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Iceland & Greenland Adventures - Part I

Author: Linda V. (More Trip Reviews by Linda V.)
Date of Trip: July 2005

Ernie, GAP

Scobey, zodiac driver - Tasmania

Steve and Heidi

Saturday; July 2, 2005 The Explorer - Day 2; Vacation - Day 4 Denmark Strait - towards Greenland

"The old man knew he was going far out and he left the smell of the land behind and rowed out into the clean early morning smell of the ocean." -- Ernest Hemmingway

Nina and I woke up at 7AM and went back to sleep until 8:30 until the "bing bong" intercom greeting woke us up, "Good morning ladies and gentlemen." I jumped into the shower but couldn't figure out how to make the water warm (instead of scalding hot). Ouch. Breakfast was served until 9:30, so I dashed down and grabbed a bite and brought some breakfast back to Nina in the room. They announced that there would be a celebration as we crossed the Arctic Circle and to get out on deck immediately. I made it there as they counted down, "10, 9, 8..." and sipped some really gross strong booze - Aquavit. Nice toast!

At 10AM, Roger gave a lecture, "Introduction to the Arctic". He shared some nice photos. The next lecture was, "Introduction to Cetaceans" with Morten. This also included some great photos of the various marine mammals that can be seen in the Arctic. Hopefully we'll see that elusive polar bear!

We ate lunch with a nice older couple from England - Jane and Michael. He seemed like such a proper English gentleman. He kept making jokes about being old - he must have been in his mid 80's. It's great that he's out here seeing the Arctic. After lunch, I took a quick nap and then went to Frank's lecture on "Tips for Trip Photography." Frank is a professional photographer hired by GAP for this trip to take photos for their Arctic brochure. He presented many photos with tips for capturing your subjects. He suggests in illustrating your travels - use photos of people with the object of interest in the background. This highlights what you saw on vacation. He suggests not framing your subject in the center of a photo - to push it off to the side. Also landscapes/horizons should not be in the center - either have more sky or water to make them more interesting. The boat offers the use of a Fuji digital camera while on bard at no cost (well...except that $200 deposit.)

I hung out on the deck outside and watched the birds fly behind us and dive back and forth across the sky. It was a beautiful blue day. Grabbed a couple of cookies at tea time and hung out more. I'm being brave and not taking any seasickness medication. Hopefully it's a smart move...

At 5PM another lecture took place - Jacky's "Introduction to Oceanography". She went into detail about our oceans and the earth. Unfortunately, I snoozed for much of it. Kim Crosbie, our expedition leader, calls the lecture hall "the womb." Everybody gets nice and warm and comfortable. The lights are low, and it's easy to drift off.

Darlene and I hung out on the back deck enjoying the day. One of the expedition people rushed to tell us to go up by the bridge to see the fog bow. It's like a rainbow but consists of fog. It was a cool sight. An arch of fog reflected back into the ocean with lots more fog surrounding us.

Went to the Captain's Welcome Cocktail Party and had a mimosa and a kir royale and chowed on pretzels. The captain, Paul Heslop, was British and a funny guy. He introduced some other crew members and ship staff. He kind of reminds me of the actor, Alan Cumming.

At dinner we sat way in the back and were joined by Kim, the expedition leader. She's from Scotland. This is supposed to be the fancy Captain's Welcome dinner. Unfortunately, the entrée choice was salmon or eggplant stuffed with feta. It was a nice dinner though. Kim was great. It doesn't sound like we will actually see much wildlife on our trip - she slipped by saying we'd head over to the Iceland coast at the end of our trip to make up for the wildlife. Scoresby Sound (they refer to it as Scoresbysund) is supposed to be amazing. She says we've got a great captain and excellent ship so we should be able to penetrate it and see amazing cliffs and stuff. The boat used to be chartered by Abercrombie & Fitch (the really expensive company). They switched to a fancier boat. She is writing a book on South Georgia Island and tourism. This will be used by cruisers to that island. She says it's a great place.

Nina and I hung out the rest of the evening in the lecture hall and found Darlene in the lounge at around midnight. I wanted to get my sunset photo, but the fog had obscured it. Bummer. I can't believe it's so bright outside! It seems like the middle of the day.

July 3, 2005 Sunday; 9:45 p.m. The Explorer - Day 3; Vacation - Day 5 Approaching Scoresbysund, Greenland

"The ice was here, the ice was there, the ice was all around: It creaked and growled, and roared and howled, like noises in a swound!" -- Coleridge, Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

We're relaxing in the lounge after a full day of cruising. We pushed our way to Scoresbysund - smacking into icebergs and breaking them apart. It was neat to lean over the deck and watch as the ship broke through. Sometimes we had to back up and find a new path. The day was mostly foggy with sun peaking out once in awhile. We didn't have fog in Antarctica - I guess because the air temperature is much cooler down there. The warmer Arctic air meets the ice and creates fog. Our port holes have been closed, now it's like a cave in our room so it'll be very easy to sleep.

Oh yeah - yippee - our shower was fixed, and I was able to take a nice warm shower and wash my hair. Nina and I made it to breakfast around 9AM.

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