DAY 107 (9/27/05): Rest Day, Palo Alto, CA. This morning, the four of us drove into San Francisco together. We parked in the southern part of the city, and then walked all over the place. We started at Union Square and from there walked through China Town to Coit Tower, which is up at the top of a very steep hill. We declined to pay the fee to take an elevator up to the top of the tower, but we enjoyed the views of the city from the top of the hill for free. From there, we walked down several steep sets of steps connected by narrow wooden footpaths through a fairly expensive-looking neighborhood. A huge variety of lush tropical plants grew over and around the paths, making it feel like a little jungle in the middle of the city. We also had the amusement of watching a guy trying to back a big Porshe SUV into a teeny-tiny little garage of his expensive town-house off of a very steep street single-handed while talking on his cellphone. We then made our way over to the waterfront and took a look at the very touristy pier 39 area--all the usual clothing and candy shops. We caught a ferry there for the day´s highlight: a tour of Alcatraz. The ferry only takes about 10 min to get to the island, which can be clearly seen from the mainland. The views of the island, the Golden Gate, and the city itself were all great. We took the audio tour of the prison, which was really interesting, since it pointed out all sorts of features of the cellblocks and told the stories of some of the more famous inmates and escape attempts. One of the most striking things to me about the presentation was that the inmates that were interviewed kept commenting on how one of the hardest things about being on Alcatraz is that all the sounds and smells of the city would reach the island, constantly reminding the inmates about the freedoms they were missing. After the Alcatraz tour, we made a quick stop at the Ghiradeli factory before catching the Powell-Hyde line of the famous San Francisco cable-car. I had expected the cable-car ride to be just another tourist attraction (as suggested by the fare!) but it is really quite fun and worth doing once. We took it in the dark, which I think made it especially fun since the steep hills were even scarier when you couldn´t see them coming. Also, there were lots of opportunities to see the city and the bridges all lit up, providing a different experience of the city than we had walking around it during the day. So, after a very full day of sight seeing we were almost as exhausted as after a full day of cycling, and were happy to return to the peace and quiet of Palo Alto.