Posts on Alaska were pending. Alaska was one of the places that I badly wanted to visit. We wanted to visit Alaska in March this year but since the ticket prices were sky high and most of the lodges were full, we decided to postpone the trip to later part of the year. In US, I have seen most of the famous places/parks but let me tell you this. Alaska is probably the most beautiful state in US. I found it more scenic compared to Hawaii. Imagine this coming from a person who went gaga over Hawaii.
Coming to the trip, I am going to write a series of posts on Alaska. To begin with, we took a flight to Anchorage. Lot of people have asked me why we chose not to take a cruise. We wanted to explore Alaska on land this time. And we did not have 10 days of vacation available. We got to drive on those scenic roads, enjoy the majestic mountains and tundra because we chose to drive. I did some elaborate planning for this trip and this was probably the most difficult trip to plan so far.
This was the itinerary for our Alaska trip:
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We could not see anything from the plane since it was too cloudy. There was a thick cloud spread over the entire area. It was very cold when we got out of the airport. Anchorage airport is pretty weirdly structured with rental cars located below the airport in a corner. Had a tough time finding the rental car.
We headed towards the Anchorage Native Heritage Center. This is a great place if you want to know more about the native people of Alaska. Dance performance was just over when we went so we went on to take a self guided tour. There are so many Eskimo native tribes that I did not know about. It was interesting to see their wooden houses. Most of these houses were built such that the entrance is through some sort of a tunnel or there is an opening in the roof with a ladder to get into the house. We also saw some tools used by them to kill animals or tear their skin. Most interesting part of the tour was seeing totem poles.
Some of the Alaskan tribes are : Athabascan who were nomadic, Yupik and Cupik who lived along the coast, Unangax and Alutiq who were maritime people, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian who lived on the Northwest coast.
Once we came back to the center, we saw a demonstration of some of the Eskimo Olympic games. The last dance show for the day was at 4 PM. The dance performance was great with dances from various tribes in Alaska. Most of them were high school students working at the center to earn some extra credits. One of the girls who performed, gave us some more information about the various tribes in Alaska. The gift shop in the center was great but everything was pretty pricey. I got a book on native cultures of Alaska.
We then went to the 4th avenue marketplace which is a good place to buy native arts and crafts. Unfortunately everything was closed except for one shop which had some native crafts. I bought few stuff like totem pole. The Anchorage museum was closed by the time we came to downtown. Native arts gallery was also closed. By 5 in the evening, most of the shops had closed down.
We just strolled around downtown Anchorage for sometime. This city looks just like any other big city in US. In Hawaii, we saw that even the biggest town looked like a village.