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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Trip to Alcatraz

Today morning, on the 21st of August, 2005, we (myself, Susmita and my parents) had gone to Alcatraz islands in San Fransisco. This island is just a mile and a half away into the ocean but this, at one time, was the home to one of the most harshest prisons known to mankind. Some of the famous criminals who were kept at Alcatraz was Al Capone, Robert Stroud etc.

We had booked the tour in advance from the Blue & Gold Fleet. I was really surprised by the popularity of the tour - all tours are booked way in advance and so, it was no surprise that the boat was full of people ready to start off on their mission. It was a glorious day and one could see the majestic skyline of San Fransisco from the boat while heading north to the island.

Once you land on the island, you need to walk a mile or so up a hill to get into the actual cell chambers. While you enter, you will be given a head-phone and a player. You just need to follow instructions and play the audio as you move along the cells. It is quite eerie to see the dirty and small cells and it is scarier to think that people could have stayed in such "holes" for so many years. The only good places in the whole of the cell house was the library and the dining room. From the dining room windows, one could see San Fransisco at a distant - apparently, these were means of letting the prisoners know that the world outside was so beautiful and they were missing all that.

I must say that you cannot come out of that place unnerved. My mother was clearly shaken and was not able to take it for a long time. Once you are out of the cell house under the clear sun, world looks beautiful again :). After coming back to San Fransisco, we spent some time in the neighboring Fisherman's Wharf and then drove back home.

It might be a little eerie, but it is definitely a place worth visiting, in order to know what price some people had to pay for the crimes that they had committed.

-- Thyaga

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