In various parts of the world that celebrate Christmas, Christmas Eve is the big day. Sweden is one of them.
Sean, Derek and I hustle out of bed and bring down the tent. It's before 6, maybe before 5. From the Multanovskiy we can see a zodiac headed our way. Driving is a man in a red santa cap. Martin has come to take us back. It is, as he loves to say, yet another beautiful day with great weather predicted and we have a great deal we can do today. We're hustled on board and while we eat we get underway for Port Lockroy.
Many people have been looking forward to Port Lockroy as its the place where you can get your passport stamped, send postcards with an Antarctic stamp and postmark, and there's a gift shop. This is all very weird to me. This is supposed to be the end of the world.
As the day progresses the clouds leave the sky. The sun is brutal. Even with sunglasses it's hard to be out for long. In this part of the world noon is all day.
We all trundle off to Port Lockroy and it is a quite interesting look back on an earlier time in Antarctica but I don't want to stay. When someone else needs to return to the boat, I take the ride after acquiring a map, a passport stamp and a few pictures. I think I'm overtired and oversunned and a little grumpy. A gift shop!? And I bought some things!?
People return from land and the ship moves on to the next landing. I skip this one, I'm still feeling funky. After that trip returns the guides are getting giddy. We're going to do something special.
The Lemaire Channel is, for some, the highlight of a trip to Antarctica. Most trips people get to see it, if their ships can make it in past the ice, from the decks of their ships, cliffs and mountains shrouded in clouds, rain, snow etc.
Our plan on this beautiful, cloud free, warm, windless day is to hop in our zodiacs, cruise through an iceberg graveyard, take a leisurely ride up the channel and loop back to the ship. So we do. And it's beautiful and there's really no reason to talk about it, just go look at the pictures.
At the end of our cruise we are met mid-channel with hot chocolate and bailey's. It's lovely. Here we are sat in three boats, sipping warmth, in the middle of glassy water, surrounded by mountains, glaciers, snow, good people. In Antarctica. On Christmas Eve.
We return to the boat for a festive meal, which becomes a festive evening in the bar. I'm told Conrad and Rico have some things to answer for. We're traveling to Paradise Harbor for our last overnight anchor in Antarctica proper. When we wake up there tomorrow it will be December 25th, 2006.