Thursday 9 September 2010

Day 13 – Ketchikan You Guess Tonight’s Origami Animal?

It was another early start aboard the ms Rotterdam as our port of call was only a morning stop. The boat got in to Ketchikan at 7am this morning and we managed to drag ourselves ashore before 8am. No easy feat at this point! Plus, our luck with the weather ran out today, no wonder it’s dubbed the ‘capital of liquid sunshine’!

We started out by visiting Creek Street, a boardwalk once infamous for being full of brothels. Dollys is now the only building still set up to look like one, but we skipped the tour as one brothel visit this trip is probably more than enough; plus it looked a lot more tacky and less authentic than the Oasis in Wallace, ID.
The rest of the buildings on the street are now aimed at the tourist market, selling the same crap every other shop has been selling in all the towns we’ve visited this week. The only interesting thing there really was the salmon that were trying to swim up a pretty vicious stream, but after five days in Alaska even salmon are starting to bore us.
Finding no interest in the stores around town, we decided to head off to something less commercial and more our scene. On the way to the bus stop (yep, we spent $5 on public transport instead of the $90 it would have cost us for a tour!) we discovered a cool little alleyway with some cute graffiti. Must be Alaska’s answer to Banksy!
The 30 minute bus ride to Totem Bight taught us that Ketchikan is kinda an ugly, grey town...and not just because it started chucking it down with rain. Despite being unsuitably dressed we ventured into the Historical State Park that is, ironically, a rainforest – how appropriate! There was a tour going on at the time, so we tagged onto that and listened to the history of the totem poles. A little old lady from California even shared her umbrella with me. Who says you don’t get something for nothing these days?
As the bus only runs once an hour, we left the tour early and went about exploring on our own to step up the pace. The park wasn’t very big and there were only 14 totems total - all of them replicas - but they were very cool designs and not something you see everyday.
Arriving back in town the rain was still being a nuisance, so we chose to get back on the boat early. As soon as we stepped aboard the ships alarm started blaring and we heard on someone’s walky-talky that there was smoke coming from the A deck. Yikes! I think we weren’t supposed to be privy to this information as seconds later a voice came over the PA telling us all to ignore the alarm as there was a drill happening. The staff didn’t seem to be aware of this though, especially when they were told to go to the lifeboats just as lunch was due to be served!
At one point I turned a corner to find one member of staff dress completely in a firemans uniform, extinguisher and all…slightly unnerving. But 15 minutes later things were back to normal. Lucky we were still docked I guess! Being that we didn’t get burnt or have to abandon ship, we got a pretty good view of downtown from the top deck of the ship, but overall we didn’t think much of Ketchikan.
I think the problem was that by this third port of call you start to realize a lot of what cruising is about is trying to sell the passengers stuff, from the overpriced tours to anything they can stick the word Alaska on, but the worst is the jewellery. Oh the jewellery. Sure I bought some jade jewellery, but everything is 'buy this diamond' or 'that diamond'…after a while it gets too much and you lose the sense of what the town is really like. Sitka at least tried to hang onto its roots a little, but Ketchikan, much like Juneau, caters to the influx of cruising tourists. Perhaps we’re finally missing being on the road…

We spent the afternoon chilling at sea and I finally got my naked Ryan Reynolds as ‘The Proposal’ happened to be on TV. What a coincidence!
Tonight was the last formal night of the trip. At least this time we didn’t get dressed up for nothing!
And if you guessed tonight’s origami animal would be an elephant, you’d be correct!
So, until tomorrow…

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