Had to stop and take a photo of the Bucc-ee’s sticker all the way in Alaska! (Bucc-ee’s is a chain gas station/store in Texas that draws crowds of people when you stop at one. And super clean restrooms.)
Because we’d arrived in Juneau mid-morning we had until later in the evening before our ship left port and approximately four or five hours before we had to return to the ship to get on our tour bus for the whale watching tour. Our ship was docked at the furthest dock from town and thankfully the city/cruise ships have a deal to provide shuttles to the east side of town for tourists. I mean, it wouldn’t have been bad to walk for us but all of the older folks would have had a terrible time of it.
Once in town we were greeted with even more tacky jewelry shops as we approached town and I was hoping that the entire town wasn’t going to look like this. I had heard from a couple of friends that they enjoyed Juneau but my initial impression wasn’t great. We kept walking and it became a little less touristy. Junueau is a town that you cannot drive to from outside another area. There’s one main road that goes from Pt Bridget State Park on the north, down to Juneau and then to the village of Thane, and another road that goes over to Douglas Island, and of course some city roads around town, but otherwise you must arrive into Juneau via air or boat. And it’s the state capital! After seeing the size of Anchorage later I wondered why Juneau was still the capital after all these years. That said, without the government agencies and the tourist industry, Juneau would be an incredibly quiet place.
We popped into shops that were of interest to us, searching for unique gifts or art from local artists. There were still quite a bit of generic tourist shops and not a lot stuck out to us as worth stopping in until I got to Kindred Post to buy some stamps. They had a collection of unique gifts, stickrs, and postcards as well as being a postal/package drop off center. By this time we were starting to get hungry so we set off looking for something to eat. Every time we asked a local what would be good we would never get a satisfying answer like we had gotten in Ketchikan. Finally someone said that a nice place to sit by the water and eat might be at The Hangar on the Wharf. It was a pub-food type place but they had their version of salmon bisque and I was going to indulge! Chris got a salmon burger if I recall and I can’t remember what Forest ate—we might have tried to get him to eat chicken tenders. The view was pleasant with sea planes coming in and out from various tours so we got to enjoy watching them take off and land while we ate.
After lunch we walked back up to Heritage Coffee Roasting to get a coffee since my appetite for coffee was coming back. They had gelato and Forest and Chris splurged on dessert. By this time we needed to slowly make our way back to the ship, stopping in a few places I’d noted to pop back into on our way back. One place we stumbled across and hadn’t seen on the way in was Haa Shagoon, a gallery that had a sign up by the main road inviting tourists to get away from the generic crap and see some local art. It was a great shop and if I’d known it would have been of the few native art shops we’d find I would have bought more. I ended up buying just a pair of earrings but they are a favorite pair of mine now. Do stop in here when you come through Juneau!
I wish we’d had more time to see some of the more historic buildings in town, the governors mansion and other places like that, but we had whales to see!