Fun things to do in Juneau!

Trip Start Apr 24, 2008
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Trip End Jun 02, 2008


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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Poppy: Well after the excitement of the glacier and the ice caves we weren't sure that anything else in Juneau could live up to that, how wrong we were! We started the day in style with another breakfast at the best diner in town-Matt's mountain of pancakes with strawberrys, cream, bacon and sausages (slightly odd combination!) was epic enough to require a photograph. We ate so much that we left there with a strong desire to do nothing more energetic than go back to bed but fortunately our lovely hostel chucked us out at 9am and was closed until 5pm so we had to find something else to do. We climbed onto the local bus (slightly apprehensive after our previous day's experience) and set off to DIPAC (Douglas Island Pink and Chum, also known as the local fish hatchery) ready and excited to learn all about fish and hatching and stuff (ok so we were running out of things to do in Juneau and it was one of the only things left but we were trying to be enthusiastic). Unfortunately when we got there it was closed......fortunately however we're not the types to be put off that easily! We wandered around the back, found the back door to the offices and let ourselves in! We found a very nice lady (she didn't seem at all surprised by our sudden appearance) who informed us that it wouldn't be open until 2pm when the cruise ship was in. Juneau's tourist industry revolves around the most monstrous and horrifically naff cruise ships which come into port daily from May to September, sometimes up to 7 a day, each disgorging several thousand tourists in matching outfits and ridiculous hats! This means that everything in Juneau runs on cruise ship time in the summer so stuff is only open when the ships are in (oh and generally it means that the locals hate tourists, they are pleasantly surprised though when they find out that you aren't from a cruise ship which is always nice)
It was now about 11am so we had several hours to kill, luckily enough we had a back up plan and it was a cunning one: the alaska brewery! The nice lady at the hatchery rang them for us to check they were open-we don't make the same mistake twice, ok, well quite often we do but not this time! We climbed back on the bus, asked the driver to tell us which stop to get off at and were a good way out of town when she told us we'd already passed it and she'd forgotten to tell us at the time! We got off the bus, crossed the road, got back on another bus (we love the Juneau buses!) and this time the driver did manage to tell us where to get off, just at the point where we were thinking that we weren't going to manage to do anything more productive with our day than ride the bus!
Our day improved rapidly when we arrived in the brewery and the first question they asked us was 'would you like to try some beer?' We debated whether to wait until the end of the tour (no I don't know why we didn't just say yes immediately, I think we were still disorientated from the buses) at which point they informed us that most people like to have a glass with them during the tour-it quickly became clear that this was going to be a good tour! Then an american version of Bill Bailey emerged (except with a better beard and moustache which he stroked thoughtfully when about to make a particularly important point) and took us through to the glass walled room where you could see the inside of the brewery-it turned out that this was the extent of the tour but we did get a fascinating (no really it was fascinating, the guy was brilliant, really funny but also very knowledgable about everything about beer) talk on how the beer was brewed, the history of the brewery and how they make all their different types of beer, including the coffee and jalapeno ales-bizzare but quite tasty. The tour would've been quite short but it was stretched out by the fact that we stopped about every 5 minutes for top ups (it was just getting better and better and I was getting happier and happier about the fact that I have suddenly started to like beer whilst out here-amazing!) and the tour guy had endless brilliant anecdotes ranging from how he started working at the brewery as a volunteer on days when they packaged the beer in return for nothing more than free beer and getting the bottles which didn't get their caps put on properly (it sounded like there were quite a few of those so I think he had a good deal!) to the beer fesitval he went to when he sampled 200 different beers in one day! He also told us how he no longer drank beer which wasn't overly surprising! Matt tried all 9 different beers on offer, Debs and I were slightly more restrained but generally we all enjoyed ourselves immensely and felt much more optimistic about our trip to the hatchery. We decided to give the buses a miss on our way back after our previous experiences! This proved to be a good decision when we came across the best playground ever (a proper castle with tube slides which were just a bit to small for us to fit in easily!) and spent several happy minutes making complete arses of ourselves in it!! We finally made it to the hatchery which was actually quite interesting, especially the touch tanks with starfish and crabs in them (none of us were brave enough to actually touch the crabs-they had really big claws!!) and massive aquariums with loads of cool fish, crabs, starfish and random sea creatures things in;cue more behaving like overexcited children, our speciality!
After all that excitement we just about mustered up the energy to make it back to the hostel, make some supper, try to do some research into where to go next (failing to make any productive decisions as usual) pack our stuff and fall into bed, safe in the knowledge we had discovered Juneau's highlights-the cafe and the brewery! (oh and the glaciers, icebergs and wildlife were quite good too!)
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