The End of the World & The Beginning of a New One – My Journey to Antarctica

Setting Sails on Bark Europa

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.

Setting Foot on Bark Europa

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.

Leaving Ushuaia Port

Ushuaia from Bark Europa

Argentina Sunrise from Bark Europa

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.


Without Bark Europa, Whitecaps Marine, and Pilotur, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity wouldn’t have been possible.

71 thoughts on “The End of the World & The Beginning of a New One – My Journey to Antarctica

  1. I have been so looking forward to your return and hearing about your experiences and journey Lesley. I cannot wait to hear and see more about it. Your writing is starting to shape the experience. I look forward to more… 🙂


  2. SO looking forward to seeing how your adventure went! This is such a great way to adventure, not just seeing the beauty of Antarctica but learning crew responsibilities as well – I can’t wait until we save up enough time and money to try this ourselves!


  3. The photos are certainly starting to trigger excitement regarding your future posts about your trip to Antarctica, and when reading your words I am looking forward to the pictures you paint with them also.


  4. Lesley, what you wrote about those extra pieces that fit into our hearts and eyes.. more colors and shapes…unable to go back to unknowing.. that resonates SO much with me. Can’t wait to read more about your adventures at sea 😉


  5. Colours, shapes and sounds…they are everywhere and so much to take in! Thank you Lesley for a fantastic post about places most of us may not get to! 🙂


  6. Your pictures are gorgeous! What an awesome adventure. Before this, I never imagined myself ever even thinking about going to Antarctica, but now I have a desire to go. Looking forward to more. 🙂


  7. Great start Leslie. And I understand the nervous feeling. I always have it at the beginning of a new adventure where I have to master new skills. Just looking at the sailing ship with the thought I would soon be helping to sail it would give my ticker a scare. –Curt


  8. Welcome Home Lesley, I can’t wait to see and read about your adventures in Antarctica. When I travel I’ve learned that I must write down and record each experience because you think you’ll remember every detail of an amazing experience, but sometimes the little things are forgotten. I hope your trip was fantastic and that you are glad to be home. Here in the North East, I feel like I’ve been to Antarctica for months now. 🙂


    • I always try to keep a daily journal. So many things happened on a daily basis in Antarctica that some times daily wasn’t even enough.

      Are you getting bad weather? I hear that there has been lots of snowfall lately.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh Yes, we have soooo much snow that I am starting to feel like Frosty the Snowman. I live near Boston and we have had about 5 feet of snow in the past 7 days. So over it. Looking forward to reading about your trip. It sounds like an experience of a lifetime. Maybe if I was in the Caribbean I would dream about Antarctica but now it just makes me cold. Brrr! 🙂



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