Stella Australis (23.12. - 27.12.)
Day 1 (23.12.)
On the 23rd, a very special part of our vacation began. At 6 p.m. we boarded the Stella Australis, a small Chilean cruise ship (small at least on the scale of cruise ships), along with around 200 others. We had a really big cabin, with a huge window to see everything around os on this 5 day trip. Sometimes, me and my brother would sit at the small table in front of the window and just watch the world passing by, while drinking mate. But as the schedule on the ship was full of excursions (or, as they called it - probably for marketing reasons - expeditions), presentations and eating, we didn't end up in front of the window that often.
Day 2 (24.12.)
Already in Ushuaia we had been talking about how long it stayed bright outside, in contrast to at home, where it was winter. On my grandfather's birthday, which happens to coincide with the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, the 21st of December, it was most obvious. At half past nine in the evening, it was still almost like daytime. And on this year's 24th of December, I made myself a nice little Christmas present. I got up at 4, to photograph sunrise. That was a great idea. Not only because seeing sunrise from a ship, near Cape Horn, at Christmas day, alone on deck, is a pretty special thing. Also because in the days after we never got another real sunrise, it was always too cloudy that early in the morning.
Later this day, we were supposed to go on land on Cape Horn. But, due to waves at the place we would land, we couldn't. And so, we saw Cape Horn from the ship and didn't get to set foot on it, too bad.
This year was only the second time in my life, I think, not celebrating Christmas with all of my family. Usually, we would meet at someone's home and have a yummy dinner together, talk, drink and just have a good time. This year, Christmas felt a bit forced to me. The crew was running around in Santa hats and they even had one of the crew members walk in dressed up as a Santa and take pictures with people at their tables. Fortunately, we escaped the room before they came to our table. I really wonder, what kind of bet the guy in the costume lost.
As a Christmas present we also got to witness a beautiful rainbow over the patagonian landscape, unfortunately my camera was nowhere near and I could only snap a picture with my phone - but it turned out rather good (see it in the folder with the images which you can find in the first post).
Day 3 (25.12.)
On the following day, we did an excursion to a glacier, and we got pretty near to it's white and blue face, sometimes seeing and hearing parts of it fall off and land in the water. It was similar to Perito Moreno, but with a lot fewer people around and a different feeling of course - this was not a glacier that every tourist in Patagonia sees.
I absolutely loved the moody atmosphere while we were there, just before we stepped into our zodiacs to return to the ship again, it started to rain a little bit. And when we were back on the ship, leaving the glacier behind us, I saw how the rain had, just a bit further up, still been snow. So I guess we even got a white Christmas! Where the falling snow had melted and transformed into rain, it left a perfect border line of snow on the landscape. And the mountains around us were surrounded by clouds, revealing glaciated peaks and cliffs.
Later that day, we would go to another glacier, where we were given the options of either staying on the ship or doing a hike on land to a waterfall. I chose to stay on the ship, as we were told that the views of the glacier would be much better from the ship than during the trip on land. My brother and father chose to go on the adventure, walking on a path that gets very few visitors, compared to the likes of Torres del Paines crowded trails. I also used the time to edit some of my images of the trip, with the beautiful views of the patagonian landscape in front of me.
Next time: more glaciers, this time from even nearer, and penguins, tons of penguins!