If you’ve done the day tour of Alcatraz and think you’ve already seen The Rock, think again. The Alcatraz night tours offer visitors the chance to go into areas of the famous prison that are closed on the day tours, including the hospital.
John Moran is the Manager of the Alcatraz Island Night Tour and a man with great insights into life on Alcatraz, and some top travel tips for San Francisco. Here he shares some of those tips as he answers Ten Questions.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is that I earn my living doing something that I truly enjoy: crafting and delivering stories to an audience from around the world.
If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?
I would change my workweek… not having a single Saturday or Sunday off work in 15 years can be difficult on one’s social life.
What’s something about your role that you wish people understood?
I wish that people understood that while I have “personal opinions” about issues central to my job (like the meaning of justice; issues about the rising rates of incarceration in this country; personal freedom etc.) I am not permitted to share these views while on the job.
In other words, when I deliver a program about political prisoners incarcerated on Alcatraz my employer requires that I draw no conclusions and present all possible points-of-view so that the visitor can reach their own conclusions. Yet every night a visitor will ask for my personal opinion and are often offended when I attempt to explain why I cannot answer their simple question.
What’s your favourite thing to do on your day off?
I enjoy hiking in the Redwood forests just north and south of San Francisco.
What’s a cheap and cheerful food secret you (usually) only tell your friends?
Crab is a popular and tasty food all around San Francisco bay. I tell people that they can catch their own crabs for nearly no cost at all if their invest $40 USD in a simple crab-pot and fish off of one of the public piers in the bay. You don’t even need to obtain a fishing license if you fish from a public pier and follow all of the rules. Instead of paying $25 for a crab along the wharf, you could catch your own for a few cents worth of raw chicken (bait) and an hour spent enjoying the views from a public pier.
If money was no object, where would you go for lunch or dinner?
I would travel to Japan and dine at the finest sushi restaurant in Tokyo.
Where do you take a friend when they come to visit?
I take friends on a walk around my neighborhood, Russian Hill. There are hidden parks, beautiful landscaped stairway walks with fantastic views, excellent restaurants and bars to stop off and have a bite and a drink, a free museum about the SF Cable Cars… I rarely take them more than a mile or two from my front door.
What’s the best shopping experience in town?
As a booklover I think the best shopping experience in SF is at Green Apple Bookstore in the Richmond district. Green Apple is an amazing bookstore selling both new and used books that spreads out between 2 separate buildings in San Francisco’s modern China Town, Clement Street. The store is a “rabbits warren” of small rooms holding thousands of volumes and is well curated by an amazing staff of writers and readers.
Is there a local tourist cliché that’s actually worth doing?
Alcatraz… what more can I say?
Is there a tourist attraction nearby that you can’t believe you still haven’t visited yourself?
No. I am a firm believer in being a tourist in your own backyard. I wish more locals took advantage of the amazing resources that they have in their own neighborhoods.
Amanda met John Moran when she took part in one of the Alcatraz Night Tours as an excursion while taking Celebrity Century cruise along the California coast. Some of the other interesting people she met on the same trip include Loree Gold from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and Scott O’Hanlon from the Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach.