Subi & The 5

Alaska Ferry – Sitka, Alaska

Sitka, Alaska sits on the west coast of Baranhof Island and is only accessible by air or by sea. The town was under Russian rule from 1799 to 1867 and still retains Russian architecture. Alaska was purchased from Russian in 1867 and Sitka was the location for the transfer ceremony at Baranhof Castle. Sitka was the capital of Alaska until 1906 when it was relocated to Juneau.

Cruise ships do park in Sitka and flood the town but with only 14 miles or roads on the island it retains a small town charm and quaintness. It is a lovely place with cute shops, small food trucks, and packed with history.

We sailed about 11 hours from Petersburg overnight and arrived in Sitka around 10am.

We had almost 3 hours in port so we decided to head to town. The center of town is about 7 miles away so it was too far to walk in that amount of time. I contacted Sitka Tours and they said there would be bus at the ferry terminal which would take people to town and back form $10. We were out at the bus as soon as we arrived. The bus filled fast and as a matter of fact many people were left without being able to get on our bus. Sitka Tours quickly called another bus but our driver was very unsure if one would show up.

It was about a 15 minute drive from the Alaska Ferry terminal to Sitka and the driver provided an excellent narrative (in both directions) about Sitka, the history, the economy, what to see and do, wildlife, etc.

We were all dropped off by the public library and provided a time that he would return and pick us up. He carefully explained that he will NOT wait for stragglers as people NEED to get back to the ferry so they don’t miss it. If you are late then you need to find your own way back.

We knew the basic places we wanted to visit to so off we went to see St Michael’s Orthodox Cathedral and a few of the local shops.

We then proceeded past the Sitka Pioneers Home (built on an old Russian parade grounds, steeped with history and now an assisted living facility) and on to Baranhof Castle which is a State Historic Site up on a hill. The Castle site has steps on one side to get up the hill and a walkway ramp on the other side. It is your choice how you want to go up and down. There are interpretive signs on top and some great views.

While on the hill we noticed a bald eagle just sitting in the tree watching over the town.

The town, of course, is full of salmon stores, food trucks, and quaint shops. It is just an enchanting area.

There is a nice sized port, a few small charming hotels, a historic Russian Bishops House, and miscellaneous other charming buildings. The Russian Bishops House is only one of four Russian period buildings remaining in North America.

Before we knew it we were out of time so we headed over to the Public Library and shortly thereafter our bus driver appeared, on schedule, and got us back to the ferry just in time for departure.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Sitka. Next port of call is Juneau!!

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