Thursday 21 December 2017

Silver Explorer, Day 4 - Brilliant, Stanley

With thanks to Silversea for this hosted cruise

In the night we sailed around the end of West Falkland and then East Falkland, and into the harbour of Stanley (not Port Stanley, never has been locally, it was a war thing) where, thanks to unexpectedly clement weather, we moored at a jetty instead of out in the harbour. There was a complimentary bus tour of the town, which was conducted by locals – always the best way to do it.
Louise told us all sorts of things, from the economy (fishing licences then tourism and wool) and population (3,200), via history and everyday life to quirky stuff like the local diddledee telegraph which puts Facebook in the shade. She was delighted with the weather – here, you comment on the lack of wind rather than vice versa – and so were we. We saw picturesque shipwrecks (commonly abandoned rather than inadvertent sinkings, after too high an estimate for local repair), whale skeletons, war memorials, living lawnmowers (sheep), Government House (Shackleton reckoned it was colder inside than the Antarctic), neat gardens, somewhat ramshackle – but cute and colourful – houses. And then driver Robin showed us how to cut peat.
Afterwards we wandered, loose, round the town, fortuitously missing a heavy downpour while in the excellent museum, emerging to bright sunlight again. There was Christ Church Cathedral, in much better shape than the one back home, with its blue whale jawbone arch (and impressive kneelers, one of them with orcas on it); traditional English red phone boxes and mail boxes; a brick terrace that could have come from Brighton; a bright yellow tin building; lots of lupins and trimmed hedges; pubs; gift shops heavy on penguin stuffed toys; and more Land Rovers than you could shake a stick at.

Then it was back to the Silver Explorer for a skilled exit through the aptly-named Narrows, past the classically lonely Cape Pembroke lighthouse and back into the South Atlantic for our two-day journey towards South Georgia in winds three times what was predicted but, oh happy day, coming from behind. As it were.

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