Whittier_(3)-01.jpgIt’s the Summer Solstice today and I am pretty far up north right now, a little north of Sixty. It is not considered ‘arctic’ yet, I would need to be about 6 degrees further north (the arctic circle is located at 66.33 degrees). The astronomical midnight has been calculated for about 2AM that day – sunset is at 11:35PM, sunrise at 4:31AM. At night it does not get completely dark, it’s rather dim, enough to read a book or the paper. It is kind of irritating when you arrive in Whittier at midnight and the sun just sets.

Our home port Whittier is located about 100km / 60mi south of Anchorage, and there is only one road resp. railway track that connects it to the outside world… Final destination :) The town is unbeatable regarding its population: There are 200 residents! 80% are living in the same house, a 14-story apartment building. 15% live in another one at the other side of the town (about 400m / 1200ft as the bird flies), the remaining 5% live in the near vicinity in their own cabins – more or less fancy. Some of those prefer a tent – that’s what a local told us while serving a delicious halibut chowder one time.

Whittier used to be a military post, and indeed things are meager here: There’s a supermarket (or rather, a ‘Konsum’) in the ground floor of the former railway station building, a hotel (just above the supermarket on the second floor), a bar (right: on the third floor), a couple of souvenir shops, a couple of kayak rentals, a meat factory, a Chinese restaurant (oh, should I have better changed the order?), and a raindeer which is tied up in front of the souvenir store during the day. A brand-new cruise ship terminal has been built a few year ago, but other than that it’s romantically deserted.

There is a developed network of hiking trails, which crew members like to utilize during the night. Brave – because of the bears. I have attempted to go with a couple of people one day but it began to rain really heavily so we returned back to the ship. However, we made it to the tunnel which separates Whittier from the rest of the world. All of North America knows the tunnel as the longest highway tunnel on the continent, it measures the spectacular length of 3.8km / 2.5 mi. It’s closed during the night, and during the day the traffic direction alternates every hour. You better plan your emergency carefully because there is no other way out except for a boat out in the open waters of the Gulf of Alaska…