Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Welcome to Alaska!

August 8, 2009 - I left my hotel in Redmond, WA early in the morning to rush to the airport for my last sidetrip before I head back to the Philippines. Destination: Alaska!

Curiousity got me and I've always wondered what exactly is in Alaska. Since it was summer season, I thought it was a perfect time to go to the state so it wouldn't be too cold. I have two goals for the trip - to see glaciers, even on summer time and hopefully see the "northern lights" (aurora borealis). Too bad I wasn't aware it was also the same time when tourists flock into the state.

Total flight time was around 3 hours and 30 minutes. I took the time to catch some sleep but I always get awaken and excited whenever I look out the window and see this beatiful view outside.

I redeemed a free night stay in Holiday Inn Express - Anchorage Airport that I earned as part of the a stay two nights, get one night free promotion of Priority Club. A complimentary hotel shuttle picked me up from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

I checked in around 9:00AM in the morning and a room wasn't available yet. I had a complimentary breakfast first and went off to downtown by means of People Mover, a public transportation means in Anchorage. I bought a day pass (USD4) and the Ride Guide (USD1) for convenience, hopped on route 7 and got off at Downtown Transit Center.

The transit center is near the Anchorage City Hall so I took the time to walk around and explore the area first before heading towards the area of Anchorage Market & Festival.

From afar, I saw the Holy Family Cathedral and approached the church to say grace and be thankful.

inside the church

As I was about to get out of the church, a woman approached me, apparently from the church, and gave me a blessed rosary. I was informed that it was the feast day of St. Dominic. Coincidentally, I studied in a school ran by Dominicans back when I was in elementary and the usually hear mass on Sundays at the church beside it.

The Anchorage Light Speed Planet Walk is also nearby and models of planets that mimic the ones in the solar system are scattered around downtown.

From there, I went to pickup tickets for an activity the next day but I happened to pass by a Federal Building that houses the Visitor Center so I stopped to come in and see the display.

I then went to the Visitor Information Center across it to ask for more information about the surrouding area.

Beside the Visitor Information Center is the Historic City Hall and across it is the Peratrovich Park.

I then walked towards Anchorage Market & Festival to check out the scene.

Lots of fresh produce and finished products were on sale here.

Of course there were also food and since it was nearing lunch time, a lot of locals and tourists were headed towards this area.

I was surprised to see a Filipino Food store selling pansit, lumpia and barbeque but I resisted and opted to eat something else.

There was also live music and diners were entertained while they were eating.

I passed by this stand when I went inside the Federal building. There were lots of these vendors around and I was told that one of the best in the area is this one and another in Peratrovich Park. It was an eeky thought at first but that day I tried a reindeer hotdog.

A meal for USD6.50 included the chips, softdrink and of course the reindeer hotdog with unlimited condiments.

To kill time that afternoon, I also took the Anchorage Trolley Tour for USD15. The trip which took around a couple of hours drove around Anchorage while the driver/commentator told us stories of history, facts and bizarre fun.

inside the trolley, which can accomodate around 30 people

Here are some of the places we passed by during the trolley tour:

train in Anchorage Alaska Railroad Station

painting of eagle in Anchorage High School Auditorium

small planes

boat plane

paintings on the wall for David Green, a master furrier

I also took the free walking tour that started from the Federal Building. A historian took time to walk with us to different places in Anchorage and explain the history and value of places we pass by.

Here are some of the places we passed by during the walking tour:

totem poles near the courthouse

Resolution Park

statue of Captain James Cook, an english navigator

view from the Resolution Park

After the walking tour, I headed straight back to the Holy Family Cathedral to attend an anticipated mass at 5:30PM.

"Open wide the door for Christ"

After the mass, I headed back to the hotel to take a rest. By this time the room is now ready so got to enjoy the comfort of the spacious room given to me.


Until sunset, I just relaxed while looking out the window at this beautiful view.

For dinner, I was too lazy to go out so I just decided to check out the vending machine downstairs.

I purchased a sandwich and a pizza bar from the vending machine and just heated them so I had something to eat for dinner.

The rest of the night was spent communicating with friends, family and loved ones back home and I then I decided to sleep. It was almost 11PM already but the sun was still out so I forced myself to sleep.

I got awaken around 2:00AM the next day and looked out the window. It was a nice view and lighting but too bad the chance of seeing "northern lights" is so scarce.

I then got back to sleep and recharged myself for another adventure waiting for me the next morning.


Ian | GoingRoamingWandering said...

Wow Alaska is great... You have short trip? I wonder when the Aurora Borealis appears as I am also fascinated by that phenomenon.

I heard there is an ample of Filipino community in Alaska. I enjoy reading... Have a safe trip always!

Jasper said...

@ian bryce - i guess if i came a month later, i would have seen it hehe. yeah in fact the driver of the hotel van that picked me up is a pinoy too