We had arrived in Seward Alaska on a grey and misty morning at the end of our week-long cruise from Vancouver (see here)
Our train up to Anchorage was not due to board till early evening so, having secured our luggage at the station, we headed into town to see what was on offer.
Seward is a port city in southern Alaska, set in an inlet on the Kenai Peninsula. The Kenai Fjords National Park is situated to the west of the town, though unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to explore it. It sounds as spectacular as the Glacier Bay National Park we had visited on our cruise a couple of days earlier (see here). The national park is a place where glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield into coastal fjords surrounded by mountains and pristine wilderness.
There were similarities to the south-east peninsula of Alaska where we had spent the past week. Misty grey skies and pretty wooden buildings, including a couple of churches, were reminiscent of Scotland or Scandinavia. The shops were just opening up. Predictably there were quite a few souvenir places designed to attract the tourists coming off the boats and train but also authentic looking bars and eateries too. It was a quaint mixture but you did have a feeling you were in a very remote part of the world.
We had seen the Alaska SeaLife Centre advertised and since it was on the far edge of town decided to head there first to avoid disappointment in case we ran out of time later on. We spent the next couple of hours or so there and it was a memorable experience. We learnt so much about the local wildlife and the delicate ecosystem in Alaska during our visit. Whales and porpoises live in the waters of the fjords and the SeaLife Centre rehabilitates many injured and ill animals, especially seals and puffins.
We loved the interactive displays and the chance to see cute animals, such as the sea otters, on the road to recovery. Some of the photos are a little blurry, which makes the antics of the seals a little hard to see, but hopefully the photos create an impression of what our experience was like. The puffins were a particular favourite of mine too.
Unfortunately with the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic and the ceasing of cruises up to Alaska, the SeaLife Centre ran into severe financial difficulties and was facing permanent closure. A major fundraising campaign has meant it has been able to stay open during the northern winter (see here for an article I found in the Anchorage Daily News). However there are still concerns over its viability going forward in the summer unless tourism can resume.
By the time we had finished our tour round the SeaLife Centre it was nearly lunchtime and we rejoined our friends in the Seward Brewing Company for a hearty Alaskan meal. Salmon featured heavily on the menu! It happens to be one of my favourite foods and was simply delicious. Since it was pouring with rain we were somewhat restricted in the activities we could do – really staying indoors was the best option. Having made our way back into the town centre, courtesy of a lift from some locals, we ended up at one of the bars along the main street. We enjoyed a late afternoon aperitif (if that’s the right word?) before heading back to the harbour to retrieve our luggage and check in for our train journey up to Anchorage, which I’ll cover in the next post.
I had intended to publish this post last Sunday but hadn’t quite finished it before we headed out to our elder granddaughter’s birthday party at lunchtime. Whilst there we got the news that Perth and the South West of Western Australia were going into a snap hard lockdown at 6pm that evening for 5 days. A security guard in one of our quarantine hotels had tested positive to Covid (the new more infectious UK strain) and had been out and about in the community for several days. Hence we had to run round and get a few supplies after the party and I delayed finishing my post.
We have been so lucky here and have been able to lead a relatively normal life for the past few months so it came as quite a shock. Fortunately all close and casual contacts have been quickly identified and isolated. To date no further cases have emerged despite extensive testing. We have come out of lockdown this evening though some restrictions are in place in Perth for another week or so, such as mandatory mask wearing when we are out in public (both indoors and outdoors). We also have reduced capacities at venues such as cafes and restaurants and must check in using a QR code wherever we go. We do appreciate how lucky we’ve been and can really empathise with people facing extended lockdowns, which must be so hard. Take care everyone and stay safe X
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