Thomas Step

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Trip to Antarctica

I recently got back from a trip to Argentina and Antarctica that took me one step closer to my goal of traveling to all seven continents. I traveled with One Ocean Expeditions in order to get down there. The actual traveling took a while but everything is worth it once I got there. The time between leaving Texas and setting foot on Antarctica took me seven days. I fully endorse this trip and the experience that I had; however, I fully believe that this is something that can only be enjoyed if you want to do it. I saw multiple kids and spouses that did not seem to be having fun while their significant other was. The seas can be rough and the travel is tiring. That is my only disclaimer, so if that does not dissuade you, then you should look into traveling to Antarctica. I wanted to kill two birds with one stone (traveling to South America and Antarctica), so I spent a day in Buenos Aires on my trip down as well as on my way back. I took advantage of this time to explore the city and claim another continent. I recommend doing this no matter your continental goals because it took me three and a half hours just to get through Argentine immigrations on the way down. Most Antarctic excursions leave out of Ushuaia and flights there leave from a different airport in Buenos Aires. The trip from the international airport, EZE, to the domestic airport, AEP, takes about an hour by taxi. If you plan to make the entire trip without a break in Buenos Aires, I suggest giving yourself at least a five and a half hours to go from landing in EZE to boarding in AEP. I know that immigrations normally does not take three and a half hours, but if I would not have planned for that amount of time, then I would have missed a flight.

My main goal of traveling is to learn more about different ways of life. I believe that being a US citizen is an extremely lucky position to be in. We have luxuries that we take for granted and our way of life is simply different from many people around the world. Learning how others live and getting out of your comfort zone should be a goal for everyone. I was definitely out of my comfort zone on this trip especially in Argentina. My expectations for the culture included friendly welcoming people, bright clothing, and European architecture. Only one of those expectations was met: European architecture. I understand why people call Buenos Aires the Paris of South America. Some of the buildings were undeniable in their influence; however, there were also multiple more modern buildings. I think that numerous places tried to keep the history of their building in tact, but there was definitely newer construction going on instead of restoration. There were also way more slums than I thought I would see. Any large city is prone to poverty but it runs rampant in Buenos Aires. A highway during the drive between my hotels and AEP was lined with what I thought were destroyed and abandoned buildings. They were homes to families. The porches were fenced in (I assume to keep people out) and the walls and ceilings were missing or partially gone. Homelessness was also evident everywhere I went, but not in the discrete manner that I normally come across in the US. The homeless seemed like normally families that had come across some sort of misfortune because they commonly had children with them. They had dragged couches and mattresses with them onto side walks and under overhangs. They also had most of their belongings with them, enough to fill an apartment or house. I do not know how much of this had to do with the downward sloping economy of the country but I would assume quite a bit. Lastly, one of the only people who smiled at me the entire time I was in Buenos Aires was a local guy about my age that told me not to keep my phone out because someone would run up in steal it. He smiled as he wished me a happy new year and walked off. Even the waiters and cashiers did not care to return a smile. I found this strange considering the stereotype that I have come to know about all South Americans being friendly. Again, I do not know how much of this had to do with the current state of the Argentine economy. The biggest lesson I learned from all of this was to not await my expectations too heavily. The odds that the people and vibe of the entire city or country is the exact same are slim. And there is no way to expect an entire culture to “be on their best behavior” whenever a tourist comes around. All this being said I am glad that I went to Argentina; it just was not at all what I was expecting.

After leaving Argentina for the boat that would be home for the next eleven nights, I experienced much different types of people. I thought that One Ocean put on an excellent excursion and I recommend them to anyone looking into this type of trip. They support good causes and promote environmental consideration to all the locations they offer excursions. The staff came from all walks of life and from all over the world. My ship, RCGS Resolute, had amazing accommodations too. You can read more about it on their site. I think it is probably also worth saying that I am not endorsed or sponsored by them; I legitimately had a great time. The food was top notch and the staff was friendly. I also met numerous other passengers from around the world. I ended up spending most of my time with a group traveling from Hong Kong who were extremely welcoming and fun to be around. You can read most of what I did on the One Ocean site but I am more than happy to answer questions or talk more about my trip if you would like. Just my Contact Form to get in touch. I will also be posting pictures to my Instagram account if you would like to see more pictures. Since there are no people who really live in Antarctica I do not have any cultural observations to remark on. That being said the trip was still full of learning but mostly on wildlife and nature. I did also travel to Antarctica in a single backpack. I used my Osprey Farpoint 55. I was by far the lightest packer on that trip. If you want more information on how I packed light I would be more than happy to answer questions or maybe write about it more. I was a little concerned whether or not it was even possible since there is not much information out there about backpacking to Antarctica, but I am here to say veni, vidi, vici.

The landscape in Antarctica was beautiful. Glaciers and rocky mountains were all over. I loved taking pictures there and also putting the camera down to soak it all in. I had to make a deal with myself to only take half as many pictures as I wanted. I got too caught up in trying to capture what I was seeing that I was missing it completely. I have pictures up on my Instagram and on Shutterstock. If you are wondering if traveling all this way offers up enough beauty to make the trip worth it, it is. I was starting to question my decision as I boarded the boat.

Categories: travel