Friday, September 18, 2015

Alaska in the Eyes of a Dutch Intern

Our colleague, Maaike, originally worked with us as an intern and has since returned. Here, she shares her first impressions as a student from Holland.

In March 2012, my big adventure started: six months working in Alaska. Coming from a country fully packed with cities and people - and as flat as a quarter - Alaska is a whole new experience. I immediately felt welcome because of the warm and kind people. Everybody was thrilled to show off the beautiful state they live in and their exciting stories.
There are so many things to do here. I went fishing for salmon and halibut on the Kenai Peninsula, did flight-seeing in floatplanes, went on cruises where I saw glaciers and sea life, I went searching for bears at Katmai National Park and did several hikes in different places. Every excursion was amazing and showed me Alaska in a different way.
The best thing about Alaska is that everywhere you go, you will have different views. It never gets boring. From the Kenai Peninsula with the beautiful views over the ocean, surrounding mountains and volcanos, to the majestic mountains north from Anchorage, including Denali, there is always something new to see. That’s not even mentioning about all the wildlife you can see here.
Alaska made me appreciate nature and outdoors, like no other country could do. It has a place in my heart and I will never forget the memories I made here. I wish I could show this place to all my friends and family, so they will understand why I fell in love with Alaska.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fall in Love with Alaska

If you are looking for a quick romantic getaway this fall, put Alaska on your list. Airlines often offer great specials for travel in the fall, making Alaska a perfect fall vacation destination. Anchorage is just a 3-hour flight from Seattle or 5-hours direct from Chicago. Why not get off work and fly to Alaska for your next romantic getaway?

Enjoy your first night in Anchorage at one of our downtown hotels, with several offering spectacular views of Cook Inlet and the Chugach mountains.  After September 15, many of our hotels offer reduced rates throughout the autumn and winter. Downtown Anchorage has four 4-star hotel properties, all with fine dining options and comfortable accommodations. Indulge yourself without making a dent in your pocket book.

After a relaxing breakfast, take a two-hour drive north through the Matanuska Valley to the quaint community of Talkeetna. Talkeetna, which means “River of Plenty” in the local Dena’ina language, is nestled on the confluence three rivers. A short walk down Main Street to the riverbank will reward you with breathtaking views of Mt. McKinley and the surrounding Alaska Range. At over 20,320 feet, Mt. McKinley towers above the surrounding peaks. Flightseeing tours to Mt. McKinley are offered year-round from Talkeetna. The Sheldon Amphitheater, Ruth Glacier, and the Great Gorge will take your breath away. Some have described these flights as life-changing. Others come to Talkeetna in the fall for late-season silver salmon fishing. Guided fishing trips are available from Talkeetna up until September 30th. In the “off season,” weekend train service on the Alaska Railroad provides an alternative to driving.

Along with its stunning views, Talkeetna is known for its hospitality. Enjoy all the comforts of home and modern amenities in a private cabin in town or near the river at Susitna River Lodge. Private cabins are a great option for those seeking the service and amenities of a hotel, but in a scenic and intimate setting. Some properties offer kitchens and BBQ grills for those wishing to “dine in.”

Speaking of dining, Talkeetna has several great options to entice your palette. Open year-round, the Talkeetna Roadhouse has been serving breakfast and lunch to travelers and locals for over 75 years. Their baked goods are out of this world. For dinner, take a stroll over to the Twister Creek Restaurant for some birch glazed Alaskan halibut or beer-battered Alaskan cod. Twister Creek is owned by the award-winning Denali Brewing Company. The brewery is on-site and offers up to 10 beers on tap throughout the year.

After a night or two in Talkeetna, it is time to continue on your journey. Drive southeast to Palmer, in the heart of the Matanuska Valley. The surrounding 5,000 foot peaks of the Chugach and Talkeetna mountains tower above the city of Palmer. Hatcher Pass, a favorite local hiking destination, is just 12 miles from town. Visitors and locals alike enjoy the stunning mountain views from Hatcher Pass. Blueberries, crowberries, and cranberries are easily accessible for picking along the hillside when in season. Cranberries are usually ripe through late-September.

After a day of exploring the Matanuska Valley, it is time to wind down for the night. One of Southcentral Alaska’s best kept secrets is Knik River Lodge. Just 50 miles north of Anchorage, Knik River Lodge offers private cabins with deluxe bedding and modern touches like flat screen TVs. The restaurant onsite offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a unique setting. Nearby trails offer incredible views of the valley and Knik Glacier.  

Whether for a short romantic getaway or a longer adventure, Alaska is the perfect place to visit in the fall. Visit our website or contact us at to plan your custom trip to Alaska.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How Much Does It Cost to Visit Alaska?

An Alaska vacation is within the reach of all travelers, regardless of budget. The cost of traveling in Alaska varies considerably, depending on the time of year, the mode of transportation, the type of accommodations, and which activities you choose.

The least expensive time to visit Alaska is during the winter.  We recommend the months of December – March. This is a great value season where you can go skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing through Alaska’s pristine wilderness. It is also the best time to view the Northern Lights (also known as the Aurora Borealis). If you stay in a moderate hotel and take a few local tours, you can estimate about $150 per person per day, based on double occupancy. However, if you take a scenic flight or stay at an all-inclusive remote lodge, for instance, you would need to increase your budget to about $500 - $700 per person per day.

Summertime (June – August) is the  most popular and most expensive time to visit. A 7-night cruise will cost anywhere from $500 per person to $5000+ per person, depending on the type of cruise ship, travel date, and the type of stateroom.

Land tours with 3-star hotels, train travel, and popular day tours generally cost around $300 per person per day, based on double occupancy. If you prefer to have nicer accommodations and travel aboard the glass domed train, it would be about $350 per person per day.

Self-drive tours with a rental car, moderate hotels, and a few excursions are usually a bit less expensive at around $225 per person per day. With nicer hotels and roadside lodges, it is approximately $275-$350 per day.

Alaskan lodges provide an exclusive experience in Alaska’s remote backcountry. The lodges each have a different focus, such as bear viewing, fishing, or just getting away from it all. Most lodges are located off of the main road system and are accessible only by plane or boat. The majority of these lodges will provide a more personalized, all-inclusive experience where all meals and some guided activities are included with your stay.  Although prices vary depending on the location and level of service provided, you can expect to spend about $500-$1500 per person per day for the unique wilderness experience offered only by an Alaskan wilderness lodge.

For those on a tight budget in the summer, camping is a great option. Bring a tent or rent one in Anchorage, rent a car, and explore Alaska on your own. We recommend taking a few tours, like a glacier cruise or rafting trip, to get the full Alaskan experience. Public use cabins are another inexpensive way to stay in Alaska, but reservations fill up early, so you’ll need to plan well in advance to stay in the most popular cabins. RV camping is another fun way to see Alaska, but renting a motorhome usually ends up costing about the same as staying at a hotel.

Traveling during the “shoulder season” in late May or early September, the price of an Alaska tour is about 10% less than the peak summer prices.

Please keep in mind that these are rough estimates and do not include your flights to Alaska or meals. If you are a solo traveler, costs would be higher than the double occupancy estimates above. If there are three or four people sharing the cost of the rooms, then your prices would be lower. Children ages 11 and younger are also usually less expensive than the adult rates.

Please contact us at to get a price quote on your Alaska vacation!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Springtime in Alaska!

Here we are in early May coming closer to the end of what Alaskans know as “break-up”. Although not found on Wikipedia, breakup for Alaskans means the winter coat of snow is melting quickly and ice is beginning to “go out” of lakes and rivers. This process typically moves along quickly and is often measured by the annual Nenana Ice Classic, Alaska’s annual contest where participants buy tickets to guess when the Nenana River ice, near Denali National Park, breaks free from the land. Sort of gambling Alaska style where several non-profit organizations shared the proceeds with the lucky guessers. This year’s jackpot is $338,062 so not a bad payoff!

Good luck to everyone who has entered, and let’s hope for an easy breakup!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Dining in Alaska - The best food and drink in downtown Anchorage!

A fast track guide to restaurants and bars that friends, work colleagues, and I happen to enjoy. Chances are with a busy holiday schedule in a place the size of Alaska – there isn’t too much time to experiment. So, hopefully we can help point you towards a pint, pizza or a memorable meal in a good restaurant. Obviously in a city like Anchorage there is a wide choice of venues and places to discover – so wherever you end up, cheers and ‘bon appetite’!

Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria
High on our list of fun places to visit. What we love is the buzz, it’s noisy, busy and staggeringly popular and operating with endless energy. Want to feel the pulse of Alaska? This is a good place to start. Evenings are best and even if you have wait for a table (no advanced reservations) the bar is fun and makes the wait worth while. Beer drinkers will be delighted with fifteen or more different Alaskan beers to choose from. Goes to show just how the microbrew industry has changed the pub scene (for the good). My top three; Pipeline Stout, Polar Pale Ale, Fairweather I.P.A. And the pizza’s are great! Combined with super friendly ambiance, MT is a must visit. Check out the menu, find the location and do your own beer research online ! Appealing to the outdoor crowd - it seems most diners are just about to climb Alaska’s tallest peak, raft a raging, white water river or talk about their latest North Pole ski trip! Curious name? The owners are climbers and Moose’s Tooth is a 10,300 ft granite pimple on the side of Mt McKinley. Check out sister restaurant Bear Tooth Theatre Pub.( You gotta love like this place – set in an old movie theatre – you take your food and watch a classic! Seen the movie before? No problem – The Grill and bar is the place to go. Usually packed, it has a great buzz and definitely where the locals go. Website tells you all you need.

Glacier Brewhouse
Just round the corner from our office – we know it well! And more importantly we reckon you might like to as well. The restaurant’s popularity with summer visitors is clearly evident with dinner reservations recommended. The brewery forms the backdrop of the restaurant and is the ultimate in steel artwork! Found on 5th Avenue in the heart of the city, The Brewhouse is easily reached on foot from most downtown hotels. Keep it mind for a good lunch if you are sightseeing or walking the coastal trail. Holidays are thirsty work, and the beer is so good they got a telephone number to equal it - 274 BREW. We recommend the food and the creative menu offers a pleasant Alaskan / West Coast focus. Menu and prices are online By the way the best show in town are the chefs working with flames and flair in the open kitchen. Fun, friendly, good value, relaxing atmosphere and the pleasant young staff make this a fixture on our list.

Orso Ristorante
Fine dining with a warm, intimate atmosphere. Situated next door to Glacier Brewhouse (same owner) this restaurant offers a completely different experience. It is quiet, romantic and with a subtle ambiance. The décor is Italian and the food is Italian / Mediterranean. An out of date website does it little justice (due for serious surgical attention). Their excellent wine list is one of better to be found in the city. Romantic? Yes, definitely “third date and thereafter” is how it was explained to me! Apparently two corner tables upstairs receive the majority of those epic lines like “I love you darling” and other endearing indicators on a very regular basis! The food is Italian with a Mediterranean flair that clearly manages to encompass Alaska in the nicest of ways. It’s special, memorable – and even if you don’t have a few epic love lines up your sleeve – you’ll have a darned good evening here.

Sacks Café & Restaurant
Sacks is well established and something of an Anchorage institution. After 24 years in the city’s downtown business / shopping district, Sacks has developed a strong reputation and distinct and enviable image. Interior style is warm, chic and cosmopolitan. Menus, are in a word – creative. Check out a good example of how restaurant menus should look – clear and concise. Knowing the restaurant it’s interesting how the online menu accurately portrays your dining experience (straightforward text, honest, no fluffy descriptions). As they say, an innovative dinner menu with knockout appetizers, salads and entrees. Wine list is comprehensive (won Wine Spectator award of excellence) plus good selection of beers. Recipe pages I like and particularly links to their archives. With file cabinets crammed full of creativity this section could be expanded. One of the best places to dine downtown and what’s more it’s not too noisy so you can talk normally with friends. Easy to find on G street (between 3rd & 4th Ave) in the heart of the city centre.

Simon & Seaforts Saloon & Grill
By most accounts, best seafood restaurant in Anchorage. Long established (1978) and popular with locals and visitors alike. Almost everyone I know loves going to ‘Simons’ now and again. Views from the dining room (Cook Inlet) are stunning. For a real ‘Wow’ on a clear evening plan for a latish dinner to get the summer sun in the right place and watch it slowly setting over ‘The Sleeping Lady’ mountain. Yup, reservations are important, so don’t forget. To the meat and potatoes of the blog; fish is what Simon & Seaforts is best known for; Alaska King Crab, fresh Copper River salmon and halibut are the best sellers. Over a period of years I have eaten here many times and have rarely been disappointed (if only they would serve piping hot coffee). The menu reads temptingly well The bar is fun, large with a good atmosphere, magnificent views and has on average 12-15 Alaskan brewed beers on tap. Unlike the microbrew guys, Simon’s draw from a wide range of Alaskan brewers – so a decent variety is available to try. The wine list is comprehensive. I personally enjoy wines from the Pacific Northwest and the Oregon Pinot Gris goes well with Alaskan seafood dishes. It’s downtown, easy to find, easy to park – in fact close to where Captain Cook managed to find free ship parking in 1784.

Side Street Expresso
Easily our favourite coffee shop. Found on G Street between 4th + 5th Avenue. ‘Side Street’ is a real gem. Run by George and Deb, they are the friendliest people and serve a great cup of (steaming hot) coffee. So different from those large, coffee house mega-chain places, Side Street is the real thing – with local artwork on the walls, animated conversations at wooden tables and lots of locals. It’s the sort of old fashioned place that every time the door opens and closes in winter – a cloud of steam puffs out into the atmosphere! And around lunchtime if all you want is a bowl of soup and a bagel – this is the place. Website? Who needs one, when everyday George draws a cartoon that sits on the counter, in front of the old chrome coffee maker.

Humpy’s Great Alaska Alehouse

Their website tells the whole story This place is fun, very central, pleasantly noisy, young crowd and if you like burgers and beers it’s definitely for you. My favourite? Can’t resist their halibut burger and chips. Live music features quite often, check website for who’s playing when you are in town.

Snow City Café
Voted best breakfast / best brunch restaurant by the local paper three years in a row – so chances are these people are doing something right in the kitchen. With a strong, local clientele it’s a great place to drop by for a leisurely breakfast. When I can, I enjoy a weekend visit and order something from their ‘Good Morning Sunshine’ breakfast menu (available with draft Guinness!!). As they’d say in New York “Ya gotta love the crowd, rustle of newspapers, aroma of hot coffee and more creativity with eggs than most of us could imagine possible”! Sounds sheer madness, but over past winters I, along with friends seem content to queue outside in twenty degrees below zero temperatures just to get a seat. The enterprising menu also features some excellent (and recommended) vegetarian dishes – all of which can be found on their website Located in the centre of Anchorage on 4th Avenue, almost next door to the Captain Cook Hotel.