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01/06/2010

Stanley, Falkland Islands

With scattered clouds and patchy blue skies overhead, we made our way down the gangway for a morning of exploration in the Falkland Islands. This windswept archipelago of oceanic heath land is among the few places left on earth that can truly be described as ‘off the beaten track’.

There were a multitude of organized tours for us to choose from here in the Stanley. Some of us headed out on the Long Island farm tour, where we learned about the use of peat as an energy source and had the chance to cut some ourselves. Perhaps most fascinating was how relaxed the sheep seem to be during the shearing process, during which they just lie back in a completely docile fashion. We appreciated the opportunity to get to talk with some of the locals, gaining a better appreciation for what life is really like out in the ‘camp’.

Others of us headed out on the Falklands Battlefields tour, getting an inside look at the 1982 Anglo-Argentine War, which we had followed from afar many years ago. We also learned about the archipelago’s role in earlier wars. Visits to the location of some of the old trenches, several monuments, and numerous other sites of importance during the 1982 conflict helped complete the picture in our minds of how the war played out and what it would have been like to live here at the time.

During the afternoon, we had the opportunity to explore the quaint town of Stanley on foot. Occasional rain showers came and went, but glorious sunshine and nearly windless conditions were our more regular companions during the day, rather unusual late summer weather here in the Falklands. We took in the picturesque houses with their multi-colored tin roofs, the open grassy lawns often inhabited by families of Upland Geese, and the cornucopia of gift shops and art galleries that are scattered along the waterfront and throughout town. It was a lovely place to amble around, grab a pint at one of the local watering hole, or sit on the green (carefully avoiding the goose droppings) while looking over the bay.

After a shuttle ride or leisurely stroll along the shoreline back to the pier, we reboarded the ship and grabbed a cup of tea in the Verandah. The Minerva moved position from the pier to the outer harbor where she carefully tied up to a fueling tanker. It was quite a delicate operation, but the Captain pulled it off seamlessly. Meanwhile, fellow guest Rupert Bursell presented a fascinating and insightful overview of the 1982 Falklands War.

Once evening rolled around, we were all back on the ship and many of us gathered for a cocktail in the Shackleton bar, where stories of the day’s events intertwined with the sounds of laughter and soothing background music provided by the ship’s pianist, Andras Vamosi. It had been a wonderful day of exploration in this far-away corner of the world.
 

   

It was a beautiful day in the quaint town of Port Stanley in the Falklands.

A group of birdwatchers chose to go on the Nature Trek as their morning outing.

Magellanic penguins were seen near Gypsy Cove on the Nature Trek excursion.

The most famous place in Port Stanley is the cathedral with an arch made from the jawbones of blue whales.

The rusted shell of a shipwreck rests in the bay in front of Port Stanley.


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