Friday 20 November, 1.03pm, my cabin
It's an odd thing indeed to wake up one day and look outside your porthole and see not rolling waves, as you have seen every day for the past two weeks, but instead, casual as you like,
land, with buildings and everything. But that was the scene when we arrived in Grytviken, South Georgia’s capital and pretty much the only settlement of any consequence in the whole place. Along with Stanley, it's the only other inhabited place we'll visit on the trip. Jamie lived here at King Edward Point for two years as part of the British Antarctic Survey, so he was like a little kid all day seeing his old friends.
Since we were docked, I figured we’d just be strolling off the boat that day, but not so much – the first point of call was Shackleton’s grave, which was across the water on the other side of the bay, so we tumbled into the Zodiacs as usual. Well, you wouldn’t want to break TOO much with tradition. David made a great speech at the graveside, and we all obediently slurped our whiskey at the appropriate moment, observed by a solemn group of king penguins.
After that, I went for a stroll with Daphne around the old whaling station, and I’m so glad I did, because our dawdling paid off. While everyone else was dashing ahead to get to the museum, we walked at a more leisurely pace, and ended up running into David again. When he’s not making toasts to long dead adventurers, David is a talented travel writer and photographer, and he had tucked himself round a corner and was snapping away at some frozen tussock grass. Now, we’ve seen more than our fair share of tussock grass these
past few weeks, but this was truly spectacular – the ice from the buildings above had melted in the sun, dripped onto the individual blades of grass, and because the grass was sheltered by the bottom of the building, it had refrozen and built up layer by layer. It looked so strange, like a frozen explosion or something. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
We caught up to the rest at the museum, where Daphne decided to get the Zodiac back to the ship because she was feeling a bit under the weather. I went to look at the Shackleton memorial with Kim, Jane, Justin and some others. Jamie was leading the way, and made it sound like a bit of a trek, so I was quite surprised when after only about 5-10 mins walk we made our way up
a set of rough steps and found ourselves at the outlook where the memorial cross is located. The memorial was constructed by Shackleton’s men, and so it has that extra bit of poignancy to it – mind you, knowing that your leader repeatedly risked his own life to save yours would certainly inspire loyalty. On the way back to the ship, Justin and I took a bit of a detour to look at some of the elephant seals on the beach, which I’m glad we did, given that in the afternoon, I was going to go look at some more with Jamie, but instead I ended up falling asleep. All those early mornings and late nights catching up with me. Jamie tsked later when I explained where I’d been, but I really didn’t mean to sleep so late – I was KO’d, Daphne was also thinking a nap was the plan, and because the ship was docked, we could wander in our own time, so we decided to sleep for a bit then head out later. Next time we knew, we were being woken up at after 5pm by Andrea arriving back from her
afternoon. Ah well – the sleep was well worth it, as it revitalised me for tilting my head to one side and adopting my most interested face for Jamie’s bar talk that night, discussing his time on King Edward Point. The crush finally backfires – I’d been impressing people for days with all the wildlife and geographic knowledge I’d picked up from my chats with the boy, but unfortunately in the course of such chats, I’d heard a few of his KEP stories already. Rarely is looking bored a successful pulling tactic, though.