Knowing that I was going to have some time in San Francisco throughout these six months I started a list of things I wanted to do, see, and eat. Some of the items are old favorites but a number of them are places I've been wanting to go to and just not gotten around to or they're too crowded during the weekends that mid-week seems much more appropriate.
In my first week back I checked off a few things - brunch at MyMy Cafe on California Street, the Botanical Gardens and the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, mid-week run along Embarcadero, and soaking up some sun in Union Square. The Conservatory of Flowers is one of my favorite spots in the city. It's a small place but packed with beautiful, bright and cheerful flowers.
Now that I'm back for a little bit and the weather is great I figured I needed to tackle a few more items on the list. First up was Alcatraz. There's an art exhibit by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei called @large that I'd seen numerous photos of and really wanted to check out. The installations are throughout Alcatraz and actually a few of them are in areas that are not normally open to visitors.
Ai Weiwei is both an artist and activist and has been outspoken about the Chinese government, human rights, and freedom of expression. The exhibit he created is meant to provoke thought and discussion about human rights, expression, and those who have been/are detained for speaking out about their beliefs. Weiwei is not allowed to leave China so he designed everything from Beijing and then it was installed here on Alcatraz without him actually being able to see it. Overall it was quite interesting to wander through and see these installations in Alcatraz with all of it's history and decaying structures. The paper dragon kite that I'd seen so many pictures of was beautiful to see in person and then the portraits of almost 200 people who have been detained for speaking out made from a million legos was unreal.
The rest of Alcatraz looked and sounded as it did the last time I was there but it's such an interesting place with loads of history and fantastic views back to the city and out to the Golden Gate Bridge that I enjoyed it all. The audio tour is really well done and a definite must while there. I also checked out a number of the gardens that are on the island - there were some beautiful flowers (and sea gulls everywhere), not really what you think of when you're at a prison!
All of the photos from Alcatraz and a few additional ones from the wander back home can be found here, below are a few that I liked most.