With the largest concentrations of penguins, seals, and albatross to be found anywhere on the planet, South Georgia has been dubbed, “The Serengeti of the Southern Ocean.” And, while large birdlife usually takes center stage on South Georgia, the island was once a thriving small-bird community as well, comprised of storm petrels, prions, blue petrels, and pipits. However, with the introduction of rats by whalers and sealers, the small-bird population is being devastated as the rodents burrow into nests, eat the eggs, and kill young chicks.
When asked by the South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) to help protect this island oasis, Zegrahm cofounder and the world’s leading seabird ornithologist, Peter Harrison, enthusiastically took up the gauntlet and galvanized Zegrahm travelers during our 2011/2012 Antarctic season to contribute to the organization’s habitat restoration program. After only one year, Zegrahm travelers raised more than $150,000 towards the program. In recognition of this achievement, Peter and his wife, Shirley Metz (also a Zegrahm cofounder and the first woman to ski to the South Pole), were invited to a SGHT lunch at St. James Palace in London hosted by Anne, Princess Royal and Royal Patron for the Trust. On June 26, 2012, speaking in the splendid surroundings of the Queen Anne Room, the Princess thanked Zegrahm Expeditions for our outstanding efforts.
Zegrahm Field Director, Kevin Clement, was so inspired by his time circumnavigating the Black Sea, he put pen to paper and crafted a poem to remember.
The Discharge of the Trite Brigade
The verse that started it all (my contest entry):
The leeches, when we reached Batumi,
Found their glass insufficiently roomy.
They said, “We’re heading out.
“We’ll be crawling about,
“And if that makes you nervous, well, sue me.”
So, here’s the rest of it:
We flew into Constantinople
From all over, some ninety in total.
Not too well rested,
Our faith was then tested…
Would our bags arrive? We were hopeful.
We toured in old Istanbul;
Saw the Harem, and one or two jewels.
Big cruise ships were in—
The crowd wasn’t thin—
But we pitied those poor big-ship fools.
The pleasures of port can entice,
But our ship of the perfect small size
Was at the dock waiting,
So without hesitating,
We set sail, counterclockwise.
In Amasra, a chilling sea breeze
Whistled past walls Genoese.
Lia urged us to swim
We said, “Chances are slim…
“We’d rather go shopping than freeze.”
If you haven’t been to Amasya
You really should go there, because ya
Can see Pontic tombs
With their multiple rooms…
But the lunch there is what will amaze ya.
In the old monastery, Sumela,
The frescoes could dazzle a fella.
But switchbacking down
All the way into town
Was hard on the hips and patellas.
In Trabzon, the Aya Sofya
Is lovely, and there you can see a
Things to buy and to eat,
And from there some walked back to the pier.
Leaving behind things mechanical,
We walked through the Garden Botanical.
Later, while eating,
We watched dancers leaping
With an energy almost maniacal.
Though Sochi was really enthrallin’.
Joseph’s dacha was somewhat appallin’.
It was there that he felt
He could just be himself--
He’d go there when he was just stallin’.
With the thrill that discovery brings,
We hiked and we plunged in some springs.
With water so frigid
Our bodies went rigid—
That is, except for certain things.
The ship sailed across to deliver
Us to Yalta with hardly a quiver.
If you wanted more tossing
On this longest crossing,
Tough luck. Hey, Crimea river.
In Yalta, we set out to see a
Palace known as Livadia.
The Czar had it built,
But then he got killt,
Poor guy. It was just a Crime-ea.
In Balaklava our knowledge enlarged
Of the tale of the Light Brigade’s charge.
From their duty not shrinking
They rode without thinking,
And the Russkie boys kicked their butts hard.
My tour of charming Odessa
Involved—I fear I must confess it—
Two kinds of stairs:
The concrete ones there,
And the ones that I gave women’s dresses.
Up the Danube we went to see birds.
There were lots of them there, we had heard.
They served beer and brandy,
And the wine it flowed free,
And the birds all became a bit blurred.
We were now in the land of Romania
And an interesting bit of arcania
Is the fact that my leeches
Now feast on the beaches
In the state that includes Transylvania.
In the town of Constanta, Romania,
Ancient history is almost a mania.
When Ovid was sent there
We saw what he meant where
He wished for a climate less rainier.
Like some old Cold War aircraft carrier,
Our ship launched us out in Bulgaria.
With its mysteries old,
And its Thracian gold,
‘Twas another new country—more the merrier.
We’ve been on our own little Odyssey (the M/V Clipper, that is)
And the program’s been busier than busy.
We’ve come round so fast
On our circumnav,
That I think that I’m feeling quite dizzy.
We’ve traveled through six different nations,
On our Black Sea circum-navigation
And we think you’ll agree
When you get home you’ll need
A vacation from your vacation.
First, I enjoyed the fermented both camel mare's milk and horse mare's milk. I also enjoyed the vodka from distilled goat's milk and cow milk. Second, we had vivacious and attentive Zegrahm and local guides. The local guide was praised as an ambassador for the spirit and elan of her countrymen. Third, I can appreciate that nomads generally do not erect temples, monuments, and edifices. Timur came after Chinggis Khaan and Timur and his grandson Ulugbek revived the crafts and science that is a magnet today for travelers and tourists in Uzbekistan, comparing contemporary countries. Fourth, the trip is a nature trip and we had opportunity to observe many animals except the wary snow leopard. Fifth, all the meals were good. Eating hot lunch in the Gobi was novel.
Trip: Mongolia: Land of Chinggis Khaan
First Name: Lawrence R,
Last Name: Kravitz
After an amazing day spent cruising the Danube River in Romania, we returned to the Clipper Odyssey in the late afternoon. Once everyone was back on board, we made our way back down the Delta to the Black Sea. It was a stunning evening, with warm temperatures and a beautiful sunset. The only thing to make it even more perfect….VODKA. We convened on the pool deck for a vodka and caviar tasting. Let’s just say after a full day outside on the Danube River and a refreshing shower, this native spirit was well received. The shots ranged from smooth to fire water and points in between. Some even needed a second try, just to be sure! There were also many great debates on which caviar met the winning standards. A very boisterous and fun way to end our time along the waterways of the Danube.
Ready to try some vodka the Russian away? We still have space available on our Black Sea expedition, departing September 22!
Looking for a truly unique way to celebrate the holidays? Why not leave the stress of this hectic time of year far behind and embark on a colorful adventure to India—not only will you get to experience incredible snorkeling on our Maldives & India expedition, and visit one of the holiest places of worship for Buddhists, the Temple of the Tooth, on our Splendors of India with Sri Lanka journey, you will also get to pick up some magnificent gifts for your friends and family back home, just in time for the holidays.
If you join our Splendors of India voyage this November, you get the chance to visit Kandy, Sri Lanka, where there is a fantastic tea store, complete with lovely tea containers. The island nation is also the home of Ayurveda, a form of alternative medicine. As such, you can find plenty of lotions, scents, and herbal remedies throughout. Masks and gems also make excellent gifts, especially the sapphires, which Sri Lanka is known for.
In India, gifts abound! Authentic artisan and vintage carvings; shawls, pashminas, and scarves; images of deities in everything from ceramics to brass sculptures; and plenty of gold jewelry. In Mumbai, you can visit a store dedicated to fabric goods of all kinds—table cloths, napkins, wraps, and stoles, even handmade purses and clutches. On Elephanta Island, be sure to stop at the market on the way to the caves—silver artifacts of elephants, jewelry, paintings, wooden carvings and boxes, purses, you name it!
Don’t let the holidays stress you out this season; visit India with us and pick up some memorable, once-in-a-lifetime gifts. And be sure to get something for yourself, too!