Archive for the 'Sea Journey' Category

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From September 14th to September 17th, TotalAdventure travelled on the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage north to Talkeetna, back to Anchorage and South to Seward as well as whistle stops in glacier areas. The video shows a compilation of the entire trip, along with the the incredible adventure experiences offered in each area.

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On the morning of the 14th, we left Anchorage on the Denali Star Train at 7:50 AM for the 3 hour ,150  mile ride North to Talkeetna. As Gold Star passengers we were seated in a glassed roofed upper deck, with an outdoor balcony for photography and viewing.Upon arrival at the tiny frontier town we passed Nagley’s Store. The Denali Star Train goes all the way to Fairbanks – an 8 hour journey. Fairbanks is Alaska’s second largest city and serves as a Gateway to the Arctic.

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After lunch we walked to the security –  free , private, Talkeetna Airport for our incredible flight on K2 Aviation to the Denali Base camp, where climbers for Mt.McKinley begin their 2 week climb to the Summit. Experience the flight in the blog posts below.

Afterwards we were invited for cocktails at the incredibly beautiful Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge – 5 Star Luxury Rooms with ample views of Mt.Denali on a clear day. A simple, but hearty dinner was enjoyed at Mountain High Pizza Pie – real Italian style from the owner who hailed from Pittsburgh.

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After a long day we returned to our rustic inn, the Talkeetna Roadhouse , for a good night’s sleep. TotalAdventure stayed up a few hours editing the incredible aviation footage for the video featured on the Mt.Denali post below.

The next morning, Thursday the 15th, our group split in to two. The bravest of us, including TotalAdventure went Ziplining with Denali Zipline Tour.

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The rest went on a jetboat adventure with  Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures. The rivers run fast and cold, fed by Mt.Denali’s glaciers. Interesting fact – the snow that falls today on Mt. McKinley will flow into the  river 1500 years from now. The boat stops at a remote dock for a wilderness hike, observing old trapper and miner cabins. The guides are armed with shotguns in case of bear attacks – which thankfully have not happened.

 

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After lunch we were treated to a tour of the Denali Brewing Company by founder Sassan Mossanen. Denali Brewing products accompanied many of our meals on the trip. Alaskans drink almost the entire production  – so unfortunately none is yet exported to the Lower 48.

 

Afterwards we returned to Anchorage on the Denali Star , resting for the night at the very comfortable Copper Whale Inn.

Early the next morning, Friday, September 16th at 6:45 Am we boarded the Coastal Classic Train for the 5 hour journey to Seward . It was a short walk from the depot to the town docks, where we boarded a Kenai Fjords Tour Boat for an incredible North Pacific Adventure- see below.

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At the end of the day, chilled to the bone, we checked into our toasty warm cabins at the  Seward Windsong Lodge.  That night , we feasted at the hotel’s restaurant – the Resurrection Roadhouse  – on local seafood delicacies of halibut and cod – fresh, not frozen.

Our final day on the Alaska Railroad Adventure was on the Glacier Discovery Train. Our group rode to the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop to kayak across an icy lake to the Spencer Glacier. We were guided by Ascending Path  ( See Below). The Alaska Railroad is one of the last railroads in the world to use whistle stops. The railroad serves remote areas that don;t warrant a station. Rather, a passenger tells a conductor at what milepost he wants to stop and notifies the engineer with a whistle. When getting back on the train, days or weeks later – the passenger stands by the tracks and flags down the passing train.

Our final night was at the Alyeska Resort – Alaska’s ‘s most luxurious hotel, with beautiful ski slopes overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The season goes from mid November to almost May, with snow measured in feet,not inches. Our final dinner- at 10 PM – reached by cable car – was at the mountain top restaurant Seven Glaciers – amazing Alaskan seafood, Kobe beef  – best of all Spencer Glacier ice in our whiskey glasses.

TotalAdventure has journeyed on many of the world’s railroads, as you can see throughout our blog .The Alaska Railroad is amongst the best run  – and certainly one of the more luxurious trains one can take for a daytrip. Other US train lines do not even begin to compare. Now that winter is approaching the line scales back for one weekly trip – The Aurora Winter Train !

Please scroll below, for all the Alaska Adventures !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On Friday , September 16 we boarded the 6:45 Coastal Classic Train at the Anchorage train station. The three hour jouney follows the coastline south of Anchorage, with occasional sightings of Beluga whales out the window ! The train then traverses the mountains of Chugach National Forest before arriving at Seward. At Seward it was a short walk to the dock.

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We boarded the Coastal Explorer , a sturdy sightseeing craft operated by Kenai Fjords Tours. For the next six hours we explored the northernmost points of the Pacific Ocean, at 60 Degrees North.

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Looks like Hawaii, but with snow. Last winter’s snow still on upper slopes with new snow starting soon.

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American Bald Eagle in Seward Harbor.

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Otter playing and hunting for fish.

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Seals relaxing on a warm ( for them ) 40 degree day.

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Blue ice from Glacier to Ocean.

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Incredible Oceanic Geology.

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Glacial Closeup.

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Fishing village near Seward.

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On July 2 at 7 AM we left our host’s house in Bodrum to board a catamaran ferry to the Greek island of Kos, only 20 km across the channel. We looked back at  beautiful vibrant  Turkey, hoping  to return in the near future – to explore from Istanbul to the eastern provinces.

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We arrived in port 20 minutes later. We spent nearly 40 minutes to get passports stamped, as we were re-entering the EU and Shengen. Afterwards a 50 km taxi ride to Kefalos .

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In Kefalos , we found a beachside Taverna where we ate excellent grilled squid, stored our stuff and went snorkeling.

The water was as clear as an aquarium.

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There were ruins right by the sea !

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Soon it was time to leave for the airport. We took a turboprop to Athens, flying over hundreds of Aegean Islands. In Athens – once again passport control , as we were leaving Schengen. 4 hours later – another 1.5 hours in customs entering the UK.

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Just before midnight we arrived at our hotel, after a long Tube ride. We were right by the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

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Our final day before returning Stateside was a whirlwind tour of some of the major sights.

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Iconic, but we opted for Indian instead.

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GMT + 1. The Trans European Adventure comes to an end.       7pp15pp9pp   6pp

Oct 8th
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Today ArcticTropic accompanied the delegation from Enterprise Florida on a tour of the Panama Canal. The Canal, which just celebrated its’ 100th Anniversary is undergoing a major expansion -PANAMAX – which will triple capacity and allow much larger container ships to traverse between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Ships enter from the Atlantic ( Caribbean ) side at Colon.

PANAMAX construction. Estimated to be finished by late 2015.

Gatun Lake. The total route is 50 miles ( 80 km ) and takes 8 to 10 hours. Only 32 ships a day can pass through – 16 from either side. Reservations are required 547 days in advance, but expedited service is available.

Entering Miraflores Locks.

Clearance of the ;Miraflores completed, the ship sails into the Pacific, about 5 miles away, then on to China.

 

For adventures in Panama, CLICK HERE

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Today ArcticTropic was invited on a private yacht tour by a renowned Istanbul artist who will later be featured in the Blog.Time and bandwidth constraints in the hotel make posting difficult at this time. Today was an incredible fall day with temperatures in the 70s – in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

From Asia looking to Europe.

Turkey is extremely patriotic – the nation controls a good portion of this part of the world.

The entrance the Black Sea.

Saudi Prince Abdul Aziz pops in for a visit.

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After a brief stopover in Buenos  Aires, it was time for ArcticTropic to move on to a week of business meetings in São Paulo. I decided to go by way of Montevideo , Uruguay. Buquebus Hydrofoil from Puerto Madero to Montevideo and early the next morning TAM to GRU . Though the 100 mile ,3 hour trip ( with Wifi and Duty-Free) seems to be at sea, the ship is , in fact, crossing the world’s widest river mouth – the Rio de la Plata. When we arrived in Montevideo at mid day , the entire Uruguayan Navy – all 8 ships- was out in full force to celebrate Uruguay’s 200th Independence Day. !

In the Old City, little has changed in the last 150 years.

Montevideo is probably one of the quietest capital cities on Earth. Uruguay has 35,000,000 head of cattle and only 3,000,000 people.

A DAy of Celebration.

Where the Father of Evolution began his Antipodean Journeys.

The aroma of the world’s best cuts of meat is everywhere in the windy streets. On Saturday , hundreds of diners gather at the port for excellent parilla.  ( Pa-ree-sha)

Vegans Beware !

Sweetbreads.

Portside Streets.

Colonial Street Signs.

Holy Water in a Giant Clamshell.

Peace.

Patrimony.

Edeficio Salvo.

Hotel Palacio – $40 US per night. At 3 AM, it’s time to move on to the airport.

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In 1988 the Phi Phi Islands in the Thailand’s Andaman Sea were an almost untouched paradise. I was lucky enough to visit, as a backpacker, before rampant development began in the 90’s.

The Bungalow Beach where I spent several days.

I began my journey from Krabi, a fishing port that did not yet have an airport or any hotel over two stars. About three hours later we arrived in Phi Phi. The largest structure on the island was a beautiful open-air mosque made of wood and palm fronds.

The village had no central electricity, though several bungalow settlements, the only accommodation available, ran generators from 6 to 10 PM. The bungalows were made of straw and wood.

Snorkeling the pristine reefs was amazing. Lazy lemon sharks mixed with millions of psychedelic fish and plants.

Nightlife was a trek to the village to gather around a roaring fire to eat fresh grilled fish washed down with Kloster beer, fresh from the ice pit. Later the traveler’s tales would begin, fueled by the passing around  of some Mekong Whiskey.

When I returned in 1995, the environment had been destroyed by greedy developers. An ugly concrete hotel stood where the mosque had been. The coral walls around the swimming pool had been dynamited from the reefs. The water was cloudy and devoid of fish. Jet skis drowned out the sound of the wind and swaying palms.

The 2004 tidal wave temporarily returned Phi Phi to its original look, but apparently the developers have returned with a vengeance.

Buddha in Krabi.

Krabi Beaches.

One must now go further and further in Thailand to find Paradise. However, nearby Burma offers thousands of untouched Andaman Islands. ArcticTropic will research those islands and report shortly. If anyone is headed there soon, please let us know.

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The Philippines offer extreme adventure and incredible vistas . The island nation is easily accessible from Hong Kong for shorter getaways and is well worth the trip from Europe and North America for longer expeditions.  Above is a volcanic lake not far from Mt.Pinatubo.

Palawan, Northeast of Borneo in the South China Sea is excellent for mountaineering and diving . The Coral Reefs are pristine and mostly undisturbed.

ArcticTropic will be adding several new providers in the Philippines today. Reminder to current providers : Keep your websites up to date, or you lose your opportunity to reach our adventurers !

May 23rd
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I first visited the untouched Phi Phi Islands in 1988. My return in 1995 was a disappointment – the Island had been totally overbuilt and environmentally destroyed. The 2004 tsunami only had a short term effect on that. Enjoy the view of the past.

ArcticTropic shows you the untouched places in Southeast Asia