Alaska Highlights

As promised, I put together my travel highlights from my trip to Alaska. After screening all 1,962 images, it was pretty tough to pick my top four. The state is just so incredibly beautiful. You can tour a whole year through Alaska and still wouldn’t be able to see everything. Just three words: magical, endless and adventurous.

My personal Alaska highlights

Just a little side note before I put together my highlights. Alaska is worth a trip for you if you love the great outdoors, are up for adventures and have some camping experience, not being afraid of the wilderness. If you are looking for a wellness destination or some nice city trips, this is nothing for you.

Denali National Park

Well, this one is obvious. One of the most magical places. However, there are several ways you can explore Denali: by a touristy bus tour, staying at a cottage and going for daily hikes or by camping.

There are soooo many cruise tourists coming to this place, it can be pretty annoying. Thus, I would recommend to explore Denali on your own. Take the train from Anchorage to Denali: it is a beautiful 8-hour train ride through the whole state where you can spot wildlife and get to learn about the history of the state, exploring some of the most magical spots. But only take a one-way ticket. Either finish your trip at Denali or go to Fairbanks afterwards. But don’t book a tour where you have to take the train both ways only staying for one or two nights. You should schedule in at least five days for Denali – in my opinion. It’s a real paradise for outdoor lovers. Also, make sure to compare prices. Sometimes you find cheaper tickets with Gray LineAlaska or when you buy a coupon book at the visitor center so that you get a 2 for one train ticket special. You can save up to 150 bucks.

If you are not much into camping or backpacking and prefer to stay at a little cottage, just going on daily hikes, I can recommend the McKinley Chalet Resort. From there you have some pretty cool bike and hiking trails directly into the park.

You should definitely check out the Visitor Center at the park to get an idea of all your options. Whether you are looking for trail recommendations, wanna join a guided tour or need a permit for the backcountry – this is your place to go to.

IF you wanna explore the backcountry going backpacking, then you do need a permit. You have to get a proper briefing from one of the rangers, they need to make sure you are prepared for the wilderness. But, I need to be honest: only do it when you have some camping & outdoor experience.

You need to have good outdoor equipment, you need to be prepared that it can snow at any time. It gets really cold at night. You will see wild animals: bears, wolves, moose, maybe even a lynx.

They do show you a safety video and tell you what to do when you see a bear or a moose, but there is just so much more to it. AND: don’t do it alone. Just don’t do it like Christopher McCandless! Be prepared and be aware of your surroundings and changing weather conditions.

Check out the offical park site for more specs. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the famous bus from “Into the Wild” – there was no way I could cross the river and the weather conditions didn’t allow it. But that was okay. It was still one of the most magical places.

Mountain Biking

Alaska is a paradise for mountain bikers. BUT: things are different over here. Don’t expect these awesome prepared trails you know from Bavaria, Austria or Switzerland. Alaska is WILD – so are many trails.

For Downhill & Bike Park fans, I can recommend Alyeska. If you need a rental bike, check out the Trek Store in Anchorage. They have the latest bikes and can help you out with almost anything.

One of the most magical trails that are all in good shape: Flattop Mountain Trail, Powerline Pass Ride and Kincaid Park – all Intermediate and near Anchorage. Beginners can check out the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage. Probably the sweetest single trail would be along the Lost Lake Trail. Simply awesome!

Whatever you pick, even if you wanna explore the wilderness on your own, just like I did – you will never forget these rides. Just one little tip: be prepared to get muddy, especially in September. I totally LOVED it.

Heli Fat Biking

If you are up for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, save some money and book a heli fat biking tour. Don’t book it in advance because you won’t be able to cancel it last-minute. Contact the local aviation services two to three days before you wanna do it. Either call or send them an email with your date options. Since the weather conditions need to be pretty good to fly out on a glacier, you do need to be flexible.

I personally can recommend Alpha Aviation. If they cannot help you, they can hook you up with other local services. Just don’t make the mistake and book the first package you find online or at the visitor center. Make sure to compare prices. Flightseeing experiences vary from 150 bucks to 450 bucks. So, here it is worth to make some research. Also, if you meet other bikers or backpackers, ask them, if they would be interested as well. Sometimes it gets cheaper when you have a little group of three or four.

Honestly, I wish they would offer it in Switzerland. Heli fat biking in Switzerland must be so freaking awesome.

Knik River Lodge

I admit after spending a lot of time out in the wilderness and doing lots of biking, hiking and exploring, you should definitely schedule in some time to relax and unwind. But don’t do it in a hotel or at some touristy location. Either book a nice cottage via Airbnb or pick a location far out where you have everything you need: a nice little cottage with a fireplace, access to food and water and then nothing but the wilderness. Just like the Knik River Lodge.

I loved watching the helicopters come and go from the Knik glacier, checked out the nearby trails as well as the river and could have just sat there for hours, simply reading my books and enjoying the most magical views. Their Perch Restaurant is a little food heaven: traditional burgers, parmesan fries, fresh scallops, really good craft beer and excellent wine – literally 7th heaven. An excellent place to refuel your energy.

My recommendation: stay there for three nights, then your chances are also pretty good you will get to see the aurora borealis.

What else have I learned

Well, as I mentioned earlier, there is no way you can see it all in such a short period of time. Plan at least three weeks to explore this state and pick a focus. Make sure to enjoy the highlights and don’t try to rush through everything just like these crazy cruise tourists. Also, don’t book a package. Travel on your own. This way you are far more flexible. Here are more things I will remember:

  • Anchorage (as well as other cities): totally overrated. You feel like you are stuck in a time capsule. In 1964 Alaska was hit by a major earthquake. This explains the landslide, the peculiar ripping hills and slumping effects in some areas. Naturewise, pretty impressive. But regarding infrastructure and architecture, you feel like you are stuck in the ’60s or ’70s. Only schedule in an overnight stay if you need it, but don’t spend more than one day in any of the cities. Anchorage itself has some pretty mountain views as well as beautiful views of the ocean, but the city is extremely ugly. And not safe between 11 pm till 6 am. NOT SAFE at night! So, if you wanna travel the country on your own, rather stay in little cottages in between your stops than in the major cities. Not worth it.
  • Wilderness: They teach you what to do when to see a bear and how to hide behind a tree when you see a moose, but that’s about it. But there is so much more. Make sure to learn about animal tracks, how to react when seeing a lynx or meeting wolves a night. What fish are safe to eat, what river areas are safe and how you can protect yourself. I am honest: when traveling through the wilderness, you should consider taking along a hunting weapon. There were two situations where I would have felt safer. And, to be honest: don’t travel alone. Just don’t.
  • Weather: Yes, Alaska is a wild and rough state. Bad wild fires, extreme heat, heavy rain showers and snow. I saw it all. Always be aware of your surroundings and the changing weather conditions.
  • Moose steak and reindeer burger: The meat over there is delicious. Go to local farmer markets and always buy local food or eat at restaurants where they serve local food. You should definitely try moose and reindeer. Sooo good.
  • Wednesdays and Fridays are usually cruiseship days: make sure to plan your touristy activities around these two dates. Believe me, you will regret it, if you don’t.
  • Alone as a woman: Well, as I already mentioned several times, Alaska is rough and old-school. And for a woman, it can be dangerous. There are areas that are not safe. When traveling the state, you mostly meet animals, but there are occasions where you meet other people. And believe me, sometimes people are more threatening and frightening. Once I took a wrong turn and ended up on a private ground near the river. Wow, they immediately chased me through the woods. Literally! Not fun at all. So, again, always be aware of your surroundings and not too trustworthy.
  • Don’t make too many plans: Alaska is the largest state in the USA. Hence, don’t make too many plans in advance. Take it easy, enjoy life and simply go with the flow day after day.
  • Glaciers: Yes, there are many glaciers and many excursions. They are all impressive: Knik Glacier, Portage Glacier, check out my list of recommendations.

Well, I hope this gives you a little overview of my adventures. If you wanna know more, just drop me an email or DM on my social channels. You will also find more images on my Facebook page.

xoxo

photo credits: Munich Mountain Rebel, Alpha Aviation

Alaska: The magic of the glacier

About 5 percent of Alaska’s area is covered by more than 100,000 glaciers — that’s about 29,000 square miles (75,000 square kilometers), or more than the entire state of West Virginia. While a few of Alaska’s large glaciers are advancing, 99 percent are retreating, the book, “Glaciers in Alaska,” states.

True Magic in Alaska

“Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart.”

A true saying from a Native American. Alaska is treating me well. Almost seven months after my mountain bike accident I feel good again. Happy and peaceful. I don’t have a big itinerary or major plans, I simply take each day as it comes, just following my heart.

And there it was. This pure beauty! For a moment, I was holding my breath, got goosebumps all over. Breathtakingly beautiful – simply magical. Honestly, no words can describe this experience. Untouched nature. One of the most gorgeous and impressive scenery I have ever seen so far. But see for yourself.

Glacier Sightseeing in Alaska

Alaska’s melting glaciers are losing 75 billion tons of ice a year. According to a recent study, Alaskan glaciers melt 100 times faster than scientists previously estimated. One could write a whole book on glacier melting, its causes, climate change and so on.

But right now I just want to share one of my most magical moments with you. It is true what people say: “Alaska is too big to see in one lifetime, even for a resident. But there are wild pieces that can be explored from different angles – riding in a helicopter, standing on a glacier, and of course vista gazing from a big wide deck with a fresh Alaska grown meal.”

Best glaciers to visit in Alaska

As I mentioned earlier, there are about 100,000 glaciers in Alaska. I went on a little glacier expedition, learning about some of them. In Alaska there are several glaciers that calve icebergs that do not move very far from their source. So, that is pretty cool to watch.

Below I put together my personal recommendations.

  • Matanuska is one of the largest glaciers, but it’s also the largest glacier accessible by car in the United States.
  • Mendenhall Glacier.
  • Spencer Glacier.
  • Portage Glacier.
  • Knik Glacier.
  • Hubbard Glacier.
  • Kahiltna Glacier.

Just a little side note: Blue ice occurs when snow falls on a glacier, is compressed, and becomes part of the glacier. Air bubbles are squeezed out and ice crystals enlarge, making the ice appear blue.

If you are specifically looking for glaciers you can walk on, these are my favorites:

  • Exit Glacier (near Seward)
  • Matanuska Glacier (near Anchorage)
  • Mendenhall Glacier (near Juneau)
  • Worthington Glacier (near Valdez)
  • Childs Glacier (near Cordova)
  • Portage and Byron Glaciers (near Anchorage)
  • Middle and Explorer Glaciers (near Anchorage)

I will leave you with these tips and will keep exploring this beautiful country.

xoxo

photo and video credits: Munich Mountain Rebel, unsplash.com, pexels.com

Aurora Season in Alaska

In Alaska Aurora Season is from August 21 to April 21. The best time for seeing the aurora during Alaska’s winter is 11:30 p.m.–3:30 a.m. with the peak at 1:30 a.m. During Alaska’s spring and fall (September and March), the best time to view the aurora is 12:30 a.m.– 4:30 a.m.

Although Fairbanks is known as the best place to see the Northern Lights in Alaska, you can also get a pretty good show in Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage.

You may need to get a bit outside of the south coastal city to see the lights, but it is worth it. In my opinion, you don’t need to book a guided tour for that. Simply download one of the aurora apps, set the alert and then hunt them down on your own. It’s fun.

xoxo

Exploring Alaska – Making a dream come true

“To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

Life is too short for empty compromises. Hence, I am making one of my biggest dreams come true: exploring the great outdoors of Alaska. No internet, no civilization, no plans. Just me and my bike – and some gorgeous views.

Facts about Alaska

Alaska is the largest state (in area) in the United States. It became the 49th state in the Union in 1959 after being purchased from Russia in 1867.

Acquired by the United States in 1867, the territory was dubbed “Seward’s Folly” after U.S. Secretary of State William Seward, who arranged to purchase the land from Russia. Critics of the purchase believed that the land had nothing to offer, but the discovery of gold in the 1890s created a stampede of prospectors and settlers.

Alaska is bounded by the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean to the north; Canada’s Yukon Territory and British Columbia province to the east; the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the south; the Bering Strait and the Bering Sea to the west; and the Chukchi Sea to the northwest. The capital is Juneau. (source: history.com)

There are more than 3,000 rivers and 3,000,000 lakes in Alaska. AND, pretty impressive: it has about 100,000 glaciers, covering 5% of the state. Right now, I cannot really tell you where I will end up and where the trails will take me. I will be offline for quite a while, simply living my dream.

In the end I will stop by at the Knik River Lodge, refueling my energy, just inhaling the fresh air, simply living life.

But I promise: some time later in September I will share my personal highlights and travel tips with you. Until then: enjoy the mountains!

Nature is home!

xoxo

photo credits: Knik River Lodge, pexels.com, Munich Mountain Rebel

Atlanta Super Bowl 53

My brother and I attended this year’s Super Bowl in Atlanta. And as it turned out, it was an awesome brother-sister weekend. Nope, not because of the most boring football game in history. There is so much more to Super Bowl Weekend. Read all about my personal tips and highlights.

Hyundai Super Bowl Experience

The Super Bowl Experience Driven by Hyundai is the NFL’s interactive theme park celebrating Super Bowl. For me personally, this was the best day during the whole Super Bowl weekend. My brother and I bought tickets for Saturday morning so that we had all day. We bought them online to skip the line at the entrance.

Man, this interactive theme park was huge and had it all. History of American Football and all the sports legends, interactive football games, photo ops, live shows and broadcasts, a live auction, shops, interviews and meets and greets with players and so much more. All in all there were about 43 different stations where you could earn individual badges and win some football stuff. As you can see in the pictures below, my brother and I had a great time. Simply download the official NFL Super Bowl App with the fan mobile pass and have fun.

One of my personal highlights: ‪I met Nelson Agholor from the Philiadelphia Eagles, Robby Anderson from the NY Jets and Corey Coleman from the NY Giants. My brother and I even got our footballs signed and ended up in their Instagram Stories. We will never forget this Saturday afternoon.

I can definitely recommend this sporting event and would do it all over again. It only costs about 50 bucks and is something for the whole family. Lots of fun and action guaranteed.

Just one little tip: Don’t get too excited buying something from the official NFL store on site. Make sure to compare prices online first. And wait for the day after the game, when everything is 50% off. It’s worth it.

Super Bowl Festivities

There is so much going on during Super Bowl weekend. So many side events, different parties, concerts, lots of free stuff. This year there were several big pre-concerts happening: Bruno Mars, Cardi B., Aerosmith and the Foo Fighters.

Always watch out for the DirecTV Super Saturday Night concert and buy your tickets in advance, since they sell out fast. This year it was the Foo Fighters who were rocking Atlanta, streaming the whole concert live getting the party weekend started.

But if not one of your favorite bands is playing at a concert, check out the official event calendar and look out for free events.

Super Bowl Sunday

My brother and I were so excited. I mean, he has been dreaming about attending the Super Bowl for quite some time and now it got real. Cheering for the G.O.A.T. live in Atlanta. Yes, we are Patriots fans. Get over it! We wanted to experience the whole thing and first went to Walmart picking up our breakfast and buying some camping chairs for the pre-game tailgate party. I am always up for a great barbecue.

A tailgate party is a social event held on and around the open tailgate of a vehicle. Tailgating, which originated in the United States, often involves consuming alcoholic beverages and grilling food. Tailgate parties occur in the parking lots at stadiums and arenas, before and occasionally after games and concerts. Also, it is part of the whole Super Bowl experience.

There is one official tailgate party from the NFL with lots of celebrities and famous players. The tickets start at around 700 bucks, just for the pre-game party. No stadium entrance included.

My brother and I thought we would simply hang with locals and ended up at a CRAZY block party. Binge drinking, drugs, gang bangers… Wow. That was something. I will spare you the details. Just one side note: been there, done that, no need to do it again. NEXT!

The Game

Honestly, it is not difficult to get tickets, IF you are willing to pay a lot of money. Regular ticket prices started at around 2,300 $. I don’t support this money-making business and rather save up for a mountain bike. But if this is your big dream, I got one tip for you. Prices drop rapidly right before the game. This time they dropped to 1,600 $. So, wait for it and then buy them at stubhub or a similar trustworthy source. Don’t buy them on the black market or from some dealers near the stadium. They are mostly fake.

My brother and I just went to a public screening right at the stadium. We could even have a look inside the stadium and got a feeling of the atmosphere. Yes, you could feel the boredom! I mean, come on. The first half sucked!

Well, yeah, we were lucky to see the Patriots. But darn. What an awful, boring game. Even the parties inside the stadium and afterwards were pretty lame. Was it because of the Pats, because Brady got his 6th ring, because of the dull game? I don’t know. Or was it just Atlanta? Even Pats fans outside the stadium were like: “Oh yeah, they won. Let’s go home.” SOOOO strange! My brother and I certainly know how to party and decided to celebrate back at our cottage, enjoying the moment, having fun.

All in all, an awesome weekend! We did not meet any foreigners, though. It was mostly Americans and locals, except for some sports journalists. For my brother it was a dream come true and I just had the most amazing football afternoon at the Hyundai experience. That, I would always do again. The Super Bowl itself: a liiiittlle overrated – too much money business. But we were there when Brady made history! In the strangest after-party atmosphere…

Planning Ahead

After receiving so many questions about how much money we spent, how we managed to get there, I put everything together for you.

It is actually just all about planning. I planned one year ahead. As soon as you find out where the next Super Bowl will take place, simply book your accomodation with a chance to cancel it for free. The next one will take place in Miami.

Accomodation

So here is what I did: I looked for a nice little cottage in the suburbs, did not book a hotel in the city center, since I thought it would get crazy. And that was right. Directly at or near the stadium, it was insane. Roads were blocked, construction works, security and extremely crowded – not relaxing at all. Hence, I went for a quiet neighborhood and just rented a nice little cottage in Decatur. Just a 20-minute ride from Downton Atlanta.

This was our home away from home and I simply rented it for a whole week and spent about 600 bucks. A whole cottage for ourselves, breakfast included; a nice little neighborhood where I could go running, supermarkets and restaurants just right around the corner as well as public transportation.

I booked it one year in advance and did not regret it. We did not spend a whole week there, but it was a great deal anyways. Our host Betsy was very accomodating. She would have even driven us around and even brought us some fresh fruit from the farmer’s market. Definitely a sweet home away from home. I always recommend spending your vacation in a local home, just for the whole experience.

Flights

We booked our flights about six months in advance. You will find pretty cheap deals on skyscanner. Since Atlanta was just a short stop during our longer trip in the US and Canada, we booked several flights. One important thing, though: make sure to compare prices. Very often a one-way ticket to the USA is more expensive than a round trip. Hence, my brother and I simply booked a round-trip ticket to Atlanta and back for about 300 EUR.

The flights in the USA and in Canada itself are pretty cheap. We spent 100 bucks to travel in between places. If you travel with Delta Airlines, be aware that you cannot book any luggage beforehand, only when checking in. One suitcase costs about 50 bucks. If you book a long distance flight, I cannot recommend Delta, though. Not very much legroom, pretty old planes, not the best service.

I had great experiences with KLM, Air Canada and Lufthansa. But you make your pick.

Transportation

Well, this one is tricky. Of course, the NFL recommends to use public transportation, but seriously, it was insane. Way too crowded. So my brother and I checked for any road blocks and took a Lyft.

This way, we were much more flexible and avoided the big crowds. By the way, very often Lyft was a lot cheaper than Uber. So make sure to compare prices as well.

All in all, we spent about 800 EUR per person for the Super Bowl weekend: flights, accomodation for a whole week, transportation, food, local events and stuff we bought. So, if you ever think of booking a Super Bowl trip, the festivities are definitely worth it and you can have a great time even when you aren’t inside the stadium.

And one day I will take my brother to a regular football game.

xoxo

photo credits: Munich Mountain Rebel