Day Three – A Day At Sea

roomviewAfter an unbelievable train ride from Anchorage to Seward, I boarded the ship called the Statendam. Since the price of this particular cruise went down a few bucks a few weeks prior to this trip, a room up-grade crowsnestwas offered, providing us a port-hole view of the outside world. As the ship left Seward Port at 8 pm on Sunday, it was time to get comfortable with the ship as all of Sunday night and Monday was spent sailing the high seas.  The top deck of the ship offered the Crow’s Nest, a bar with music that offered 360 views of Alaska 24/7.  There was easy access from the Crow’s Nest to the outside upper deck as well.

view of boat cruiseMonday morning started out with me checking out an using the workout facilities.  Hey, will all the food offered, it wasn’t a difficult decision to make.  Actually, during my early Monday morning run, I spotted my very first whale siting from the corner of my eye.  There were many more to come. From there, the day was spent finding where and when food was being served (and what kind), checking our each deck, and simply soaking up the sun on one of the many outside decks, looking out to the big blue sea at the mountains that were initially so far away.

oceanbarMy friends and I did stumbled upon the Ocean Bar Monday afternoon which offered a daily happy hour from 4-5, something that we took advantage of every day thereafter.  Dinner typically took place shortly after happy hour in the Rottendam Dining room where, as I promised myself, I ordered fish or seafood at every dinner.  By the way, I had fish at every breakfast too (usually herring and/or salmon).  I was in heaven. After a beautiful day at sea, it was necessary to get a good night sleep as Day Four of my Alaska Adventure was to Glacier Bay, one of the most unbelievable sites I have seen!


Day Two – Morning in Anchorage & Train Ride

imageDay two involved spending the morning at a local weekend market and festival in Anchorage.  The locals told us to go to Two Fat Guys to order the Mojo Loco, a scrambled imageegg breakfast with onion and potato that was delicious.  Could not resist trying a sample of salmon quesadilla which sounded gross but was good.  Sampled Chugach Chocolate (jalapeño flavored and habanero flavored, both delicious).  A lot of interesting characters including cute five month old doggie Smokey. We met Shannon who has been selling her ceramic pottery for ten years.  Bought some cute earrings from a guy whose mom makes them for fun.  She should charge more for her work but glad she doesn’t.

From there, caught the train at the Anchorage railroad station to take an amazing four hour ride to Seward vimageia the most scenic Alaskan route.  The train compartment offered comfortable seats and not only windows but essentially a glass ceiling for unrestricted views of mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, and wildlife.  We all had a few rounds of “Mosquitos”, a delicious vodka drink that will come back to bite you if you have too many!  All was good though.  We arrived to Steward and boarded our ship!  Set sail at 8pm.

Remote Locations Yield Poor Access

imagesMuch to no surprise, internet access on a cruise ship in the middle of Alaska is quite limited.  Honestly, what a wonderful perk of this trip as I am truly able to check out of the real world. slow down, breathe, and enjoy the beauty of this place.  There are many experiences to share but will have to wait when I can post my pictures….although here is a quick preview of the highlights of the first few days:

1. The train from Anchorage to our ship was an amazing 4 hour ride through some of the most beautiful scenery; if you can, make the effort to do this ride.

2. I have seen close to twenty whales in the ocean as we were approaching and cruising through Glacier Bay; that does NOT include the whale watching excursion yet to experience later this week

3. Speaking of whales, during breakfast on Tuesday, the ship took a very sudden and severe right turn to the point that many dishes fell from the tables in the main dining room.  The captain eventually let everyone know that he needed to use a lot of rudder to avoid colliding with a whale.  It was a little scary but all good.

4. According to the navigator, the weather during our cruise into Glacier Bay was uncharacteristically sunny, warm and wonderful.  I look at my pictures that I snapped with my iPhone and am amazed and the rich colors of blue.  It was a great day!

5.  So far, I have had fish and seafood at every meal, including breakfast.  My fellow cruise-mates think it is pretty “interesting” (i.e. interpretation “gross”) but as a Lithuanian, I love my herring and/or salmon first thing in the morning.

So, when I am able to get reliable access, I will offer you my daily adventures here in Alaska, leaving you with a quick thought:  if you ever considered doing an Alaskan cruise, I highly recommend it.


Day One Delta Delays Do Not Matter

imageSaturday, June 22  is officially Day One of my Alaska Adventure which involved spending the afternoon afternoon and evening traveling to Anchorage, Alaska. The flight itinerary involved flying from St. Louis to Minneapolis followed by a nearly 6 hour flight from Minneapolis to Anchorage.  Unfortunately, the flight from St. Louis to Minneapolis was delayed by 30 minutes, enough to cause problems in terms of getting to Alaska. Upon boarding the already delayed flight, mechanical issues further delayed the flight.  So, getting to Anchorage involved a lot more effort (and vodka)  than originally anticipated. I  finally made it to Anchorage,  landing at about 11:45 PM.

imageThe time difference between St. Louis and Anchorage is 3 hours with St. Louis 3 hours ahead of Anchorage. So, it was 3 AM in the morning “A.U. Time” when I got off the plane.  Since it is summer, it rarely gets dark.   The picture here is immediately outside of the airport at 12:30 AM.  According to the cab driver, this is about as dark as it gets in Anchorage this time if year.

Okay, so you get off a plane in Anchorage, Alaska at 11:45 pm and what does one do? Certainly there are no shortages of bars here including Tap Root,  Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse, Darwin’s Theory, and The Peanut Farm.  Some of us from this crazy group of nine went for a nightcap.  Some of us went to bed.  I wonder what A.U. did?

My Alaska Adventure

Alaska-Railroad-WebThis Saturday, I will be flying to Anchorage, Alaska to begin yet another chapter of A.U.’s Adventures thanks to my friend David Hoffman and the usual suspects in Kirk and Deb McCullen, and Beth McDonald.  These guys vacation together at least once a year and I was invited to join in on the fun! My Alaska Adventure will officially start Sunday, June 23 as I take a train from Anchorage to Seward via the scenic Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic route. Upon arriving to Seward, I will board Holland America’s ship The Statendam that evening for a 7-day southbound Glacier Discovery Cruise.

SONY DSCThe Alaskan cruise itinerary includes a scheduled visit to beautiful Glacier Bay for about half a day on Tuesday.  From there, the boat will dock in Haines for a full day followed by Juneau where an excursion has been booked for Whale Watching and Wildlife Quest. I guess hanging out with the elephants in Sri Lanka have turned me into a much braver nature/animal soul (although I am sure I will scream like a girl when I see Moby Dick).

Malaspina, traveling north from Auke Bay to HainesAfter hanging out with the whales, the next day will be spent in the city of  Ketchikan. Prior to arriving to the final destination of Vancouver, B.C., the ship will cruise through the Inside Passage all day on Saturday, June 29. Should be amazing. On Sunday, June 30 it will be time to catch a plane from Vancouver to St. Louis where the arrival time is at Zero Dark Thirty.  Hope to have my sea legs back by Monday! Bon Voyage and stay tuned for my updates!

STL Adventure 5 – Downtown & Near North

archThe Downtown and Near North section of St. Louis includes downtown St. Louis, Hyde Park, Old North St. Louis, and designated historic district of St. Louis Place. When I go to this part of town, it’s usually to watch Cards baseball, Rams football or Blues hockey. I have come to appreciate that there is more to the Downtown & Near North area.

crowncandyFavorite places for food and/or drink already experienced include Broadway Oyster Bar, Lucas Park Grille, Mosaic, Dubliner Pub, Lola, and Sidebar. I have always wanted to eat lunch at  Crown Candy Kitchen, a St. Louis tradition since 1913 and what better time than the present? Since I love bacon, I BLTdecided to order the Heart Stopping BLT, an unbelievable bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich on white toast with Miracle Whip (yes, a complete anti  Whole30 food item). As I starting biting into this piece of perfection, I happen to notice the back of the waitresses t-shirt which proclaimed the following: “This ain’t no health food store…“.  Made me laugh. By the way, crowncandy3I ate the entire damn sandwich including the pickle (minus the chips). Afterward, I had to check out the candy offerings and I could have easily bought a little bit of everything. Instead, I bought a dark chocolate peanut butter cup for later although the one scoop of chocolate-chocolate-chip ice cream on a sugar cone was consumed immediately. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this rare indulgence with absolutely zero regrets.

ballgameFor recreation, I typically gravitate to this part of town for a sporting event, usually a Cardinals baseball game. Recently, I had the opportunity to go to an international soccer match at Busch Stadium between Manchester City and Chelsea. It was an unbelievable experience from several perspectives. First, going to Busch Stadium to watch a sporting event other than a baseball game stlsoccer1was pretty cool. Second, the place was just as packed for this soccer game as it was when I watch the Cardinals win Game 5 and thereby clinch the World Series in 2006. Third, seeing Busch Stadium in a sea of blue versus the typical red  was quite the site to see. The atmosphere was electric, the game was amazing, and the evening made me feel very proud of this sport city.

citygarden-saint-louis-pink-suit-photo-linda-wiggen-kraft-blogSInce I mentioned there is more to do than sports in this part of town, I wanted to experience a “non-sport related” recreational activity and off to Citygarden I went. Citygarden is a park located in downtown, between 8th street to the east, 10th street to the west, Chestnut Street to the north, and Market Street to the south. What a cool place to explore art, landscaping, and design. There are nearly 30 different sculptures to check out, including Wurm’s Big Suit, Mitoraj’s Eros Bendato, Leger’s Femmes au Perroquet, and Yasuda’s cityDoor of Return. There is a free Citygarden iPhone App available that can be used with the GPS feature of your iPhone to enhance your experience exploring Citygarden. The App includes an Art Index that provides an audio description of each sculpture on display with a short bio of the artist.

leftbankbooksShopportunities are abundant in this part of town, particularly with the various boutiques and shops along Washington Ave and beyond. I ended up paying a visit to Left Bank Books on North 10th. For whatever reason, I love bookstores and spent quite some time exploring. Perhaps a little lame, maybe a bit boring, or just play uneventful in your minds but remember, I am A.U. and this is my adventure! Until next time, get out there and do something new and different!