11.40am - Summer On The Continent
Trip Start Nov 03, 2009
20Trip End Dec 02, 2009
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
In 1984 I was born in England, Europe.
In 1991 I went to the United States, North America.
In 2000 I went to Egypt, Africa.
In 2006 I went to the United Arab Emirates, Asia.
In 2008 I went to New Zealand, Australasia.
In 2009 I went to Argentina, South America.
And yesterday, I went to Neko Harbour, Antarctica.
Twenty five years. Seven continents. Tick!
After we reached the bottom, it was looking like we’d have to go straight back to the Zodiacs, but in one of those instant weather changes we’ve begun to anticipate here, the blizzard began to lessen until it was more or less gone, meaning we could stay a little while longer. Well, you don’t need to tell us twice, so we immediately started wrestling around in the snow, taking photos, loudly discussing penguin sex and generally having a whale of a time. We all have a thousand pics of penguins and seals and whales, too, so it was nice to get some photos of my friends in all our snow gear, instead of just in the bar. In only a few short weeks, I’ve become incredibly close to these people, and I can’t believe this trip is almost over. It’s a terrible thing to say, but I don’t miss
After Neko Harbour, we headed back to the ship to warm up, but our day in Antarctica was only just beginning. After wolfing down some lunch, we bundled ourselves up for the afternoon of Zodiac cruising and then landing at Paradise Harbour. Some people wanted to cruise first, and others to land, but since for me cruising is always more important, I wanted to get on with it whilst the weather was good. I was queuing with Jane, giggling about Zodiac gods again, when would you Adam and bloody well Eve it, they decided to forgive my little indiscretion from the other day and when I got to the top of the queue, the next boat to appear was helmed by the gorgeous Mr Watts. Jane has always respected and feared the awesome power of the gods, so she got her perfect boat as usual (I’m not the only one around here with a staff crush, you see). Didn’t get much company on board, but I learnt my lesson after Deception Island and no longer question these things, plus most of my friends were kayaking or doing a landing anyway. I spotted Jane on
Anyway, cute drivers aside, it was a truly wonderful trip around the glacier at Skontorp Cove. They’re even more dangerous than the icebergs because you get maybe a second’s warning that they’re about to calve, and if they do and you’re anywhere near them, then forget about it – your boat is going under, because even if you’re far enough away from the ice itself, you are still going to get hit by the mini tidal wave that ripples out from the impact of the new iceberg crashing into the sea. But the danger is well worth getting close enough to see them (although ideally not close enough to tragically die), because they are unbelievably beautiful. The one here looked like a huge building, with Gaudiesque turrets atop it. Between that and the icebergs floating peacefully nearby, it was a truly spectacular sight. I literally could have spent hours there, but eventually it was time to land. It wasn’t exactly a hardship though – you walk through a little passage after you land
Noz (of the clan Darker) was watching me in amusement from the top of the path. I turned and called to her for assistance.
"Just sit down and slide on your arse!" she shouted helpfully, grinning.
I cocked an eyebrow. “You’re all going to laugh at me!” I shouted back.
“Go over to the left – see where everyone else did it?” she yelled, pointing.
I gingerly made my way sideways across the slope, discovering, as she’d said, two grooves that had been worn into the snow by the bums of the earlier landers (another reason it was good that we came later – we didn’t have to make the grooves ourselves). I sat down carefully and pushed myself off. Before I knew it, I was flying down the hill at fricking warp speed, digging my fingers and heels in to try and slow myself down. Fortunately, there were stops along the way where little dips cropped up and I skidded naturally to a halt each time I found myself approaching terminal velocity. It was the most fun, because waterproof pants are slick and shiny so you go fast, but they are, by their very nature, warm and waterproof, so you don’t get the slightest bit wet, and you’re wearing so much padding it’s not uncomfortable. It was, rather stupidly, one of the best times I’ve had, just because you’d never find a hill that high and steep covered with snow that clean and deep anywhere else but down here. And the fact that the trails had already been worn made it even better, because you knew it was rock-free!
Finally, we had one of the best bar talks we’ve had the whole trip. For every mealtime where someone on the table has eaten any kind of salad, the question has always been raised – how the hell are they keeping this lettuce fresh when we haven’t docked at any ports in weeks? Eventually a couple of us decided they had a garden somewhere on the mysterious deck 2, where the Russians live, and left it at that. (That is also where they grow pot, make moonshine and have the orgies and knife fights. It all goes on on deck 2. My impression of Phone Sex Annie mainly revolves around speculating what goes on on deck 2.) Tonight, the bar talk was from Steve the chef, whom I have struck up something of a friendship with over the weeks, and it was fascinating,. He got more questions than anyone else the whole
After the barbie and the talk, the night degenerated into the usual drunken tomfoolery and dancing about outside, because for once, it really wasn’t that cold, so we made the most of it. It also meant we got to spy on Solan, Woody and Coolio in the almost altogether after just emerging from the sauna. Utterly excellent. I am desolate that our time is drawing so rapidly to an end, but determined to make the most of these last few days.