Juneau, Alaska

Juneau, Alaska 150 150 Sarity Gervais

It’s hardly a skip and a jump from Budapest, Hungary to Juneau, the capital city of the furthermost state in the USA.

I may be a difficult person to please when it comes to weather. Either too cold or too hot and humid: seems I’m only totally comfortable when it’s crisp and warm, no humidity nor mugginess, but blue skies and sunshine, with the temperature at a comfortable, 60-75 Fahrenheit.

So here I am, in New York, where we just made it through an endless, bitter winter. It is June, and the weather keeps fluctuating between cold windy and miserably dark, to humid heat waves. I find myself sweating and uncomfortably hot and my mind goes to the trip to Alaska, where Kosherica vacations is headed later this month (the 21st to be exact) and then again, in August, aboard the Pearl, of the Norwegian Cruise Lines.

In fact the first thing which comes to mind is that in Juneau, on June 21st happens the coolest thing: The day of the "Midnight Sun", the longest day of the year. 18 hours and 18 minutes of daylight, and in an anomaly for most of the world, the sun never really sets. It just dips gently below the horizon, and hovers there its glow illuminates the Alaskan sky until dawn a few hours later. Luckily, the ship arrives in Juneau just 24 hours past this and even while at sea on the first day of the trip, heading toward Juneau, one could catch some of this Eternal Sunshine. Certainly, by early morning of the 23rd, passengers will still be able to partake of this phenomenon.

So on to the arrival in the port of this place, where natural beauty abounds, mingling with so much to do and see the day will be filled with activity.

On the docks, passengers are greeted by Alaska’s most famous and beloved canine citizen, Patsy Ann. Her statue sits, smiling expectantly at the arriving crowds. There is a legend around this dog: in the 1930s, a dentist bought the American Bull Terrier for his two young daughters, but the restless Patsy Ann kept running away, wishing to mingle with people. She was stone deaf from birth, yet would stop whatever she was doing well before a ship was about to dock, and run to greet the passengers.

Mayor Goldstein dubbed her The Official greeter of Juneau Alaska in 1934. She was more famous than Rin Tin Tin and her image adorned post cards and curios all over. She’d bring food to her countless canine friends, a smile to the faces of visitors and locals alike. She carried on her duties as "greeter" with dignity, honesty and devotion until her death in 1942.

Well, then there is whale watching, snow-capped mountains, the famous Mendenhall Glacier of which I wrote in a recent blog, ice caves, bear habitats and incredible, fresh natural beauty.

The local historic downtown is epic, and full of tales from the days of the Gold Rush. Just grab a map upon arrival at the visitor’s information kiosk, located at Centennial Hall, and decide which of the highlights you wish to visit. The whole area is within walking distance and is full of fascinating things to see. South Franklin is the city’s most famous thoroughfare where you can see historic buildings, with great stories behind them, all of which are described in the brochures.

On Front Street, which was the water edge at high tide and Seward Street you can see some of Juneau’s most important historic sites, including a life sized bronze brown bear, (corner of Seward and Third) just to give you an idea of the size of these creatures. (Re: my blog on wildlife in Alaska)

The whole area is full of things to see and marvel at, especially for the history buff.

The Alaska State Museum and the Federal

Building are fun, with their exhibits of Native Art and of course The Governor House, which hosted celebrities like Charles Lindbergh, Sir George Eastman of Eastman Kodak, Thomas Lipton of the tea empire and Gerald Ford among many more.

A large and beautiful Totem Pole outside, commissioned in 1939, tells the story of the mosquito’s origins.

This is just a taste of all that you’ll find in Juneau. If you enjoy it half as much as I did, you’ll be talking about this visit for a long time, with the excitement of someone who just took a trip back in time.

Click here for information on our Kosher vacations.