Juneau and Mendenhall Glacier – Alaska Day 3

Monday morning was our time to see whales. Dad and I woke up early and perched on our balcony the entire morning in search of some whales. We learned during the talk yesterday that this was one of our best chances to see whales during our cruise. That’s all we needed to hear, as dad and I got out our respective digital still cameras, dad’s HD Camcorder (1080i beeehotch), and some trusty binoculars.

We sat out there drinking coffee on and off for several hours, and I was the only one to see a whale (I saw two, but I mostly only saw the whale tails… and I’m not talking thong underwear). I was actually a little disappointed, because I was so focused on trying to get a photo of the whale that I didn’t even give myself a chance to appreciate the beauty in real life (thank god for photos!) We whale watched the rest of the morning (with a gluttonous stop at the breakfast buffet once again), and sat on the balcony up until the point the ship landed in Juneau for the day.

Since we were in for a long day of exploring Juneau, we decided to order some free lunch to our room before we left. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that you can order all kinds of great food to your room for free, 24 hours a day. Two Caesar salads and some sandwiches later, we were on our way into Juneau.

Getting off a cruise ship is chaotic, because you have all kinds of peddlers trying to get you to go on their tour or to buy their touristy products. The cruise line offers (and heavily promotes) several excursions that you can pre-pay for at any time. Unfortunately, these pre-paid excursions are heavily marked up, and you can do the same excursions for much cheaper if you wait until you get off the ship. We weren’t sure what we wanted to do for the day, so we decided to play it by ear.

Not 5 minutes after we got off the ship, we were approached by a Juneau our bus and we decided to hop aboard. This turned out to be a great decision.

The route of the bus took us through Juneau and the bus was driven and narrated by a man named Ben who came from a tribe native to Alaska. His family dated back over 10,000 years into the past (proven by DNA on an unfrozen body found 10 years ago). Ben was pretty awesome, and he gave us some solid information about the town of Juneau, as well as his ancestry.

Our first stop was across the valley from Juneau in a town called Douglas. From this stop, we were able to see an unobstructed view of our ship. It was truly massive!

View of the Golden Princess

Next stop was at a place called the “chapel by the lake,” which is a log sided chapel overlooking a beautiful lake. The back of the chapel is a huge wide-open window which overlooks the lake. In the background, you can see a few mountains and a glacier. It was pretty cool, and definitely would be an awesome place to get married… if it weren’t in Alaska that is.

Chapel By the Lake

After we wrapped up photos at the Chapel, our next stop was the highlight of the tour: the Mendenhal glacier. This is one of the major tourist attractions of Juneau, and rightfully so. It was beautiful! It was also very clearly visible from our vantage point (meaning that there was nothing blocking the view in the foreground). We took a few pictures and then decided to go on a hike to try and get an even better viewpoint, so we blazed our own trail to the glacier. There was also a massive waterfall near the glacier, so we wanted to photograph that as well. We noticed from far away that there were people who were actually standing right next to the waterfall. I really wanted to stand next to it as well, but it turns out that we didn’t have enough time to make it that far.

Waterfall near Mendenhall Glacier

Even though we didn’t make it all the way to the waterfall, we did make it close enough to take some awesome photos. The setting was perfect for great photos: mountains, blue skies, blue glacier, water, pine trees and glacier chunks floating in the water. This is my new desktop background and I hope to make it available in high-resolution for you to use as well (how conceited of me to think you would be interested in that!)

Mendenhall Glacier View

When the tour completed, we walked around the town of Juneau, playing the role of typical tourist and window shopping the various shops near the port. I hate shopping, so that lasted about 10 minutes before we got bored and went to get a beer at a local watering hole. The beer was great, and amazingly, the Twins were on TV as well!

Once the beer was gone, we made our way back to the ship. Before boarding, my dad wanted to get on a tram/cable car that took us 2,000 feet above Juneau. I didn’t really want to go, since it cost just as much as the bus tour that we just took and didn’t sound nearly as fun. Since I didn’t want to go and Jimbo did, he ended up paying for my ticket. It ended up being a double waste of money for him. The ride up was smooth, but the views weren’t really great. Everything was obstructed, so I didn’t get many photo ops. The best photo I got was a birds-eye view of our ship.

Golden Princess Birds Eyeview

After all of that, we decided to head back to the ship and get some dinner. I know I promised in the day 2 diary that I wouldn’t get into too much detail with the food references, but I must mention today’s meal, as it was great! I had several foods for the first time in my life, and I definitely will be trying them again. For an appetizer, I ordered the escargot. I wasn’t really sure what I’d think about eating snails, but my dad assurred me that they were very good. He was absolutely correct! Escargot is amazing! Basically, it’s these little snails in a slotted tray, drenched with a garlic sauce and topped with some cheese. I didn’t even realize that I was eating snails. I just thought I was eating awesomeness! Dipping some bread in the extra sauce is also highly advisable.

For the soup course, I had french onion soup. This is another new food item that I have had a few times recently. For those of you who haven’t had it, the real good french onion soup consists of onion soup with some bread soaked into it, and then a layer of cheese is baked onto the top of the cup. My grandparents turned me onto it a few years ago in Arizona, and I have been a fan ever since. It’s great!

For the main course, I tried another first; frog legs. These weren’t really that great, but they weren’t really that bad either. They really did taste like chicken! I also had some lamb chops, which were pretty solid as well. For dessert, I had raspberry Crème brûlée for my second Crème brûlée experience. It wasn’t as good as the other time I tried this dessert, but it was still pretty good.

I’m not even sure what we did after our late dinner, but all I know is that I was tired, full, and looking back fondly on my experience in Juneau.

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About Jeff Sauer

I started blogging in the year 2000, and go in spurts of inspiration followed by long dormancy. I love writing, and your comments keep me going, so comment!

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  1. What beautiful pictures! The cruise sounds great so far & so do the meals. Escargot-YUM! Your Dad is showing you some of the finer points in life 🙂 Looking forward to Day 4+

  2. Rick Knowles says

    Damn that ship is HUGE!

  3. kick ass photos! Juneau looks beautiful.
    Escargot…ugg, don’t know about that one! I don’t know if E would even try those!

  4. My great aunt lived in Juneau for many years. I never got to visit her there, but your pictures made me feel like I was there today. Thank you!

  5. Oh man, I am so jealous. The sites look awesome! I will add this cruise to my list of must do trips!

  6. escargot is yucky….no matter how much butter you drizzle on it…hehehehe
    it’s chewy….ewwwww.w……love love love the photos….

    {deep sigh}