Written by Composthp on 30 Oct, 2008
Captain's log:12:30am Sailing through Hecate Strait12:00pm Moderate to rough seas, cloudy skies; 13°C3:00pm Canadian Pilots board at Pine Island6:00pm…Read More
Captain's log:12:30am Sailing through Hecate Strait12:00pm Moderate to rough seas, cloudy skies; 13°C3:00pm Canadian Pilots board at Pine Island6:00pm Transiting Race Passage10:15pm Passing Seymour Narrows at slack tideDid you know that the person who "drives" the cruise ship is called a pilot. I had always thought it to be the captain. We woke up to grey skies again, the ship was swaying more noticeable the night before and several of our small items had been displaced from the shelf to the floor in the bathroom. We were a little sad and lost today, somewhat disorientated to time and date. It was our last day at sea and we would surely miss the food and excellent service on board. No wonder some of the passengers kept coming back, we overheard one who claimed he had cruised to Alaska seven times! Perhaps it was the calm seas, or the copious amount of good food, the books which I had bought, thinking that I would finally have the time to finish them laid half read. My friend, who vowed to visit the gym often only did so once. We wondered how we had passed time on board for the past few days. Certainly, there were many activities organised by the cruise director, from musicals to theater events in the evenings, movies screened at least 4 times a day, 24hr cable TV (although we lost transmission for a while due to bad weather), bingo nights, bridge, cooking lessons, wine appreciation.......and so the list of activities went on, we did not participate in most of these events. One that caught our attention was the towel folding class conducted by the housekeeping section. We had marveled and squealed with delight almost every evening when we returned to our room to find different cute towel animal welcoming us. We were therefore curious to learn how it was done. We reported to the Wajang theater at the allotted time, there were many curious guests wielding cameras ready to record every word and action of our instructors who were room stewards from Indonesia. They were patient in instructing us and even obliged us by folding animals upon request. It was an enjoyable afternoon. We suspect that this class was conducted only on the last day so that the crew would not face a towel shortage midway the cruise. The disembarkation briefing cum farewell ceremony was entertaining yet informative. Detailed and clear instructions on the disembarkation process were given to us. We were tickled pink by the cruise director when he went through the top 10 most frequently asked questions by passengers in previous cruises. As we near Vancouver, the weather improved. The fog lifted slowly to reveal scenic landscapes to our right and left. Perhaps it was our last day on board, perhaps it was the warmer weather, there were more passengers outside; soaking in the late afternoon sun and trying to catch a glimpse of wildlife. We did manage to see 2 pods of orcas swimming past our ship and a cheeky sea lion frolicking past our room window. As night approaches, the scenery turned surreal, it was like admiring a charcoal sketching on a huge canvas; and as dusk turned to night, we were greeted by a gentle moon that lit a moonlight path across the water. The world that we were to return to maybe in chaos but at that moment, staring into the moonlight sky, we felt only peace.My logNo of wildlife spotted: 3 (Seagulls, orca and a sea lion)No of meals consumed: 5 Close
Written by Composthp on 28 Oct, 2008
Captain's log:1:00am Transiting the Lynn Canal6:30am Picked up Park Rangers at Bartlett Cove10:00am 0.2nm off the face of John Hopkins Glacier…Read More
Captain's log:1:00am Transiting the Lynn Canal6:30am Picked up Park Rangers at Bartlett Cove10:00am 0.2nm off the face of John Hopkins Glacier Overcast skies, slight rain; 8°C5:00pm Commenced voyage to KetchikanWe woke up to grey skies. The first sighting of ice floating along the ship was the moment we knew we had reached Glacier bay. We had pored through the day's programme the night before but could not imagine what the day would bring. At 9am, we heard the first announcement introducing the park ranger, who proceeded to inform all guests of the coming highlights. Everyone was urged to bundled up and head outside to view the spectacular views. We were among the few who decided to brave the wind and cold, unable to resist the beauty that was before us. After several trips to and fro our rooms to add on more layers or to grab another SD card/film/batteries/ gloves (we were too excited to think properly and were ill-prepared for this experience), we finally calmed down a little to appreciate God's splendour. At 9.30am, several brave souls signed up for the polar bear swim at the outdoor pool. Ice cubes were added to the already cold pool and the weather played its part by blessing us with rain. The atmosphere was carnival-like and cameras that were busy snapping at the waterfalls and glaciers turned towards the pool to record down the fateful moment when the swimmers jump into the cold pool in freezing temperature. Hot Dutch pea soup was soon served to all guests, greatly appreciated by those who were braving the cold weather to view the many glaciers looming high above us. Enterprising employees were also doubling as vendors pushing carts selling hot chocolate laced with liqueur. Viewing the towering glaciers and trickling waterfalls, one question that popped into many minds and one of the most frequently asked question by guests during this time was; "at what altitude are we at?" Truly, the fjords and glaciers gave the illusion that we were high up in the mountains (the answer to the question above........"why, we are at sea level of course!"). The sun peeked out around 12noon, that saw more guests braving the cold weather outside to take pictures of the John Hopkins glacier, a major tide water glacier that is advancing into the water. The cruise had thoughtfully providing all guests with an individual map and guide to glacier bay, still, the park ranger who narrated us through the cruise into Glacier bay provided further insight and understanding to the formation and erosion of glaciers. Every time we witnessed a carving, our hearts missed a beat. At Juneau, we were informed that Mendenhall Glacier will no longer exist in 30 years time, we wondered whether Glacier Bay will survive.At around 4.15pm, we departed from Glacier Bay reluctantly and turned our attention to the 2nd and last formal dinner and evening's programme. We had decided to have our dinner early as we were tired out from the day's activities (mainly climbing 9 decks several times as we attempted to capture the glaciers from different angles). After dinner, I had decided to check out the movie "Maid of Honour screened at the small Wajang theatrette. The crew had thoughtfully laid out boxes of free buttered popcorn for all movie goers. Alas, it was not the most satisfying movie experience as the screen was too low and the sound system poor. I returned to find an turtle placed on my bed and my friend still awake. The financial world has just turned upside down.My log:No of wildlife spotted: 2 (seagulls and some seals sunbathing on iceberg)No of meals consumed: 5 Close
Captain's log:4:00am Transiting Summer Strait5:00am Transiting Snow Passage8:15am Passing Guard Island10:00am Safely docked in Ketchikan 12:00nn Overcast, showers, gentle breeze;14°C6:10pm…Read More
Captain's log:4:00am Transiting Summer Strait5:00am Transiting Snow Passage8:15am Passing Guard Island10:00am Safely docked in Ketchikan 12:00nn Overcast, showers, gentle breeze;14°C6:10pm Commenced voyage to Vancouver7:00pm Dropped off Alaskan Pilots at Twin IslandThe fog seemed to have grown denser as we headed further north towards Ketchikan. Today was to be our last port of call and we wondered whether we would be able to finally meet the elusive Mr Brown Bear of Alaska during our nature hike at Orca beach. Ketchikan, also known as Alaska's "First City" and the "Salmon Capital", has a population of 14000. As we approached the dock, we could see for the first time in several days that Ketchikan was no one-street town and that this city was actually a city complete with a mall, downtown of shops that had more than just souvenir shops owned by cruise ships and big name hotels. We were rather pessimistic about the wet weather and were actually not looking forward to hiking in wet mud. Nevertheless, with a prayer for fine weather to breakthrough, we disembarked.The first sight that greeted us was the tourist information board with a tall board marking how much "liquid sunshine" this town recieved. The second, the huge "Welcome to Alaska's 1st City" sign across the street but what made our eyes lit up was the husky laying rather bored on the house drawn carriage carrying camera-toting tourists who had arrived earlier on another cruise ship. We had signed up for a 4hr Orca beach nature hike online for US$99pp. We realised that only 8 of us signed up for this excursion so we had a pretty large coach to ourselves. The journey to the pier at Knudson cove was a mere 30mins ride away, passing through the unique Front street tunnel that was featured in the Guinness book of records as the only tunnel that you can drive through, over and around it. As we sped pass idyllic neighbourhoods, we were entertained with interesting facts on Ketchikan. At Knudson cove, we were suited up with water-proof jackets and pants before being led to a motorised inflatable raft for a quick ride to Orca beach located on a secluded island. The name was derived from the many sightings of orcas in the area during the summer months of May till July. Here, we were met by our guide who led us onto a boardwalk trail that gently sloped upwards. We were warned not to step off the boardwalk for fear of "quick sands" composed of rotting leaves and wood that dotted the paths. The hike was an easy one through the wooded temperate rainforest. Our guide patiently pointed out interesting flora, taking pains to explain the unique ecosystem and how the native Indians "utilised" them without damaging nature. From skunk cabbage to banana slug, from the cries of an elusive bald eagle to the colorful star-fish held captive in a bucket, we had the island pretty much to ourselves. The trail looped back to the beach where we were treated with hot chocolate and smoked salmon, cheese on crackers before heading back into town. We enjoyed the leisurely hike but was a little disappointed when Mr Brown Bear decided to go into hibernation. Back in town and feeling hungry, we walked around town in search of something hot and yummy. We found a counter-top cafe in the Market place near the Lumberjack show called the Crab garden and seafood bar and ordered their special- Alaskan crab claws and seafood chowder at US$32 shared between the two of us. At last, I finally got to taste the Alaskan crab! It was fresh, huge (almost as long as my arm and just as thick) and succulent. The seafood chowder was fragrant, thick and smoky to taste. Yum!To work off the calories, we walked towards Creek Street, historically the town's red light district, it is now a quaint street of shops selling souvenirs like canned salmon (buy them here), tacky t-shirts (my fave was the 4 seasons of Alaska), local arts and crafts. This street also gave us a closer view of returning salmon (it was chum salmon when we were there), in fact, the creek was teeming with so much salmon that it attracted a sea lion who was obviously in food heaven. It was a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon and we were somewhat reluctant to return to the ship.And what towel animal awaited us that evening? A monkey hanging gleefully at the foot of my bed.My log:No of wildlife spotted: 5 (seagulls at Knudson cove, a bald eagle, a banana slug, star-fish, chum salmon and a sea lion in Creek street)No of meals consumed: 4 Close
Written by Composthp on 27 Oct, 2008
Captain's log:2:00am Transiting Lynn Canal6:25am Safely docked in Skagway12:00nn Overcast skies, moderate breeze; 13°C8:25pm Unmoored9:00pm Commenced voyage to Glacier BayThe noise of the cruise ship docking in Skagway woke us up.…Read More
Captain's log:2:00am Transiting Lynn Canal6:25am Safely docked in Skagway12:00nn Overcast skies, moderate breeze; 13°C8:25pm Unmoored9:00pm Commenced voyage to Glacier BayThe noise of the cruise ship docking in Skagway woke us up. We had signed up for a day trip to the Haines Eagle preserve wildlife river adventure. For the almost 7hr tour, we paid US$189pp. We departed at the nearby pier at 10.00am by a smaller ferry. The trip took about 45min passing through scenic the Lynn canal (the deepest and and longest fjord in the world) and waterfalls. We had a running commentary highlighting the scenic spots along the way. Haines is a sleepy town with a population of 3400, dwindling down to less than 800 during winter. It was voted the best town to live in America and was the filming location of movie "White Fang". This little hidden gem is also the gateway to the largest protected wilderness in the world, spanning over 20m acres and the host of the Bald Eagle festival in November. We met our driver cum guide who directed us into a retro (1950s?) school bus for our 30min journey inland to the Chilkat river and the Eagle preserve. Although it was suppose to be summer, autumn seemed to have arrived early here. The leaves had turned an attractive yellow and red hue. Upon arrival, we had a quick lunch of hotdogs grilled over an open fire and hot chilli before we were suited up with provided jackets, mufflers, blankets etc. We toured the Chilkat river on an open catamaran, we were the last group of the season and was warned that wildlife, being wildlife may not be cooperative. We did not manage to spot any wildlife other than the odd bald eagle sitting proudly atop a branch, a lone grey egret and a beaver's dam. Still, the scenery was spectacular as we passed cascading waterfalls and hanging glaciers. It was an exhilarating experience. We returned to land, returned the warm gear and boarded the school bus and made our way back to the pier. Unfortunately or fortunately, the ferry was late and we had a bonus tour around town and Fort Seward. Back at the pier in Skagway, we took a leisurely walk into town. This town is the gateway to the Klondike and its most popular attraction is the historical railway to the Whitepass and Yukon. The town was almost deserted, certainly the train station and some shops had already closed for the day. This gold rush town had kept many of its buildings, with a little imagination, we could almost imagine what it was like during the pioneer days. My log:No of wildlife spotted: 2 (bald eagle and an egret)No of meals consumed: 3 Close
Captain's log:8:35am Picked up our first Alaskan pilot12:00nn Overcast skies, moderate breeze; 10°C1:40pm Safely docked in Juneau10:05pm Unmoored10:35pm Commenced voyage to SkagwayWe had breakfast at the Lido restaurant as we preferred the freedom of choosing our seats (by…Read More
Captain's log:8:35am Picked up our first Alaskan pilot12:00nn Overcast skies, moderate breeze; 10°C1:40pm Safely docked in Juneau10:05pm Unmoored10:35pm Commenced voyage to SkagwayWe had breakfast at the Lido restaurant as we preferred the freedom of choosing our seats (by the window of course) and food at leisure. We were excited at the prospect of reaching our first port of call and the possibility of encountering small pieces of ice floating pass us as we sail into the Gastineau channel. We decided to skip the morning's activities, preferring to hang around the Exploration cafe and at deck 6 until lunch, which we ate early as we would be going for the photo safari later. The approach to Juneau was scenic with many waterfalls and rustic houses dotting the mountain ranges on either side of the Gastineau channel. Juneau, as the cruise's port and shopping ambassador would have you know is a one street town that came into being during the gold rush years. The only access into Juneau is by air or sea due to its geographical location. The highlights of this town were the Red Dog Saloon, a brothel now turned into a respectable pub, a city museum, Mt Roberts tram and of course, Mendenhall Glacier. Strangely, this is also Alaska's capital city and the gateway into the Tongass National forest.We had signed up with Holland America for the Photo Safari by land and sea.We paid US$179pp for the 4-1/2hr tour. We were met at the end of the gangway by our guide Cameron or Cam for short. An affable gentleman, he entertained us with tidbits of information on life in Alaska, specifically, life in Juneau during the 30 minute bus ride to the pier. There, we were divided into 2 groups of 14 and boarded a smaller vessel that took us to the Juneau's channel islands and Stephan's Passage around Douglas Island for whale watching. The vessel had large glass panels that would be opened during the photo shoot session. We were kept dry and warm when not shooting. As we sped towards the first whale watching site, Cam briefed us on the how-tos for that perfect humpback whale picture. He gave us practical tips on how to set our cameras and interesting information on humpback whales and its habits as well as safety aboard.Our first glimpse of the humpback whale was during our approach, it was slapping its tail above sea and I could hear the splash even from a distance. However, no one was able to capture that and the whale disappeared when we arrived. Not to be daunted, we changed location and arrived amidst a pod of about 4-6 whales. It was magnificent observing them and exciting as we try to capture them as they emerged from under the sea. The next location was a buoy that was a favorite hang out for sea lions. We circled around them with Cam shouting out instructions on how to take the best shots, it was hard to concentrate on his instructions as the sea lions were simply too cute.Back on shore, we stopped to admire the bald eagles along the shoreline before boarding the bus again to Mendenhall Glacier. By now, the weather had became overcast with light rain gently blessing us as we hike through theTrail of time towards the Mendenhall Glacier. This was an easy trail with clear markings stating when the glacier had retreated. During the hike, Cam also pointed out interesting flora and fauna, including bear markings. By the time we reached the Mendenhall glacier half an hour later, the glacier was surrounded by fog. It was also getting darker and pouring such that photo-taking was not impossible. After a quick look around, we boarded the bus cold and disappointed. Cam consoled us by showing us some of his pictures taken during previous trips on a laptop, as we sighed over the beauty of the pictures, he distributed a cd containing pictures we were shown and photography tips. This shore excursion was my favourite among all during our Alaskan adventure, not least because Cam was attentive to all and gave really practical photography tips including how to protect your camera in wet weather. This trip is suitable for all beginners or those interested in photography. Even though we did not spot any brown bears, we were content and tired by the end of the trip. Back to the port, we strolled along Franklin street to take in more of the local sights and to check out the souvenir shops. The advantage of being on board one of the last cruises to Alaska was that we were in time for the stores' clearance sale as they prepared to close down for the winter. Back aboard after sanitizing our hands at the entrance of the gangway, we headed for Lido restaurant (our fave place to be) for the gold rush dinner before settling in for the night. An elephant was waiting patiently for us on my bed.My log:No of wildlife spotted: 3 (Humpback whales, bald eagles and Sea lions)No of meals consumed: 3 Close
Captain's log:3:00am Transiting Seymour Narrows12:00nn Cloudy, gentle breeze; 13°C2:00pm Transiting Principe Channel7:30pm Dropped off our pilots at Triple IslandWe woke up to the sway of the ship, feeling a little jet lag and a little green around the edges from the not…Read More
Captain's log:3:00am Transiting Seymour Narrows12:00nn Cloudy, gentle breeze; 13°C2:00pm Transiting Principe Channel7:30pm Dropped off our pilots at Triple IslandWe woke up to the sway of the ship, feeling a little jet lag and a little green around the edges from the not so gentle swaying motion. Our first mission this morning was to find food followed by the laundry room. We received a daily program sheet informing us of the day's events and the dress code for the evening meal (formal) and a mini-version of the news (mainly that of the US). We made our way through the claustrophobic corridor (imagine the house of mirrors) to the upper decks and found breakfast at the Lido restaurant.This was a casual buffet styled restaurant that serves continental breakfast till 11am. From cereals to fruits, eggs done anyway you like to waffles and oats. There was so much variety that most guests had trouble making up their minds what they wanted. It was tempting to over-eat and this was only breakfast!Over a leisurely breakfast, we discussed our plans for the day and decided to sit in for a short lecture on Alaska's Native people delivered by Emily Johnston, a native Eskimo from the Nunivak Island that was to begin later that morning at the Vermeer lounge. We explored the ship after breakfast and promptly lost each other. We missed that lecture but managed to find our way to the Vemeer lounge in time for the second half at 2.30pm on Alaskan Wildlife. The lecture itself lasted 30 minutes but felt like an hour. It was well attended, however, Emily spoke at such a slow pace that within 5 minutes of her lecture, I could see nodding heads and this was not because the audience was agreeing with her. I emerged learning little other than the possibility of us encountering humpback whales, seas or porpoises during the cruise. We compared notes over tea and concluded we would be better off heading to the Exploration cafe to find a book to read. Doing laundry was a little frustrating. Finding the laundry room was daunting in the never-ending corridors at deck 4 (where our room was located). Upon questioning a steward, we were informed that the nearest laundry facilities was on deck 5 (apparently they had closed the one in deck 4). We finally found the laundry room after directions from 2 more stewards; we had actually walked past it without knowing since the doors were all similar but found we were unable to operate it as we only had Canadian coins (only US dollar is accepted on board). Aurgh! The good thing about becoming lost on board was that we expended enough energy to justify us heading for the Royal Dutch tea at the Rotterdam dining room at 3pm (and lunch was only 2 hours ago). Dining at the Rotterdam was not a very relaxing affair. It was a semi-formal setting which meant that we had to behave ourselves. We were not allowed to chose our seats and had to share a table with 2 other ladies (whose husbands where off doing gentlemen stuff). It was a little awkward to say the least. To kill time between meals, my friend decided to head for the gym while I decided to walk outside deck 6. This was the only deck that allows guests to walk around the entire ship (4 laps = 1 mile). I had expected it to be empty since most everyone seemed to be indoors engaged in the many activities organised by the crew but to my surprise, there were walkers all donned up in shorts and sneakers, actively exercising and counting the number of laps done.Dinner was a formal affair, we were not sure what to expect and I made my friend changed at least 3 times as I felt her clothes were not formal enough before we headed to the Rotterdam. It was not entirely a glitzy affair (we had an early dinner so perhaps the glitter was for later) but the food was fantastic (even if we had to behave ourselves and use the cutlery in correct order) and service was impeccable. We were tempted to order the main course (best lamb tasted ever and steamed Alaskan crab claws!) again but felt that would be over-doing it.A pleasant surprise awaited us back in our stateroom in a form of a cute Koala made from bath towels, a greeting card from the Captain and a gold chocolate coin. In all, we were impressed by the excellent service received, especially from our steward; our room was kept impeccable every time we returned to it during the day and this is only the second day. My log:No of wildlife spotted: NoneNo of meals consumed: 4 Close
Written by Composthp on 26 Oct, 2008
After some online research, we picked Holland America line, specifically ms Ryndam for our first cruise experience to Alaska. This 720-feet has a 1258 passenger capacity and is considered mid-sized with an emphasis towards passengers' comfort. To quote the cruise director's words; "to check in…Read More
After some online research, we picked Holland America line, specifically ms Ryndam for our first cruise experience to Alaska. This 720-feet has a 1258 passenger capacity and is considered mid-sized with an emphasis towards passengers' comfort. To quote the cruise director's words; "to check in guests as passengers and to roll 'em out as cargo" seemed to be every crew member's mission on board. Certainly, looking at the volume of food they served (5 meals a day with 24hr meal service), no guest would be immune to weight gain during the cruise.We booked the cruise online at Cabin Closeouts. The website seemed tacky but the response and service was prompt and reliable, not to mention more affordable. Had we booked with a local agent, we would have to fork out US$1500 for the same stateroom. The only grouse I had about this website is that the agent had our last names printed wrongly and did not made the necessary amendments even after several email reminders. For shore excursions, we booked directly online through Holland America. 3 months before departure, we received a thick package consisting of detailed booklets on life aboard, shore excursions, survivor tips, bag tags etc. I was already impressed. Checking in online was a breeze and this facilitated our actual check in on that day. For a 7 day Glacier Bay Inside passage departing from Vancouver, we paid US$1110 for a large ocean view (unobstructed) twin-sharing stateroom (inclusive of taxes and surcharges). An additional US$70 was deducted at the end of the trip as tips to the crew. Coming from a non-tipping culture, this was a relief to us as we do not have to wonder how much and who to tip during the cruise.We arrived at the Canada Place 2 hours before departure and went through customs smoothly (thanks to a senior gentleman who guided us through every step, including filling in the customs form). On board, we were surprised to find many of the crew were from Indonesia and the Philippines, that somewhat put us at ease. No sooner had we oohhed and ahhed over our room (which exceeded our expectations), our steward came to introduce himself, this was followed by an announcement for all guests to report to deck 6 for a very important (compulsory) fire drill. We came to realise that we were one of the few Asians and of the younger ones on board as we were lined up along deck 6. We returned to our room after the drill and started to unpack and to explore the rest of the ship (for which we promptly got lost). The ship departed at 1720hr to the sound of the lively band at Crow's nest. Our cruise commenced with pomp and circumstance as it slowly made its way out of the Burrand inlet, passing under the Lion's Bridge and Stanley park as it headed towards our first port of call- Juneau. Close
Written by Bobbi on 27 Oct, 2000
Juneau is in a spectacularly beautiful setting, surrounded as it is by mountains and glaciers, and cozied up to the Gastineau Channel. It is very large inland area (second only to Sitka in North America) but quite small in population (30,000). Half of…Read More
Juneau is in a spectacularly beautiful setting, surrounded as it is by mountains and glaciers, and cozied up to the Gastineau Channel. It is very large inland area (second only to Sitka in North America) but quite small in population (30,000). Half of the workforce are government employees, and the downtown area is very small. The surrounding terrain is very steep, and much of the city itself is built on the rubble from gold mines. The most astonishing thing to me is that the highways out of town run for perhaps 40 miles north, 3 miles south, then stop--they do not connect Juneau to any other cities.
There are lots of different things to do in and around Juneau. A visit to the Mendenhall Glacier is a must; we also visited the Alaska Brewery, which makes a fine dark beer, a fish hatchery where we watched the salmon climb the fish ladder (and bought salmon jerky, which was great), and went on a tour that took us panning for gold (lots of fun, but backbreaking work). The tour also took us to the Governor's mansion (nice house, not much land) and St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church.
Written by Adelaide on 08 Nov, 2000
Sitka is a Tlingit name that means 'by the sea.' Under the name of Novoarkhangelsk, it was the capital of Russian Alaska until the USA bought Alaska from the Russians in 1867. It is located in Baranof Island, named after Alexander Baranov, manager of the…Read More
Sitka is a Tlingit name that means 'by the sea.' Under the name of Novoarkhangelsk, it was the capital of Russian Alaska until the USA bought Alaska from the Russians in 1867. It is located in Baranof Island, named after Alexander Baranov, manager of the Russian-American Company that explored the region. They were particularly attracted by sea otters' fur, which were hunted almost to extinction.
We took a short guided walking tour and later we visited places on our own. At Castle Hill, the acquisition of Alaska was signed, ending with over a century of Russian colony.
St. Michael's Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox church first built in the 1840s. Destroyed it in 1966, when fire burned many blocks in downtown Sitka, a replica was built on the same site. The Orthodox Church was more easily accepted by the native tribes because its priests did not attempt to destroy the indigenous culture.
We also visited The Bishop's House, Sitka National Historical Park, and the Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center, a hospital for birds with many bald eagles.
Sitka is a very pleasant city, proud of its Russian and Tlingit origin. Dance groups present their folk dances.
Skagway is the site of the Klondike Gold Rush National Park. In 1897, this was the starting point for goldseekers on their way to the Klodike River. Chilkoot Trail, starting at the nearby city of Dyea, was the steepest but shortest route and can still…Read More
Skagway is the site of the Klondike Gold Rush National Park. In 1897, this was the starting point for goldseekers on their way to the Klodike River. Chilkoot Trail, starting at the nearby city of Dyea, was the steepest but shortest route and can still be hiked today. People were only allowed into Canada if they had provisions for one year, so they had to take many trips to carry all they needed. Many died on the trail. Artifacts were left on the way to relieve the weight and can still be found on the trail. Although a tramway was built to carry cargo, few could afford this transportation.
The city is very small and keeps the atmosphere of the old times. Tourists normaly take the train trip on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad. This railroad was built as an alternate route to the Klondike. Although the gold rush was over when it was finished in 1899, it was still useful as a connection with the remaining mining towns and to provide goods into that remote part of Canada. The train partially follows the Skagway River valley, offering us some nice views of the vegetation and some waterfalls. White Pass was another trail people took to the Klondike, longer but allowing the use of animals. Though it was a nice trip, I thought it expensive for what it offered us (US$80, 3h).