Tuesday 6 December 2011

Springtime in the far south

That’s what we experienced today in Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world. It rained all morning and the brilliant sun came out in the afternoon. Spring is very variable here! We arrived in Ushuaia early this morning and after breakfast our passengers of the last two weeks said goodbye and went their various ways- local excursions, elsewhere in South America or directly home. Then the Fram lay quiet for a few hours although this calm belied the real situation: one of cleaning, taking on provisions, taking on fuel, and generally preparing for our next passengers to arrive later in the day. Ships are very expensive to run and they do not lay idle for very long!

Ushuaia is a fascinating city, so far south, but so dynamic and vibrant. With the Andes mountains as a backdrop, and the special architecture, you could imagine yourself somewhere in Europe. The city has developed rapidly with the help of tax incentives and subsidies from the Argentine government and the growth in the Antarctic cruise industry over the past 15 years.

After getting to know the city a little our passengers boarded the Fram in the late afternoon, checked-in, picked up their expedition jackets, and settled down in their cabins. We set sail for Punta Arenas, Chile, at about 1900h and enjoyed fantastic views of the islands and mountains in and around the Beagle Channel. However, our long day was not over quite yet as there was still a mandatory safety drill to attend, as well as a welcome reception by our Captain. Somewhere in there we had to eat as well! But we are on holiday and we can sleep when we get home!