Tag Archives: Alaskan Cruise

Seattle, Washington

Seattle SkylineOn the way to and from the Alaskan Cruises, the largest and most famous city in Washington is the port that serves the ships, bound to sail to the 49th state of the USA.  Having had the pleasure of staying there many a time, it is in my opinion a place worth visiting.  Aside from having close friends who live there, thus having a place to stay if I wish, there is such joy I derive from this North Western city, that even if arriving for a cruise, which usually takes off on Sundays, I like to get there a couple of days early, book a hotel room well ahead of time and hike, take yoga classes, and elevate my spirits in this town, which has never let me down, with it’s clean air, temperatures which are never too cold or too hot, and a general air of healthy living.

The birthplace of Starbucks and headquarters of Costco (whose own brand, Kirkland is named after the town it originated from), is filled with lush greenery, a history that contains famous characters and events and has an endless amount of activity one could fill their day with, feeling healthier and smarter than before they arrived.  Seattleites are known as a brainy lot, having produced many brilliant and eccentric people, some of whom I’ll be sure to mention.

Since the city is where the Klondike Stampede in the mid 1890 began, bringing men and women from across the world here, the Northernmost point of continental USA, on their way to depart for Dawson, heart of the Gold Rush.  New hotels were built to cater to the influx, as the Gold Fever gave local merchants tens of thousands of customers. Stores like Cooper and Levy stocked trousers, bicycles, dog sleds and even sled dogs.  The quantity of provisions was so vast it had to be stored in the street near the stores, because according to Canadian law each prospector had to have year’s supply of everything they might need.  Of course, the city had to cater to the multitudes of people who came thru it, with many returning after the Rush petered out and settled there.

People like Elmer Fisher, the elusive yet brilliant architect established the face of early downtown Seattle, his elegant stone and brick creations still decorating the city’s skyline, from Jackson Street to Belltown.  Then there was Reginald H. Thompson, The King of the Hills, who had an obsession with leveling the city’s hills, giving it a facelift it had never seen before or will probably will not see again.

Nowadays, Seattle has become a place filled with things to see, experience cultural events such as the Seattle Philharmonic or the exceptional Ballet co.  But first things first: The Space Needle is a must see, the equivalent of the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Empire State Building in NYC.   It’s an iconic building, erected in 1962 for the World’s Fair, and is 605 feet high. After the elevator ride, which takes 43 seconds the elevator operator usually gives the quickest verbal tour of Seattle and it’s surroundings. When you reach the observatory, open views of downtown Seattle, Olympic Mountains, the Puget Sounds, Lake Washington and surrounding cities. The view is spectacular, despite not being the tallest building anymore in Seattle’s skyline, because of a city ordinance that preserves the sight lines from the tower.  For the best view of the Space Needle, and in fact the whole of Seattle’s skyline, is actually a few steep blocks away, at Kerry Point, made famous by TV’s ‘Frasier’.

Then, off to Pike Place Market, where fresh fish (mainly wild salmon), the freshest of farm produce, crafts and the original Starbuck, founded in 1971, can be found and enjoyed. The vegetables and fruit are so fresh and crisp they feel just picked and oozing nutrients.  The Waterfront is an awesome experience, especially with it’s newest addition- the Seattle Great Wheel. It is only two years old but has the drawing power to attract visitors in vast numbers. It’s the largest observation wheel on the West Coast at 175 feet in height 42 fully enclosed gondolas, each holding eight people. Since Seattle is blessed (or cursed, depends on your outlook) with a rainy climate, you can be dry and snug as you ride the Wheel and take in the views on the three revolutions of the ride. It’s great fun for both kids and adults.  The Aquarium is also at the waterfront, where the attendants have hands on experience with Marine preservation and education.

The art museum is a post modern building with a wonderful collection to savor and the Klondike Gold Rush Museum is a free museum, telling the city’s history beginning with the tragic fire which burnt it down and the Gold rush which rebuilt it.  The city is a cornucopia of activities, vibrant and alive with special events and festivals.  If you happen to be there on the first Thursday of the month, you could partake of the ‘art walk’ in the historic Pioneer Square, with free admission to galleries and local artisans set up booths in Occidental Square, selling their ceramics, jewelry and art.  Every month has a specific themed festival and to find out which festival is happening when you happen to be there just go to http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g60878-s408/Seattle:Washington:Events.And.Festivals.html  Enjoy!


‘Love is the most powerful way to create profoundly tangible  transformation in everyone who crosses our path. Yet we must be mindful  to endow the self with pure, unconditional love and acceptance, which will result in an infinite fountain of empathy and joy, readily available to give others.’


Juneau, Alaska

Juneau, Alaska

Juneau, Alaska

Yesterday, at Whole Foods, I started talking to a very nice woman, a visitor from Alaska’s State Capital. She commented on the variety of produce and the difference in prices for certain items, between New York and Juneau.  Soon her husband joined us with a cart full of fresh veggies and fruits and they told me, that they are both doctors who were invited from Eastern USA to work in downtown Juneau, fell in love with the place and now are returning to the big apple to visit their parents and siblings.

We got to talking about what it felt like to go from here to Alaska, and both said the place has a magic all it’s own, with highly active lifestyle and natural beauty in abundance.  The woman told me that when arrived in Juneau by boat (they were moving cross country, furniture and all), they were told the only way to Juneau is by boat, airplane or birth canal. This expression is an ongoing jocular statement which actually reflects reality. They were in amazing shape, a fact they attributed to the outdoorsy lifestyle they are living. Every free moment is taken up hiking, mountain climbing and eating fresh fish caught by them, on their salmon and halibut fishing expeditions.

There are no roads going in or out of Juneau, making it the only state capital inaccessible by cars.  All around the town is surrounded by nature, sitting snugly between Mount Juneau mount Roberts and the Gastineau Channel.  I thought about the blisteringly hot and humid New York July I left behind and flew to Seattle to begin my first Alaskan cruise. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I was enveloped in fresh clean air, which got cooler and more pristinely refreshing as we headed deeper into the state and it’s capital, named after prospector Joe Juneau in 1880.

When we woke up the second morning, there were dozens of mountains, and from the far distance, glistening glaciers, which grew absolutely enormous as our boat edged its way closer to the harbor.  My companions and I were booked on an excursion by a float trip on the spectacular glacier studded Mendenhall lake, passed the 2 1/2 mile long Mendenhall glacier, sighted some humpback whales and a number of Kodiak bear almost close enough to touch.  The city itself is fascinating, built by the gold rush, with lovely old buildings from that era. There is so much to see, just walking around on foot or taking a helicopter ride to experience the stunning beauty of the town and the surrounding jewels of nature.

The Juneau Douglass museum is a cornucopia of exhibits, relating to local history, the Indian heritage with totem poles, and a chronicle of the gold rush prospectors.

Love is the most powerful way to create profoundly tangible transformation in everyone who crosses our path. Yet we must be mindful to endow the self with pure, unconditional love and acceptance, which will result in an infinite fountain of empathy and joy, readily available to give others.