Friday, 29 June 2012

A Dream Vacation

Photo © Andrew Wenzel
All through the bright night Fram carefully wove her way through the ice. It was impossible to maintain full speed as icebergs were everywhere. Slow and steady wins the race. Due to the heavy ice conditions we arrived at Quillisat, an abandoned coal mining village, about 40 minutes later than originally planned.
Photo © Andrew Wenzel
At 9:40 we landed on a cobble stone and sand beach. Wild flowers were in abundance once again. In the sandy beach environment Sea Sandwort and Oysterplant were most notable.
Photo © Andrew Wenzel
As we walked up a gentle slope into the village a light drizzle began to fall. It served to magnify the melancholy feeling of the ghost town. Many of the buildings are in fairly good repair. It was occupied from 1924 until 1972. Local people still stay in the village from time to time, utilizing it as a summer get-away.

Photo © Andrew Wenzel

Snow Buntings, Lapland Buntings and Wheatears flitted about. The Wheatear chicks have already fledged. The adults birds got quite agitated if we approached their chicks too closely (by accident of course!)

It was very different from all of the other landings we have made so far. It was fun to wander around and peer inside the old abandoned buildings.

In the afternoon we planned on making a landing near the glacier Eqip Sermia which meant that our departure from Quillisat had to be on time. At 11:45 the last Polar Cirkel boat left shore. Shortly after we were on our way once again plying our way carefully through the ice.

Photo © Andrew Wenzel
By about 16:00 it became apparent that we would not be able to reach Eqip Sermia. The ice was just too thick. The Captain and Expedition Leader announced an alternative plan. We would turn a negative into a positive. We would take advantage of the now clear blue skies, brilliant sunshine and all of the glorious ice surrounding us. We would go cruising in the ice in the Polar Cirkel boats!

Soon all five boats were skipping across glass like seas towards thousands of icebergs. We had a full forty minutes to go exploring. Each iceberg was a unique sculpture. We stopped to photograph and to “o-o-o” and “a-a-ah” at iceberg after iceberg. We even had really great views of a Humpback Whale that was meandering about in the ice. Several people commented, “That was fantastic! I am so glad we switched to plan B. This was the highlight of the trip for me. Thank you!” “You’re welcome! We loved it too!”

Photo © Mark McDermott
To make a fantastic day even better the hotel staff arranged a BBQ on deck seven. Imagine us dining in the warm sunshine on deck 7 with a 360˚ view of icebergs. This is the stuff of which dream vacations are made.