Sitka, at first glance, is a very pretty place:
The ship was at anchor again, so we boarded the tender to take us ashore for our Scenic Sitka and Theatrical Performance tour.
We waited ages in the rain and cold for a 10-minute coach ride across a bridge for a view back towards Sitka.
Sitka was a World War 2 station, set up to repel the Japanese after they set foot on American soil in the Aleutian Islands. They landed seaplanes on this stretch of water.
We were then dropped off at the Centennial Hall to watch a presentation about the history of Sitka, of which more later. I’m afraid it was not much better than a school production – one dancer very nearly tripped up twice, catching her feet on the hem of her dress. Full marks for enthusiasm, though.
The start was a bit offputting, with really over the top adverts for local services – the price you pay for a free show, I guess. The “compere” was a rather irritating cartoon mosquito, but the story was interesting. I didn’t really know how the dance routines fitted into the story, but hey ho, all in the name of art……
After this, we wandered around Sitka, and it was indeed an attractive place. Population around 8,500.
For around 8,000 years, this area was owned by the Tlingit people. The Russians invaded in around 1700, looking for sea otter pelts to replace the fur they’d over exploited in their own land. They traded in these for many years, but the Tlingit people rebelled on several occasions. They won several battles but eventually lost the war.
Sitka then became the capital of the territory, which explains the presence of the Russian Orthodox Church here. However, the trade in sea otter pelts dried up, once again through over exploitation, and the Russians wanted no further part of the area. Besides, the dastardly British were advancing from the east, so they signed an agreement to sell Alaska to the USA in 1867 for 7.2 million dollars – around 2 cents an acre! Sitka remained the capital of the territory until 1906, when it moved to Juneau, where it remains today.
The agreement was signed on Castle Hill overlooking the town and surrounding area. Nice presentation of the story and some good views:
Cold and drizzly again. We caught the next tender back to the ship for a coffee and a hot shower.
We then attended the port talk for our next stop, Ketchikan. Looks interesting. More details tomorrow…..
Next was a presentation by one of the onboard astronomers. Fascinating stuff for me, as he tried, in a very entertaining way, to establish just how big space is, using various ways of scaling distances. I could bore the pants off you with this, so I won’t bother.
After dinner, when we chatted to an American and British couple, we went to the theatre to witness a performance by one of the Viking Vocalists, Georgie Faith, who’d put together a show featuring songs by female divas. She’s 25 years old from Shropshire. Just so you know.
What a show! Absolutely stunning performance. Honestly, this would not have been out of place in London’s West End. She got a thoroughly deserved standing ovation at the end.
Finished off the evening in the Torshavn nightclub once again. The band know me now and my predilection for rock n’ roll, so a great evening on the dance floor with a lady from Derbyshire and some rather tipsy Americans. First proper socialising we’ve done on the cruise.
Didn’t get to bed until gone 1 a.m. which might explain the lateness of this post.