“Really? We’re seriously going to Alcatraz?”
This was my
asshole response when my boyfriend suggested we head to the City for some tourist-y activities. His brother was here for a few days to attend my drunk-fest birthday party over the weekend and stayed a couple extra days to check out SF. As an SF native, my initial reaction to doing the Pier 39-Fisherman’s Wharf-Lombard-bullshit is usually utter annoyance. It’s windy, there are annoying tourists and I’ve been schlepping to those places ever since I was in utero. Pre-utero. Ever since my parents were in utero… or something. You see, both sides of my family were born and raised in SF (North Beach, Butcher Town, Alemany) – a bunch of real hardcore Italian, Portuguese, Swedish SF-ers, who showed my sister and I how to do SF right. Osso bucco and Irish creams at The Gold Spike. Free Shirley Temple’s at almost any Italian restaurant in North Beach since my Grandma knew the owners. And eating the hell out of a “cable car sundae” for my birthday at Ghirardelli Square (I always ordered mint chip, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream. The sides are the chocolate cable cars, and I ate those cable cars until they melted in my kung-fu grip – never sharing).
So ya, I know San Fran… and have also inherited the been-there-done-that attitude that comes with a Bay Area upbringing.
But I hadn’t been to Alcatraz in a million years and wanted to mostly see the garden renovation that has been going on. Alcatraz has the coolest history, with some amazing past and present infamous inhabitants.
Agave attenuata. Blooming Muscari. Bearded Iris.
The wind must have blown the smug right off me because once there, I was enamored with the present day inmates… succulents like Sedum, Agave, and Echeveria thrive on that windy rock. The “prisoners gardens” were immaculate. Growing wild and full, but well tended and tidy. Beautiful and sprawling clusters of California poppies, Alyssum, red Pelargoniums and Kniphofia grew in abundance. Dripping off the terraced walls were hot pink ice plant and large sweeps of native ferns.
Touring the buildings and grounds was fascinating, and most of it I completely forgot about since the last time I was there. Here are some pics: