We ware very lucky with the weather, early September 2004, a week of sunny days. The cruise started in Vancouver for the two of us, me and my wife. We visited three cities in Alaska: Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka and stooped for few hours at Hubbard glacier.
In Ketchikan we did snorkeling, yes, snorkeling in Alaska. The water was 16 Celsius (about 60 F), but our guides provided sponge costumes and hang some weights on us, enough to keep us few inches under the water, but still floating, the snorkelling pipe above the waterline. The idea was that after 2-3 minutes, if the body is submerged all times, the water in the costume will raise to body temperature and stay that way as long as the body does not float above sea level.
Sitka was beautiful, clean. The ocean with small islands around the city was breathtaking.
A touristic city where modern small shops and history combined beautifully. In the afternoon we saw a show, a group of ladies, performing Russian and local dance, very dynamic and nice choreography.
Juneau offered a selection of choices: fly with an airplane among mountains, land on a glacier with a helicopter, or race with inflatable boats down a river. We decided for the race in the morning, the river was actually a melting glacier.
In the afternoon we climbed all the way to the top of mount Roberts.
And here is a little story. On our way down, before reaching Juneau, we saw a tiny church on a hill. We entered. The priest was inside, a short and very welcoming aboriginal guy, all smiles. Our Romanian accent drew his attention. “What accent is that?”
What revelation waits for me now? I thought. Many times in our trips when we spoke our first language there were surprises. “Romanian.”
Always smiling, the priest pointed to a small painting on the wall. “Check that one.”
I approached and saw a picture of a beautiful crafted church with twisted towers that seemed familiar. “Seems familiar.”
“Well,” said the priest, “turn it and read on the back.”
On the back of the picture was written in Romanian, With love, Maria from Targoviste. And I remembered, it was a picture of one of the most famous church in Romania, Curtea de Arges.
I was impressed, but my first reaction was to ask about Maria. “Where is Maria?”
The priest was amused of my surprise. “I’ll show you.” And he made me a sign to join him at a window on the east side.
Both me and my wife approached. “You see,“ said the priest pointing a house on the opposite hill, “that red house is Maria’s house.”
“What is she doing in Juneau?”
The priest expected the question since he answered before I finished the question. “English teacher.”
All right. Our trip in Alaska was a wonder, and I encourage my readers to take it. Beautiful.