I just have a few posts to finish off my Alaska series (see here for all previous posts).
It does seem strange to to be writing this over two years later when travel seems somewhat of a distant memory. In the best of times the tourist season in Alaska was relatively short from May to August and as far as I know the cruise season was cancelled completely in 2020 after the Covid pandemic hit.
Given that the revenue generated by tourism was a major component of the Alaska economy, I wondered what would be happening in 2021. I came across a recent article here, which as I thought confirmed most of the major cruise lines have already cancelled any sailings for this northern summer. A couple including Holland America (which was the line we went on) haven’t ruled out some late sailings from July onwards.
Owing to Covid regulations, large cruise ships sailing up from the USA are banned completely in Canadian waters. There are however some loopholes regarding smaller boat tours with reduced passenger capacity, which means some tours may still go ahead this year.
Back to Anchorage our next stop!
We arrived in the largest Alaskan city, Anchorage, (note Juneau is in fact the capital) late evening on a rather damp cold August day. We had booked into the Lakefront Hotel Anchorage for a couple of nights, which bills itself as “A wilderness lodge in the heart of the city”. Certainly it felt very rustic with wooden panelling and a cosy homely atmosphere slightly spoiled for me by the decorative features on the walls of a plethora of stuffed animals unfortunate enough to have got in the way of the local hunters.
It turned out it that we had arrived in the midst of the short 6 week hunting season and the place was full of enthusiastic hunters who seemed to carry their guns around in the way I would a handbag. We made our way to the restaurant for dinner slightly bemused by a number of patrons nonchalantly strolling around with ‘violin cases’ dangling from their shoulders or in their hands.
Locals use seaplanes like cars and the lake in front of our hotel was always a hive of activity with light planes coming in to land and taking off.
It was certainly an eye opener into Alaska – a place we found of large contradictions. Blessed with wonderful scenery of outstanding beauty and pristine wilderness conservation areas juxtaposed with hunters, oil pipelines that cross the peninsula from north to south and US military bases.
The next day dawned even greyer and wetter than the previous one. Indoor activities were the only sensible option so Monsieur and I headed to the museum to discover more. It happened to be his birthday and turned into one of the more memorable ones.
The Anchorage Museum is a fascinating exploration of the many facets of history, daily life and the rich cultural history of the First Nations People that have helped to shape this part of the world. There are art collections, interactive exhibits and the exploration of themes such as the environment and the effects of climate change. We lost ourselves there for a few hours – below is a visual tour, which is the best way to illustrate a small selection of the available exhibits. Please excuse the poor quality of some photos – the challenges of being indoors with tricky lighting!
As I said earlier I have now collated all my Alaska series of posts into their own category which you can find here.
The following day having collected a car we set off by road to head further north into the Alaska heartland.
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