Antarctica was everything I envisioned it would be. It was the most dramatic landscape with unique, unexpected experiences daily. There is so much I want to share with you and so many photos that I wish I could just post it all in one day but I’m going to try to pace myself. I’ll start at the end of the world, Ushuaia and bring you on a fantastical journey to Antarctica and back aboard tall ship, Bark Europa.
I felt ill-prepared when I arrived. How did I get here? Will I be helpful or a total mess? This is what shapes character and changes a person forever. You could argue that every moment in our life changes us, but there are some moments so great and different from anything we’ve ever experienced, that we can never go back to unknowing. They are benchmarks that leave us with extra pieces to fit into our hearts and our eyes for you now have more colors and shapes and sounds that you never thought existed.
The day had finally come to step foot on Bark Europa and begin my journey to Antarctica. I couldn’t even see Europa from the dock. She was sitting between two tankers and looked tiny in comparison. When I reached her, I was awe struck with her beauty.
Check in was scheduled for 5 pm but I’m incapable of being on time, which doesn’t mean that I’m late. I’m always early for everything and this was no exception. I showed up at 4 o’clock and was welcomed on board by one of the crew. I was the first trainee so I was able to watch as all of the others came on board. In total, there were 32 trainees. Most people walked on the ship with a spouse so I flocked to the other single travelers. I quickly established a small group of people that I could see myself hanging out with during the trip. One guy, Andy, and I both giggled like school girls as we talked about climbing the rigging, seeing wildlife, and hitting the open ocean. A few others joined us who are interesting as well. I loved hearing the stories of travel and adventure. Most trainees had a lifetime of stories to tell. I only remembered a few names on the first day but I had three weeks to ask questions and learn more.
We left port at 6 am. Making our way to the fueling station, I stood on deck and marveled at the majestic ocean waves starting to take shape before us. I had only slept for a couple hours but I owed it to myself to get up and see Ushuaia off. The mountains had a fresh coat of snow and the air was crisp. We motored out of port so the sails had not yet been set. This was just the beginning of 22 days at sea.