the 3:30 departure. We mapped out all the gems and decided to make our way to the Golden Gate Bridge - something Justin missed last time he was in SF and wanted to make sure he saw this time.
It was a 1.5 hour walk so we grabbed an uber there and decided to walk back to make sure we make it. It was beautiful! So sunny and clear and we actually went across it and back since the uber got lost, but we got quite a few really good shots and even flew the drone. We walked along the coast through a gorgeous park with people picnicking and playing with their dogs. We made it to the Wave Organ, a sculpture that plays music at high tide - best heard at full moon, apparently! We looped back and found ourselves at the palace of fine arts. Gorgeous old building with GIANT columns that Justin failed to parkour. More gorgeous photos around a weeping willow, pond, and endless columns. We looked at the time and had half an hour left. We could either speed walk back at this point or backtrack into a park where there was a yoda fountain and grab an uber.
Obviously we went with yoda. We almost stopped by an open house on the way - the houses are spectacular here! But time wouldn't allow at this point, so we made it to yoda, grabbed some photos, and peeked through the windows into the LucasFilm centre. Called an uber, and despite hitting *every* red light, we made it to the port and GOT ON! We were so ridiculously happy and excited. This was the last tour of the day, and evening tours are actually better since you get some extra activities/talks you don't during the day.
What a place. Eerie to the max, we did the full tour. Learning all about the crazies who lived there (basically the convicts none of the other prisons wanted), the officers' families living ON the island, full history of the prison, battles, escape attempts, and murders that occurred there. We got to watch a cell block demonstrations and how they worked, and were told to close our eyes while listening to the sound. It was beyond eerie, and it's a sound that has been recorded and used in a number of Hollywood movies - that's how powerful it was!
We flew the drone from the island only to find out it was a bird sanctuary. Whoops, didn't know that, but it explained why Alcatraz was run by the national park service. We luckily didn't get a fine, but were just politely asked to put it away. And luckily we were already doing just that so we had our footage, but our apologies to the thousands of seagulls.
The sun had fully set by the time we were back on the boat and as we were nearing the glowing city of San Francisco, we were hungry! We looked up the number one clam chowder in the city and went to Hog Island Oyster Co. Another line up (with heaters outside), and the reviews didn't lie. We ordered exactly what all 400 reviews said - most ridiculous grilled cheese sandwich to dip into the chowder. Neither one of us could talk, it was SOOOO good. And, of course, we had a bunch of oysters while sitting at the bar watching them get shucked. All in all, a fantastic evening and we walked back to the Airbnb ready for another early night.