Finally a night of sleep – over 8 straight hours – amazing! After waking up and eating breakfast it was time to drop off my luggage. While I thought I just needed to walk it across the street to the port, after asking two different people where the green roof building it was, it was 8 blocks down the street. It was raining off and on but in the mid 50’s so it wasn’t that bad. Not dealing with the snow and ice that Pennsylvania was having!! While this is their summer, it is low 40’s – I couldn’t imagine that being my summer! After I dropped off my luggage I got to explore the cute town of Ushuaia. There was this double decker bus that gave a little longer than an hour tour of the city so I thought that would be perfect to just sit back, take some pictures and stay out of the rain.
Walking along, I ran into Christine and Jamie so we went for some coffee to wake us up a bit. These patches make you a bit sleepy and have a dry mouth – so coffee hit the spot. I ate lunch of Lamb Pie at Christophers which my Dad recommended for me since mainly they had local beers. The restaurant was named after the half sunken ship that was across the street.
Boarding the ship was at 4pm – we all got on, checked in and then headed to our rooms where our luggage was to be waiting for us. My large suitcase was there, but where was my book bag with my jackets, vests? Luckily the stewardess directed me to the front of the ship where there were many bags there without the room numbers are there. My roommate is Bianca, super quiet from San Diego. Our room is not a bad size, think of a dorm room. We have a nice size bathroom, but the closet they have is pretty small. The ship is really nice – they have it all decorated for Christmas with lights and trees, garland around all of the poles and big stars on each of the doors. Pretty festive! After our mandatory meeting, we had our safety drill learning what to do when the alarm sounds and how to get into the safety boats that look like mini submarines. They gave us all champagne with these amazing pastries while the Captain welcomed us all to the boat – he was such an awkward speaker, you didn’t know what was going to come out of his mouth next. Dinner was avocado and tomato salad, fettuccine with mussels, scallops and shrimp. Dessert was lemon ice cream and fresh fruit. I can see that finding food that I like on this trip is not going to be a problem.
As I write this at 11 am night, it is just getting dark and we are about to get out of the canal and into open waters. You can already tell the boat is starting to sway and rock a bit more. I have the patch on my ears, but some of these horror stories you hear about sea sickness I am pretty worried about it. My stomach is hurting right now, but I think that’s from dinner since my stomach never likes alfredo sauce anyways. I am hoping I get some sleep tonight – I have never actually slept on a boat before. Tomorrow is a day full of lectures and learning about all of the activities we hopefully will be doing once we get to the Peninsula.
I was much calmer today since I knew my luggage had arrived to Buenos Aires and I only had one more flight to go once I checked it back in. The flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia stopped in this crazy remote city El Calefate but it is apprently the hiking mecca in Argentina and borders Patagonia. This picture is from the airport runway!! The landscapes that I was seeing, I don't know how anyone could live out there, it was very rugged! The water though was this gorgous blue that I was familiar with from New Zealand. Once we took off from this remote town, we were on our final destination of Ushuaia. These airports are so tiny and you see this runway that is almost in the begal canal - pretty crazy landing right next to all of the water. A short taxi ride got me to the Albatros Hotel. One thing I realize - not many people down here speak English - why would they need to - it has made getting around a little bit trickier then my other trips where for the most part someone around knew some type of English. I met this girl right before I boarded out of Buenos Aires and we ran into each other on the street. We decided to eat at this Crab place that the people I booked the tour through had suggested. I got King Crab soup - massive amounts of crab with some veggies. Everything in this town is super super expensive. There were people ordering an entire King Crab for over $50 on 1 crab. It was seriously bigger than my head!
I got to take a photo with the Ushuaia sign today saying end of the world. I need to find a shot glass that says that since I have one from Ecuador that says middle of the world when I went to the equator! Tonight there is some type of protest going on - apparently this is every other day where they just play music and have a parade in the streets. Not a normal protest by far. It is past 10pm here and it looks like it would be 3pm in York - no sign of night and the birds are still chirping.
Tomorrow I will be handing in my luggage early in the morning and have the entire day to explore this cute city. It has all of these cute shops and doesn't give off any sketchy vibes at all - the hardest part is just communicating with what you want. There is a bus tour of the city that they guy goes, well its $200 pesos and it includes a cup of coffee - I think after my past few days anything with coffee is going to sell me. About 15 pesos equals 1 of our dollars. So my bowl of soup really didn't cost $250 and a drink $110! Off to get some sleep because the journey really begins tomorrow!
To say I am surprised I am sitting in the Buenos Aires airport is an understatement right now. After about 5 different delays at BWI due to the high volume out of JFK, our plane was not allowed to leave NYC to come pick us up. Even after they boarded us, we parked on the runway due to the high winds and we were in a tiny plane. I was getting flashbacks of my Australia nightmare of flights! Our pilot was taking us on a flight that I would never forget! I don't get motion sickness, but with the extra roller coaster comments from everyone and that weightless feeling I was feeling quite wheezy! When the plane start starts diving and pulling up quickly I thought we were going to be crashing into the Atlantic Ocean next to the beaches. I was so happy to get off that plane alongside with everyone else! My dad was watching it on the flight tracker saying he was flying over 500mph and cutting some corners, not surprised at all! I have never flown out of JFK and found out I had to transfer terminals by finding the air train. You apparently have to leave the whole terminal climb 3 flights of stairs and there randomly is this train station. Today I have gone through security 3 times since all of these airports are now different buildings and since you leave the secure area you have to go through it all over again.
My flight to Buenos Aires wasn't bad except this airline does not understand leg room at all. My back was hurting about hour 6 on the 11 hour flight. Luckily the food was pretty decent. The plane was lit up with all of these crazy lights that kept changing, its midnight and the plane is all neon blue changing to hot pink! Getting off at the Buenos airport, it is huge! Perfect for food, exchanging money - that is until they tell you that you have to go to terminal C which is a half mile walk outside at 4 in the morning. Luckily it was already light out and I could follow some other people. I had to recheck my bag go through security again to find I am in a terminal about the size of state college with only one tiny cafe and that's it. No one speaks English here - they are all just going around yelling and I have no clue what is going on right now. My next flight is at 10 to go to Ushuaia where I will be staying the night before getting on the boat tomorrow. All I want is a shower and a bed right now! These 30+ hour trips just to get to my destination are starting to really stress me out - something to say about a roadtrip in my Jeep!
I can't believe that what started over a year ago planning for this trip is finally happening tomorrow! The luggage is all packed and things moved to my carry on backpack to get under that 50 lb mark - who knew all of this cold weather gear could weigh so much! The trek down to Ushuaia, Argentina will take more than 30 hours total between flights and layovers. Here's hoping that all of my luggage arrives on time - did you know that Delta now puts RFID chips on all of their luggage - I am feeling a little bit better about my luck with getting my bags on time! Tomorrow I will be leaving from BWI to JFK and then leaving for Bueons Aires where I have a 6 hour layover starting at 2am our time (4am their time) before arriving in Ushuaia (the southern most city in the world) around 2:30pm FRIDAY. I have my Kindle and puzzle books packed to keep me awake! Happy Holidays everyone - I hope to update this as much as I can but the Internet is quite pricy in these remote parts of the world - who knew!
To say I am excited about going to Antarctica is an understantement. Am I a bit overwhelmed with everything I need to do to get ready for this trip - absolutely! I just wrapped up getting all of the necessary clothing for my trip and packing has been a logistical puzzle - thank goodness I love puzzles! Over the past few days I think I have made about 20 packing and to-do lists and keep adding to it. I have never taken a trip like this during the middle of the school year so adding a week and a half of lesson plans to all of the other stuff has been a bit stressful. Traveling in the summer I can just focus on one thing at a time. One Week To Go!
If you haven't seen the show Continent 7: Antarctica on National Geographic - it is very eye opening to all of the scientists that visit Antarctica and its many terrains. Most people think Antarctica is only ice however there is rocky areas that do have micro organisms living there. The show also highlighted a scientist that was taking samples from Humpback Whales. What was of interest to me is that they were in an Oceanwide Expedition Zodiac boat - that's my tour company. If we get as close to the humpback whales as this scientist, I am going to be in for the most amazing trip ever. The whales the size of the boat were just "investigating" the zodiac and swam right up to and under the boat - thankfully I have a waterproof camera that will be going on the trip with me! One More Week!