Discovering The Blue Continent

Nov 17th, 2010, 07:02 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,075
Discovering The Blue Continent

In less than 10 days I begin a journey to complete a dream that began just a few years ago. A journey and a dream I consider myself so fortunate to pursue. To those that have gone before me, your stories, your pictures and your spirit of adventure have inspired me. I hope my experiences on the earth's largest wilderness area, Antarctica will move others to do the same. Join me as my adventure begins, November 26th, 2010.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 18th, 2010, 05:05 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 818
Have a terrific time!
eenusa is offline  
Nov 19th, 2010, 08:15 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,182
I'll be following along - am starting to do research on my own trip.
Hope you have a great time!
Leslie_S is offline  
Nov 19th, 2010, 09:16 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,075
Thanks, the excitement is building. A few more days of work then I leave for Buenos Aires and hope to spend a few days on my own in Ushuaia. I was glad to discover that I can fly there from EZE this time of the year instead of going to the downtown airport.

Quark Expedition has been great so far. Original trip I had booked was canceled but they upgraded me to a better ship for the same price!

Have heard nothing but good things about them.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 20th, 2010, 08:32 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,020
Newberry, the downtown airport, usually used for domestic flights, is currently closed for some reason. We flew from there to Puerto Iguazu a few years ago.

We cruised from Valparaiso to BsAs last January and it was an absolutely wonderful trip. The day we were in Ushuaia it rained all day. We cruised the Beagle Channel and got some great pictures in spite of the rain. I would have loved to spend more time walking about the town but the weather was pretty bad. I did manage to get into the visitor's center and have some postcards stamped "end of the earth," etc. We also visited the Paseo de los Artesanas and bought some nice things.

I certainly understand your excitement.
Giovanna is offline  
Nov 20th, 2010, 06:37 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,075
Just found out AEP, the downtown airport is closed until Dec 2nd, 2010 for major construction. For now operations are in and out of EZE which is convenient for international connections.

It's raining in USH but the 10 Day Forecast looks good. Have not been able to find reliable weather for the continent. Just hope it's not to cold!

Giovanna, will try to walk the town for you. Thanks for the tips.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 20th, 2010, 08:27 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,020
Thank you DMBTraveler. I'll be with you in spirit!
Giovanna is offline  
Nov 26th, 2010, 04:45 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,075
In less than 3 hours I will be leaving Miami (MIA) headed south to Ushuaia (USH). It is almost a nervous excitement as I journey to "The Blue Continent". Pinch me, I think I am dreaming!
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 28th, 2010, 12:52 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,075
Antarctica, Unfolding Of A Dream

A few years ago I received a travel e-mail about a cruise to Antarctica. Not aware of the uniqueness of travel to the area like I am today, I balked at the $1400 price tag.

Turns out that I might have made the right choice as the ship involved on the cruise hit an iceberg during one of it's voyages to Antarctica.

All of the passengers and crew were rescued. Unfortunately, I think the ship sank and became forever a part of the Antarctica ocean landscape.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...uise-ship.html

In October 2009 during a visit to New Zealand my interest is again peaked about Antarctica while viewing an exhibition at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch. Back home I begin some research and discover that a well respected adventure travel company, Quark Expedition has a wide selection of trips to Antarctica. However, the minimum price tag is now, $4000. Although a bit steep for my kind of travel, this time I am not willing to past up the opportunity for maybe a once in a life time adventure.

http://www.quarkexpeditions.com/

I put down a deposit with a K-Mart type lay-a-way plan. I begin making monthly payment in order to pay off the balance due 90 days prior to sailing. For me, this is a good plan as I will practically have my vacation paid off before I leave home.

My plans hit a small snag when I am informed by Quark that my original trip has been canceled because of insufficient bookings. I am feeling like a penguin left out in the cold but I am given some time to make a decision. I can have my money refunded or choose a trip on another ship. At first it is an agonizing financial decision as the new expeditions now start at $6000 but I go for it only to have buyers regret. $6000 is beyond my Antarctica or any where else travel budget.

Somewhere along the line there has been a miss-communication with Quark. Calling to cancel my trip altogether I am informed that I am being given the $6000 trip at my original price, a $2000 discount! Now I can see one reason, great customer service, why Quark Expedition has done so well in this specialized area of the travel business.

Monthly e-mails of the Quark Newsletter along with reading various articles and surfing the web keeps the expedition excitement fresh in my memory as I patiently wait until the end of November 2010 to discover “The Blue Continent”.

http://dmbtraveler195.blogspot.com/2...-of-dream.html
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 29th, 2010, 03:07 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,075
Antarctica, All My Bags Are Packed

All my bags are now packed but it wasn’t long ago I felt like one of the Three Stooges going to a nudist colony.

Hey Moe, “I don't know what to wear, Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk.”

Packing for a 12 day trip to one of the most remote places on earth can present a challenge. Once I leave home my shopping choices become limited and maybe even expensive if I am inadequate in my planning.

Typically, I travel as a backpacker with the least amount of clothing possible. These items along with all other necessities are carried in a single medium size backpack except for my camera equipment. So far, the places I have traveled along with MasterCard and Visa have allowed my minimalist approach to work out nicely.

With input from a few travel sites like Fodor's, I can see that this trip packing will have to be a little different. Understanding the need to stay warm, I will take the “layering approach” to accomplish this. My research tells me that “polypropylene” thermals are a good foundation to start with. Silk thermals are also an option but I have read that I might just slip slide away in rough seas if I try to use them as sleepwear.

While Quark Expedition does provide some recommendations for warm clothing and accessories, I am adding a few extra items besides a drain plug and electrical adapter that I normally bring on my trips.

A three way electrical splitter, thanks to a suggestion from a Fodorite that has previously visited Antarctica.

While a mono-pod may turn out to be better, I settle for two mini tripods both weighing less than 1 pound respectively. Each of which fits nicely in my camera bag or backpack.

Since my trip will require several Zodiac landings, light weight waterproof pants and a dry bag to keep my camera equipment safe also become necessities. I am able to easily find these items at a local Bass Pro Shop along with several packages of foot and hand warmers.

Although I have packed 4 sets of outfits including a swim trunk in hopes of taking a polar plunge, a clothes line that requires no clothes pin might just come in handy.

Feeling accomplished and somewhat prepared I begin a systematic packing scheme. I am planning on spending a few days in Argentina before we set sail so I have broken down my packing into two trips. All the clothing and items I will need once we set sail are in one large backpack. A smaller backpack has all the items that I will need for a few days around Ushuaia. This arrangement will also come in handy when I check in for my flight.

As I often do when traveling, I will board my flight with a single backpack and my camera case although this time with one or two minor exceptions. For this trip I will have stowaways with me, my new travel companions, Cisco Flip and Philips Vibe.

For photos:
http://dmbtraveler195.blogspot.com/2...re-packed.html
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 29th, 2010, 03:49 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,075
American To Buenos Aires, Nothing Special In The Air

My trip to Antarctica begins with a flight on American Airlines from Miami to Buenos Aires. The evening flight is on a Boeing made 777 which I understand is an awesome airplane. It is an approximately 9 hour flight to Buenos Aires where there is a 2 hour time change from Miami.

Tonight's flight is not full and I end up in a middle section aisle seat just behind the wing area. There is only one other passenger in my 5 seat row and he makes a quick claim to three of the seats, leaving me with a solo pillow and blanket. I find it a bit comical as he sets up a bed even before we leave the gate.

I am a bit surprised there is not much leg room on such a huge international long haul airplane. Fortunate for me, I am sitting behind two young kids that are not yet familiar with the recline button. Besides, they are to busy playing games on their seat back video display.

I don't think I can spend almost 9 hours with my knees touching the back of the seat in front of me. I am going to have to find a way to make a “mini-me” bed with the remaining free seat next to me. Luckily, I have taken a shower in the last few days and I am wearing a new pair of socks. My “mini-me” bed ends up with my feet just inches away from the head of my seat row neighbor. I wake up and we are about two hours from touching down in Buenos Aires.

Having by passed dinner, I am looking forward to breakfast. A croissant, jelly, yogurt, OJ and luke warm tea make me wish I had stayed awake for dinner. Ironically, my breakfast disappointment is soothed as I pop in my Sony ear buds and enjoy a nice selection of on board jazz music provided by “American Airlines After Dark”.

Passing through Business and First Class as I leave the airplane I realize where the “Something Special In The Air” was on this flight. Seats that turn into beds and legroom for the tallest NBA player. Unfortunately, I think that “Something Special requires an NBA player type bankroll, I just not there yet.

Overall American did a good job getting us to Buenos Aires, I just don't think it was “Something Special In The Air” and wouldn't be unless you can afford to fly Business or First Class.

For Photos:
http://dmbflyingcoach.blogspot.com/2...s-nothing.html
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 29th, 2010, 04:25 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,075
Argentina, Buenos Aires Arrival


American Airlines Flight 943 begins it's descent for Buenos Aires with a promise of an on time arrival. Although I have a few hours to make my connection to Ushuaia this is good news. With my customs and immigration forms complete I am excited to enter Argentina, the process bringing me one step closer to Antarctica.

An automatic arrival announcement is beginning made when it is interrupted, “Ladies and Gentlemen this is your Captain Kangaroo and we have just been given a delay for our arrival into Buenos Aires.”
Apparently, this is a busy time for arrivals into Buenos Aires (EZE) especially since the downtown domestic airport (AEP) is closed for construction. All of the domestic flights are temporarily operating out of the main airport.

I continue listening to “American Airlines After Dark”, a nice selection of jazz music and it does not seem too long before we smoothly touchdown. Welcome to Argentina!

As a result of the temporary airport overcrowding we are parked at a remote location which requires us to be bussed to the main terminal to clear customs and immigration. In the immigration area the tourist are separated from the locals in order to purchase an Argentina Entry Visa. This visa has varying prices from $100 to $140 depending on your nationality and length of stay in the country. Of course, cash and credit cards are accepted.

For US citizens it is $140 but the visa is good for 10 years. Let's see, if I make ten trips here a year it will turn out to be a heck of a bargain! The immigration and custom process is quite welcoming and not before long I am headed to Terminal C to make my domestic connection to Ushuaia.

Terminal C is to the left outside of International Arrivals and is about a 10 to 15 minute walk. I arrive in time to make an earlier flight to Ushuaia on Aerolines Argentina. However after several airport pages “Pasejo Senorita Delago” shows up and denies my hope to continue southbound much earlier than planned.

http://dmbtraveler195.blogspot.com/2...s-arrival.html
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 29th, 2010, 06:36 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,182
The adventure begins! Will be excited to follow along - looking forward to the next installment
Leslie_S is offline  
Nov 29th, 2010, 10:27 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,020
<>

I had to smile at this statment. This was probably the most difficult trip we ever took to pack for. Because it was summer in South America and quite cold at some of our ports, it was mind boggling to figure out what to take. Additionally, we had the formal nights, etc. on our cruise and I love dressing up when we cruise. It worked out well for us, actually never wearing the heavy coat and boots I bought for the trip (we must go to the snow this winter so those purchases won't be a total loss lol). We did end up buying a small suitcase in BsAs which held all the "heavy" stuff and made it easier for us to manage on the trip home.

Anxious to hear about Ushuaia. Hope you have good weather!
Giovanna is offline  
Nov 30th, 2010, 08:08 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,075
Antarctica, Aerolineas Argentina To Ushuaia

Unable to get on an earlier flight, thanks to Senorita Delago, I search the waiting area and find one of the few electrical outlets in the waiting area. I must charge up my Acer Netbook. Traveling the globe, I have few different ones so I can keep powered up. It sure would be nice if someday all the world's electrical outlets would just get along. Is that to much for a King to ask?

What time does the 14:30 flight for Ushuaia depart? Apparently, it is not at 14:30. However, today it is understandable since the airport is running at full capacity due to construction at Buenos Aires other airport. Having been delayed slightly on my original flight inbound to Buenos Aires, I am patient as I wait for my next flight outbound.

My flight to Ushuaia is a direct flight but will first make a stop in El Carafete, Argentina. This flight is on a Boeing 737 and I end up with seat 24F. It is a window seat on the last row of the right side of the aircraft. We are taken by bus to a remote area where we board the airplane using stairs and I am glad to see the pilot getting his windshield washed. I would not want him to not be able to see out his window or get lost on the way to Ushuaia.

Finding my way to 24F I discover I will not have to worry about a seat neighbor making a bed. I will have the whole row to myself. Departing Buenos Aires I get a view of the city as the airplane turns and climbs it's way towards El Carafete. Pushing the recline button, I rest my head against a side panel and I am soon asleep. I hope the two and a half hour flight time will go by quickly..

I wake up to some interesting scenery below us, a watery snake stretching for miles and miles between rolling brown hills. In the distance snow capped mountains tell me the landscape is changing as we make our descent for El Carafete.

A short stop and every window seat especially the ones on the right side of the airplane becomes “Something Special In The Air” as we make our initial departure from El Carafete. Passengers ignore the seat belt sign as they move side to side from window to window to get sparkling views of the scenery below. Jagged mountain peaks blanketed with patches of snow or a river covered with glacier ice. The views are so spectacular that there is no blaring announcements for us to sit down. I think the flight attendants are so use to passengers getting up during this departure that they leave us alone to soak all in.

It's about an hour and twenty minute flight from El Carafete to Ushuaia that rewards us with more gorgeous views as we make our arrival descent. With a bright blue sky and scattered puffy white clouds, our flight is so close to the mountains that I feel like I can reach out and touch them.

What started as a dream a few years ago is now one step closer to reality as Aerolineas Argentina Flight 1872 touches down at Malvinas Argentina International Airport. It has taken me almost 18 hours to get here since I left Miami. Stepping outside the airport, smelling the fresh air brought to me on a cold wind and taking in the splendid scenery, I know my journey here has already been worthwhile.

For Photos:
http://dmbtraveler195.blogspot.com/2...entina-to.html
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 30th, 2010, 08:10 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,075
Ushuaia, weather nice! Sailing in less than 3hrs! Updates after Dec 10th.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Dec 10th, 2010, 12:27 PM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,075
ANTARCTICA CLIFF NOTES

Just got back from, Antarctic Explorer. This posting is just some quick highlights that may be useful for those planning a trip south or are already on their way there. So much more to write about such a spectacularly beautiful and awesome place.


QUARK EXPEDITION

From start to finish a fun, professional and safety conscious group of individuals. They did a fantastic job and seem to be a great value for the money. Only expressed disappointment was from the campers. Not enough time, cold (it snowed) and being pecked by birds (funny). I did not go camping but will share more about my Quark experience later.

I would not hesitate to highly recommend them.

For Photos:http://dmbtravelertnt.blogspot.com/2...xpedition.html


USHUAIA, ARGENTINA


The Beagle Canal tour is a must. I highly recommend Navegacion Canal Beagle. Small boats, Yate Tango and Yate Che. Maximum 12 passenger per boat with a more personal touch. AR$186 about U$45.

For Photos: http://dmbtraveler195.blogspot.com/2...-canal_10.html



El Tren Del Fin Del Mundo, overrated. Checking out the gift shop and historical artifacts is about all you need to. Visit the Parque Nacional and take in the same scenery but from the great outdoors. Train is AR$130-300 about US$32-75. Entrance fee to Parque Nacional AR$65, US$15 but the park only accepts pesos.


Rental cars are expensive, AR$230 and up with limited kilometers usually 200km a day. Cinco Estrellas was the best rate (US$60) I found and they were nice to deal with. They will also arrange to pick up or drop you off at your hotel. They can be reached 24hrs a day, 02901-1551-11-10.

www.5estrellasrentacar.com.ar


There are many great restaurants along Avenida San Martin. King Crabs are a very popular menu item for about AR$90 (US$23). I dined at El Moustaccho and shared a bottle of Postales del Fin del Mundo Cabernet. The food and wine selection was excellent with reasonable prices.

Any of the museums in town are worth a few hours of your time if you are interested in learning more about the history of the area.

For more on Ushuaia:

http://dmbtraveler195.blogspot.com/2...antarctic.html
DMBTraveler is offline  
Dec 10th, 2010, 01:32 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 469
I had to laugh out loud on your remark about the disappointment from the campers; cold..... omg really? .. your camping on the ice of the southpole... what did they expect? .. lol
Can't wait to view your photo's
Nikao is offline  
Dec 10th, 2010, 04:23 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,020
Welcome home. Sounds as if your trip was all you expected and more. Wish we'd been able to explore Ushuaia much more, but fully enjoyed the short time, rain and all, we had. We did a Beagle Canal tour (much larger boat but excellent service). The lighthouse was the highlight for me, but enjoyed seeing the sea lions and coromorants as well. Did you see penguins anywhere on your cruise?
Giovanna is offline  
Dec 10th, 2010, 08:16 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 189
I hadn't seen your thread until now, and am very much enjoying reading it!

Your quote "So much more to write about such a spectacularly beautiful and awesome place" captures exactly how I feel -- it's been almost a year later for me, and I still haven't organized or written up everything I want to!

Thanks for writing this up!
SelfPropelledTripod is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:14 PM.