Friday, 28 January 2011

Shopping Frenzie!

The weather gods were not as kind to us as yesterday, but it was not a bad day either. The famous Lemaire Channel was our first major sight early this morning, very early indeed! It had been snowing heavily all night and we woke up to a rather bleak morning, but luckily the cloud cover was high enough and we could view the extraordinary scenery as Fram found her way through the narrow passage. Surely, it is one of the most fascinating areas of the continent. The first landing was Peterman Island. The Expedition Team went out first to prepare everything for us. They always look like true explorers when they get into the first boat; ever cheerfully they go out and make sure that our visits are conducted safely and with minimal environmental impact. Peterman holds many natural beauties with unique views of glaciers, the Antarctic mainland, icebergs, and a lot of wildlife. There is, for instance, a very special "multicultural" colony which houses Adelie penguins, gentoo penguins, and cormorants all at the same time. The wind had meanwhile picked up considerably and we all got soaking wet during the boat ride to the island. Not very comfortable, indeed, but if you want everything to be nice and warm and dry you must not go to Antarctica!

Our second "port of call" was a former British station, Port Lockroy, which is a wonderful museum nowadays. It takes you right back to Fifties and Sixties when life in the stations was still much more basic and simple than today. The penguins occupy most of the island but there are plenty of exhibits and interesting remains from the olden days to make for a wonderful afternoon. Port Lockroy also operates a post office which is part of the Royal Mail, and everyone took the opportunity to send cards or letters to our loved ones at home with Antarctic stamps and all. There is also a souvenir shop with a surprisingly vast array of gifts and souvenirs from Antarctica. Most of us spent far too much money; it is, however, for a good cause, because the proceeds go towards the upkeep of historical sites in Antarctica. It was a funny sight when everybody came back from the landing with shopping bags. We were told that we should always have our hands free when we get on and off the boats; but how do you that when you are laden with cameras, binoculars, rucksacs and shopping bags? Believe us, there was enough reason for smiles and laughter again today.

Tomorrow we will be in the South Shettland Islands again, which means that our adventure is slowly coming to an end; but we refuse to think about that yet, because more fascinating Antarctic enounters await there.