Back to Alaska, Part 3!
Alrighty, I'm back...I've been gone. I've been lazy. I've been having, well, issues.
Nevertheless, when we last connected, your plucky adventurers - Mom and Me - were just about to hit Sitka, Alaska. According to the Pitter Patter...
Wait. I haven't told you about the Pitter Patter.
Each night, the cruise line put out a newsletter about what was coming forth on the coming day. Mostly, it was filed with advertising ("Now's a great time to get aromatherapy for $299!"), but it also listed what movies were to be played, what bad pseudo-musicals were happening, where you could go to play Trivia. It's formal name was the Princess Patter, but we quickly renamed it to the ...
Pitter Patter. Anyway, according to the Pitter Patter, Sitka was a Tlingit (pronouced kling git) indian village until the Russians arrived in 1799, when general unpleasantness between the two groups ensued, what with the Russian claim that the land (i.e., the fur-bearing animals) were theirs and their access to warships and firearms. Because we only had about 7 hours to spend there, Mom and I signed up for a Russian-American history tour that included a jaunt to the totem pole park. So, we get with our group to be ferried to shore and wait. Our tour group was somewhat interesting as it included the loudest woman in the world, Lorraine. She sort of hooked up with the Jones-Brown chicks, probably because we were closest to her age, everyone else on our tour being about 103. We get on the boats (tenders) that took us to shore, got off the tenders and then boarded the nastiest, smelliest school buses anywhere, where our guide - a 20-something blonde surfer dude from California - proceeded to drive us about three blocks to the Russian Orthodox Church in the center of town. We were given 20 minutes to look around, which turned out to be plenty - especially as we weren't allowed to touch or photograph anything in the church. So we went in, spent five minutes looking, and then went outside and got ourselves a reindeer dog.
The dog was quite excellent. A bit drier than a regular hotdog, it had a somewhat spicy finish. It cost $4.50, so mom and I shared one as we didn't have enough cash and the stand-worker was freaked out by our Traveller's Check.
Anyway, we got back on the bus and were driven three more blocks back to the harbor to view the Russian-American dancers - all of whom were women and none of whom were Russian. They were just interested in Russian folk dancing and decided to start a troop. Fun. We got to spend 30 minutes there.
Then we got on the bus and drove about half a mile to the totem pole park, which was described as just a taste of what we would find in Ketchikan. So I hiked around and basically played out on the shore - the tide was out and I was amused at some teenage boys who were teasing crabs, only to get their comeuppance through a quick crab-pinch. I also enjoyed the gift shop, which had a solid block of tea for sale. Damn, it was so fragrant. I almost bought it, but it was $20, and really, it was just tea. I did gather up a curl of cedar from a totem pole being carved on sight and a bunch of rocks. Fabulous gifts, I must say.
Well, we got 45 minutes there and back into town. We had some time, and so we decided to explore, finding an excellent soap and jam shop and then of course looking for t-shirts. And that is where I fell foul of the un-Savvy Traveller.
What's that, you say? I've heard about that before. Yes, dear readers, you have. One night on the ship, when I was going to make some changes to a tour we were going to take, I ran across Evil Erika, cruise line shopping expert (yes, they employ a shopping expert). She accosted me. Was I going to be shopping on shore? Well, yes, I actually was. I was afeard that the jacket I brought wasn't going to be warm enough for Glacier Bay so I decided to buy a nicer jacket. Well, Erika could help me! Here, get this coupon book for $20. It has tons of coupons for free stuff, including a 15% discount at Brennen's, the best place to get a jacket in Sitka. Well, ok.. free stuff and a coupon. Sign me up! So, I haul this book with me into Sitka and head to Brennen's.
What crap. I have never payed $300+ for a coat in my life, let alone a thin, useless coat. So, I didn't use my coupon. And actually, I never used a single coupon from the un-Savvy Traveller, as it was really only useful for people who want to spend big bucks on bling. Which I don't. Live and learn.....
Anyway, I eventually got a very nice knit sweater at a shop not associated with the un-Savvy Traveller, and Mom and I had a little dim sum dumpling snack at a local hole in the wall, decided we were tired of the rain, and headed bacck for the ship, preparing to head for Juneau!