When I found out I was going to Alaska, the first place that was on my wish list to see was Sitka. Exoticly different little Sitka with all it's Russian onion dome buildings and it's Russian name and where the Alaska Purchase was signed by William Seward in 1867. So you'll understand my smidge of disappointment when, after a four- hour ferry ride past lush forests of pine trees and a tricky-to-navigate channel and then a school bus ride from the ferry to town, I found that there were only two buildings of Russian influence. And only one, St. Michael's Church, was of typical Russian architecture (the other being the yellow Russian bishop's house) I was even wrong about the word Sitka - it's not Russian but rather Tlingit, combining Shee and Atika meaning "on the outside of Shee (the island of which the city sits) But let's be clear here - it wasn't Sitka's fault but instead my own. I hadn't done much prior research and was basing my ideas all on just a few pictures I had seen.
So instead of finding a miniature Moscow in Alaska I found a town uniquely it's own. And it became the place where I did one of the coolest things I've ever done - kayak Sitka Sound. I learned about the people who came to visit Sitka, fell in love with it and never left. And those who buy one of the small islands in the sound and live off-grid. I learned that the reason that there aren't many fish items on local menus is that the fisherman get tired of it - they prefer to go out for a steak or a burger. And we went out for burgers with our kayaking guide and some first responders- and really learned about the people of a place.
And I visited Sitka National Historical Park with it's beautiful surrounding scenery and it's totem poles by the Tlingit people. And the clearing where the actual battle for control of Sitka took place between the Tlingit and the Russians. And it was one of the most interesting historical parks I've been to.
How about you? Have you been someplace that surprised - or disappointed you?
I'm linking up! Please visit: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and Weekend Travel Inspiration at Malaysian Meanders!