One of the best things about working as a bartender/waiter is all the interesting and fun people you meet while at work. While most customers (yes, I know I'm supposed to call them guests but a business degree apparently has its influences) are as forgettable as yesterday's lunch, a few do stand out from the crowd.
The polar explorers: We've had a bunch of people heading up for the North Pole; most of them are regular joes who've forked over a big wad of dough and go there by snowscooter or helicopter, but a few of them are the real deal.
One of them is here with his ten year old son (who will be the youngest ever on the NP); he's a nine time pole-visitor and this time he will be leading a group of crazy chinese on skis from the Russian base to the pole (his son will take the chopper).
Another, who is preparing for an altogether crazier stunt is Mark Woods. This guy is going to take a solo-hike to the South Pole, then pretty much jump on a plane up north and do another solo-hike to the North Pole. He's a really cool guy, with whom I've chatted quite a bit (British blokes in general tend to spend a lot of time chatting in bars) and I wish him all the best on his endevour!
The rich guys: These also fall into two categories; they either want to see a Polar Bear (and are prepared to spend lots of money on it), or are stopping by until they continue onwards to the North Pole. I have two personal favourites in this group, both of them Brits.
The first is now visiting for the second time since I got here and is getting quite desperate to see a White Teddy. Thus far, he's logged several thousand km on a snowmobile and is on his fourth visit up here, but still no sightings. He's travelling the world to see all the major mammals and is now down to only the Tiger, the Panda and our own beloved Teddybears. He's a lousy tipper, but tells good stories about past trips and coming adventures. Also, he's pretty much single handedly emptied our stock of Chardonnays. Quite a feat in itself.
The other one is a real old-school British industrialist. One of those who built up the western world as we know it after WWII; pulling himself up from humble beginnings and ending with way more than he knows what to do with (at least according to the bar-side stories). He had factories all over the world - from the UK to Hawaii, from China to France - but now he's retired and spends his time hopping between Andorra, Barcelona and Mallorca (with a few jumps all over the world). This one is a true story teller and a great tipper; preferring Champange to Chardonnays.
Then I have to give an honorable mention to the retired world class footballer who visited us last week with his wife and kids. And I even know what the Italian brute said, which led to his final red card.
These and many others are the guests that visit our not very icy shores. I'm sure there will be plenty more who stand up as the months pass by, and I'll probably tell you a bit about them too.