I have finally managed to do it; after being dragged from clubs an hour before my flight, passing out in check-in lines, falling asleep at gates, being told over intercoms that the plane will leave without me if I’m not on it in 2 minutes exactly, experiencing Cairo’s extreme lack of road rules and any sense of urgency, and getting stuck in the middle of a Cambodian King’s parade while on the way to the airport; I have finally missed my flight.
Have you ever been on a flight from Rome to Buenos Aires, with a connection three hours after landing, to wake up mid flight and discover that you are running four hours late? It’s not the best feeling, but at least essentially being inside a tin box 50,000 feet in the air, there really isn’t anything you can do about it so there is no point worrying.
Once landed, having spent a good hour and a half in immigration because my ‘lovely’ immigration officers didn’t understand what a ship was, nor did I know the Spanish word for it (which is apparently barco), and even less did they understand why I was planning on spending near to two weeks in the Antarctic on it, I finally made it to the Argentinian Airlines sales desk, recovered from a very brief moment of frustration, and somehow managed to utter Spanish words I don’t even remember ever hearing, and bought another ticket to Ushuaia for a whole $500 Pesos (USD$90). Then, Amazing Race style (I’m still convinced that I would be the greatest contestant that show has ever had, as long as I picked a partner who can confidently read a map – ironically, geography is not my forte), I headed over to the other airport, on the other side of the city, and managed to check in with plenty of time to spare. Which also ment, plenty of time to ‘make friends’. This particular time this involved an extremely talkative Dutch guy, who’s physical features would have made him perfect as a Hilter’s Aryan Race poster child, and wouldn’t shut the feck up about how apparently every single hostel in Ushuaia is fully booked, and then tried to bludge a ride from my transfer guy. But over all he seemed like a really nice guy. Obviously socially unaware, but I can honestly say he is by far one of the least crazy people that seem to have an unmanageable urge to talk to me in airport waiting areas.
The next 24 hours were spent exploring Ushuaia, which happened very quickly as it can hardly be classified as a town, let alone a city. I would have loved to have gone up into the mountains and national park, but the town itself offered some great views regardless.
That afternoon we ended up on one of the town’s boat jetty, which not only was were we were boarding, but also docked a couple of other more luxurious cruise ships, and several container ships, loading and unloading cargo.
The Akademik Ioffle was our home for the next two weeks. The Denmark built, ex-Russian ship has a sister ship and submarine, which during it’s construction during the Cold War was ment to be used to spy on US war ships. This never happen (at least not with this ship) as the Cold War ended before it was finished. It’s past, and means for development however mean that it is extremely stable.
We ended up departing at sunset, and we’re left with some views which were only the start of some aw inspiring, silencing views and scenes which we were to witness over the next two weeks.
The next two days were spent crossing The Drake Passage, a huge expanse of blue water stretching in every direction. A few albatrosses and other Antarctic sea birds were spotted, as well as a couple of whales. I however, unfortunately, was forced to spend a lot of these two days in bed, as I really didn’t take the possibility of sea sickness serious at all; lesson learnt! I did manage to get out a couple of times and snap a few shots thankfully.
Wildlife spotted during the crossing of The Drake Passage: Wandering Albatross, Southern Royal Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Light-mantled Albatross, Southern Giant-Petrel, Northern Giant-Petrel, Southern Fulmar, Cape (Pintado) Petrel, Blue Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Slender-billed Prion, Imperial Shag, Chilean Skua, Brown Skua, Kelp Gull, Dolphin Gull, South American Tern.