"My 2 Alaskas" Top 5 Page for this destination Anchorage by PA2AKgirl
Anchorage Travel Guide: 818 reviews and 1,480 photos
I lived in Alaska a couple years ago so when we were moved here, I figured it would be easy to get back into the Alaska mindset. If you've read my Sitka page, you know that I can't say anything bad about that town or even really, the Southeast.
But Anchorage can be a tough city to love and one people love to hate. You constantly hear about the city being 20 minutes from Alaska (meaning "real Alaska") and I arrived with that mindset. We moved here in the middle of winter, left for the summer and came back just in time for another, and much worse, winter. When I hear the police sirens, the bass from people's cars, fight traffic, see homelessness and pass horribly dilapidated trailer parks, I think it is just like other American cities that don't hold my interest. Then, on our way to the grocery store, moose are eating along the road. When you go to a gas station or a restaurant, strangers are so friendly to you. When it's nice out, people are riding their bikes or walking everywhere. During spring, the trash that was hidden in the layers of snow is cleaned up, yards are getting green, flowers are planted and people are in great moods. The city awakens, the frustation from the bitter cold is gone, the days are incredibly long and summer is just around the corner. Time to celebrate.
I'm not going to lie. Winter is tough for me. I realized that I could either let it get to me or be a bit tougher. I ended up with a combination of both. I had days where I hated this city and Bobby insisted people should not have inhabited such a place. Going outside was always a production and I cursed the news reporters when they said they didn't like the temperatures getting up to freezing. I cursed the days when the sun went down in the middle of the afternoon, the clouds when it was going to snow and the clear days when it meant it wouldn't get above 5F/ -15C. Then with the snow comes silence, with the clear skies comes the aurora and with the extreme cold comes...well, nothing good. I tried. I really hate winter. <---update (Nov 29th 2007): this winter hasn't been bad at all. the snow fell late, it melted and now it's only a little cold:)
Spring is wonderful. You see rain for the first time in months, birds coming back, moose finally getting the chance to eat grass rather than branches, and best of all, you can finally make small trips. Then you realize Alaska doesn't really cater to Alaskans or those of us who moved here--it caters to the tourists. Normal getaways have few things open outside of summer. But it's quiet and a good escape from city life. It does make me realize that I'm pretty lucky because Anchorage does NOT shut down. It stays open year-round.
Summer is what most tourists know. They arrive on ships, on planes, in cars and RVs. They slow down traffic and act like moose can't hurt them as they stand right in front of one who can easily total an SUV. But, bless them because they give us more opportunities to see this state.
Autumn is beautiful...trees change, birds migrate, bears get ready to hibernate, tourists leave, things shut down in other places, and the city settles in for another winter. Damn, that was quick.
At first, Anchorage seems like nothing more than a city built with little planning. It's spread out and if your first look is from the airport into town, you see houses and apartments mixed in with strip malls. Then you head downtown and you get to see that the way it's laid out does make sense in a way. The downtown is well defined and though we have no towering skyscrapers (for earthquake reasons), it has a personality of its own. The only mark I can give for poor planning is to that of the road system. It is congested and confusing at first but once you get the hang of it, it too makes sense and only remains frustrating. Of course, there are a few other "cons" about Anchorage--like how loud it is sometimes. But these cons are used when comparing this city with the rest of Alaska and I'm realizing that you cannot do that. You also cannot compare it to the rest of the US--this is a city all its own.
You can either pass through complaining about how such a city shouldn't be in Alaska or be happy that you have a "cheaper" place to fly into. You can walk downtown and see the touristy shops, or you can go into a local bar/restaurant and meet the people. You can pass through and decide you don't like it right away or stick around awhile and maybe you'll find something that makes Anchorage unique. The city has hidden surprises and maybe those things aren't items you can take back as tokens of your trip but memories of the people you met, the wildlife you saw and the amazing scenery in our backyard.
I don't expect you to come here and love the city immediately--it took us well over a year with points where it still drives us crazy. But give it a chance--every time we've gone out, we've had a good time. And I haven't had a single bad meal or beer here yet. Nor have I met someone mean.
I'm not crazy about the new campaign, "Big. Wild. Life." It certainly wouldn't have sold me. Rather, think of it as a place where out the front door you have all the amenities, vibrance and pulse of a city. Out the back door, you have some of the best wilderness you could hope for.
- Pros:it's a city w/ all services, convenience and much to do
- Cons:it's a city w/ city problems--congestion, crime, homelessness
- In a nutshell:It's rustic. It's modern. It's typical. It's anything but.
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PA2AKgirl's Related Pages
Anchorage Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
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- "My 2 Alaskas"
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- "frankcanfly's Anchorage Page"
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- Warnings and Dangers in Anchorage
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