Juneau, Alaska was the first port of call for this cruise. We started the morning at the local visitors center and received a good map of the area. We walked to the Juneau city bus depot and paid $2 for a ride to Fred Meyers.
That was not on our itinerary, but we ended up spending about an hour at the store getting Dayquil, Nyquil, cough drops, snacks and a few clothing items. John was feeling under the weather – specifically the cold, rainy weather of Seward yesterday.
After our shopping, we walked about 3/4 mile to the east on the main road to Juneau’s colorful Glacier Gardens and uphill to the entry. We had not purchased advance tickets, but bought tickets at the entry with 10% military discount, which included a tour through a portion of the Tongass National Park adjoining the gardens. The tour guide was knowledgeable and presented a lively commentary of the region, the gardens and the national park.
We were the only people on our golf cart tour and were able to really experience the area privately. At one stop on the tour, we were at a scenic viewing area for the entire city of Juneau along with the bay areas. When we returned to the main building, rain was much more than just a light shower so we headed to the cafe. We ate hot dogs, chips and sodas in the dining area. As we were requesting our taxi (gift shop staff called for a local company), we overheard discussion of a cruise ship tour group of 51 heading to the gardens. We were very happy about our choice to travel independent of the cruise excursions and that we had been rewarded with the privacy to enjoy and learn about the gardens.
Our taxi took us to Mendenhall Glacier and the site of the first US Park Service building in Juneau, Alaska. We took the photo shoot walk and explored the area around this glacier. On a better weather day, one could easily spend 2-3 hours in this park area. We walked along the bear watching area, but did not see any bears.
Juneau’s “Blue Bus/Glacier Express” offers an express ride back to the downtown area or cruise ship area (your choice of drop off location) for $8 pp. The city bus is also available for $2 with stops per their schedule but the pick-up location is about 1 mile walking distance from the National Park Service building.
After returning to the cruise ship, I set out on my own to explore the downtown shopping area. I found a couple of small parks, a quilting shop, and a bookstore. Those were interesting to me. The general tourist shops are plentiful, but I only browsed in a couple of them. My one regret was that when I turned back towards the ship, I was only a few blocks from the Russian Orthodox Church that I had intended to visit. We’ll have to check that out on the next trip to Alaska!
The Planes, Trains and Automobiles status: Plane trips = 3; train trips = 3, bus/shuttle trips = 4, taxi/car= 2, golf cart = 1