Did you know that Santa has time to visit the South Pole on Christmas?

It was hard to be upset about Christmas today.  I did manage a few minutes of guilt that I was selfishly avoiding spending the holiday at home but we were so busy that the feeling quickly passed.

We started the morning at Saint Andrew’s Bay.

It’s hard to describe the landing.  It’s home to the largest population of breeding King Penguins in the world.  The penguins were everywhere.  For as far as you could see.

It’s about a mile walk from the landing point to a hill overlooking the colony.  During the walk, we passed Fur seals, an Elephant Seal or two, and a few reindeer (appropriate for Christmas, don’t you think?)

You also have to cross a couple of fast moving streams.

Finally, you get to the top of the point. 

Yeah, see all of those multi-colored dots?  Those are penguins. 

The beach was littered with fur seals, elephant seals, and King penguins.

We finished our visit and returned to the Le Borreal.  And just as we were getting ready to move to the next point, the ship was visited by Santa Claus in a zodiac.

Who knew he would have time to fly all the way to the South Pole just to visit us?

I should also mention that Lisa and Scott scavenged a Christmas tree for their room from the bar. Which of course we opened a few present around on Christmas day.

It wasn’t as bad as some other passengers.  One family of four checked 9 bags and had 4 large carryons.  One bag was full of decorations for a Christmas tree that A&K supplied from Ushuaia.  If there is a limit for passenger happiness from A&K, we sure haven’t found it.

Later in the afternoon, we visited Grytviken.

Grytviken is home to Sir Ernest Shackleton’s grave in a small cemetery outside of town.

We climbed a short but steep hill to view the dam and lake that provides water to the town, wandered through the museum, and of course went shopping at the gift shop.   It’s a good thing it was there because I was starting to go through shopping withdrawal.

We ended the day with a short Christmas Day service at the Grytviken church.

The church was built by Norwegian Whalers almost a century ago and was recently restored by a group led by the A&K ship historian.

The service it was led by fellow passengers who made up for what they lacked in regular churchliness with excitement and appreciation.

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