While most residents found it impossible to escape Alcatraz – the notorious prison island in San Francisco Bay – we had the opposite problem. All the tour parties were full. Our only option was to submit to a timeshare sales pitch, with a free visit to the island offered as a reward.
It was a tougher assignment than I’d anticipated. Three bullish sales agents took turns persuading us to sign up, sometimes using flattery and sweet-talking, sometimes becoming almost threatening. It was a good-cop bad-cop routine, aimed at lowering out defences.
We held out, repeating “We need more time to think about it” as a suspect might say “no comment” until they finally gave in. We could break in to Alcatraz!
It was a magical, surreal journey and visit, with a beautifully-curated soundtrack on the headphones you’re given, featuring the words of prisoners, guards, historians, experts, with eerie atmospherics. The place itself looked superbly ominous and almost sentient, a giant ship made of granite, sailing towards freedom.
The experience stayed in our hearts for days afterwards, as we wandered through this intoxicating city.