Tag Archives: Antarpply Expeditions

This Adventure Made Possible By…

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Anna Maria Esposita for finding us on the side of the road in Salerno, putting up with our feeble attempts at Italian, and magically making our luggage appear out of nowhere.  Maya, for introducing us to AirBnB in the first place…our travels will never be the same.  Our barista in Vietri Sul Mare (thank you for the doughnuts, we hope you made it to Australia!), and our wildly flirtatious maitre d’ (that wine was impressively strong!).  Fernando, for the ride to the Tiber (we’re sorry if we gave the impression that we wanted to boat back to Rome).  Pope Francis for instilling humanity into our visit to the Vatican.  University of Manitoba College of Medicine for changing the direction of our lives while sitting in a Roman burlap tent!  Jamie Pierce, for pointing us in the direction of Cinque Terre in the first place.  Kaya and Aeden for being the best roommates we could have asked for, and Sarah, Alicia, and Stacey for getting lost with us in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  And for the calamari cones.  Genius.  The Lemon Man, for delicious homemade wine with a side of really disgusting jokes, and the Pizza Man for abusing/believing in your employees (either way, you made a pizza in record time, well done!).  Pak Kashmir Doner Kebab for starting a 3-month-long love affair with kebab…and for not judging us when we came back twice in one day.  The Sprachcaffe receptionist for helping two confused travelers find a place to sleep in a language school.  Pietro for being a (very charming) walking encyclopedia of Florentine espionage.  All’antico Vinaio for your legendary sandwiches and free wine refills (no, seriously, it’s for real!).  The lovely couple who shared coffee with us on the train to Venice.  Archie & sons…your front hall will forever evoke in us a sense of oriental mystery.  The kiosco girl (and all of Vienna, for that matter) for your patience as we realized we knew literally NO Deutsch (“Card!…48?”).  The Musikverien Usher for engaging us in a Viennese musical intrigue and, therefore, much better seats!  Our Bulgarian/Brazillian (Bulgrillian?) cellist hostel roommate.  We tried to find you on iTunes but alas we were…so far…but…so close.  The Heinrich and Kress families for welcoming us so generously into your homes (and travel snacks that nearly broke the bus tables!).  Artur & Irina, we feel like we have a real home in Germany thanks to you.  Robert, Christian, and Erwin, we hope we can jam and play Dutch Blitz again one day!  Johannes for an unexpected evening of German tango (we’ll bring our dancing shoes next time).  Julia & your roommate for making us feel so at home in Köln.  Viel Glück to both of you in your new jobs!  Oma for always talking about your home country and inspiring us to retrace your Sunday walks down the Rhine.  Maybe one day we can go back with you!  Linda, dankjewel for your bikes, your lovely attic, and taking a chance on us as your first AirBnBers!  Edwin and Farah, for taking the time to hang out with us even with your wedding being a week away.  Once a WOOFer, always a WOOFer (ps come to Manitoba, we’ll take you to the snake pits!)  The stars, for aligning so perfectly as to allow us to have a lovely lunch with Dorien.  The Alma Dixons for getting us to and from Europe in the first place (Mom, your axiom of ‘would you rather have stuff or memories?’ has successfully stuck with me into adulthood) and for showing us all the places you always talk about.  The Farnham Dixons for a lovely afternoon and some authentically British fish’n’chips (sans mushy peas, thank-you!).  Wendy for taking this whole motley crew into your home and showing us around Glastonbury. Elly for introducing us to your family (I cannot imagine a more adorable kid to blow bubbles with than your granddaughter) and an evening of reminiscing about icebergs and penguins.  Pete & Patricia for the most incredible Welsh hospitality, and for driving us all over the country at all hours of the night.  Mark Hanford for keeping us simultaneously amused and not dead as we threw ourselves off cliffs into the sea (still waiting for those carpets!).  The disembodied Welsh couple whose voices helped us find our way out of the mist and back to the path somewhere on Mount Snowdon.  Jack Johnson, for being you, and for entirely coincidentally being in Paris at the same time as us.  Andréanne, for showing us around your beautiful new Swiss home.  Irene and Martin for sharing so many things with us: your inspiring work and outlook on life and faith, the truly breathtaking landscapes, and yes, the little bears :P.  Andreas and Simone, also for sharing so many things with us (like mother like son, eh?): your friends, your family, your food, your car, your bike…. That night with the giant map (and the many road trips that ensued) is still a memory that we talk about regularly!  Aric and Gabriel, for being as excited about the high-ropes garden as we were and never judging us on our (lack of) Swiss German. Joël for sharing your beautiful pays et famille. Yannick for the best duck I’ve ever tasted, and Hélène for showing us the work you’re doing to help new immigrants become self-sufficient in Toulouse.  Ron, Nicole, Aimée, Sean (and yes, Cougar) for making us recognize the name Carcassonne, even if we’ll never pronounce it properly.  Les Cabys des Taillades (et oui, de Paris aussi!) for sharing your passion for history, many hours of games (we now have our own Möllky set!), French puns, and more wine and cheese than any North American could comprehend.  Mami Caby, for a beautiful afternoon in St. Jean du Gard, and the silk scarf that’s currently on display in our living room.  Isaac and Sylvia of JUCUM Barcelona for the generous hospitality, the 2AM tour of your majestic city, and showing us what we truly believe is the best beach in Europe.  Hind, Nour, and Adam for helping us finish off the bag of snails and confirming everything we’d heard about the welcoming nature of Moroccans.  Nour, of Sahara Desert Crew, for an unforgettable few days of sights and culture unlike anything else we’ve ever seen (also, your mad photography skills. ‘Nuff said.).  Cafe Restaurant Nora, for providing a literal oasis in the desert (Nothing tastes as good as Berber pizza and Berber whiskey at +50C!) The Samnoun family for taking us in when our hostel was suddenly infested with bedbugs, and Bousha for introducing us to the madness of the Medina (and many, many friends ;)…)

And of course, contributions from VIEWERS LIKE YOU!

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“Have you ever been to the part where the people walk upside-down?”

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I distinctly remember these words from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as Prince Caspian tries to wrap his mind around the concept of a round world, and thinking disappointedly that such a place does not, in fact, exist. Still, the lure of this mystical ‘end of the world’ never quite left my 6-year-old mind, but was instead relegated to the section of brain that stores thoughts such as going to Mars or riding dinosaurs.

You can imagine my sense of disbelieving excitement when Sara and I saw how close (relatively, at least) we were going to be to Antarctica and thought that maybe, just maybe, it might be possible. Several very-long-distance phone calls and humorously mistranslated emails later, we had secured a cabin on the M/V Ushuaia on its first Antarctic voyage of the season.

The first two days of the journey were spent crossing the Drake Passage, which is known among sailing types as the roughest water in the world. We all memorized the crew’s motto of “one hand for the boat” (meaning, “don’t even try to carry your drink and your plate of food at the same time, or they’ll probably both end up on someone’s head”), and I remain forever endebted to my dear wife for thinking to bring so much Gravol. We would stand at the windows and watch in horrified astonishment as the ship tipped so impossibly far on its side that the horizon disappeared completely from view. As Monika, one of our expedition leaders, reminded us: You have to earn your way to Antarctica.

On the third morning, however, we awoke to find we had arrived at the end of the world. Icebergs the size of office buildings drifted by with no regard for the eighty-something people struck dumb by their presence. The deafening silence and the eerie calm of the water are the only ways to describe the magnificence that otherwise speaks for itself.

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What follows is a brief tour of our visit to the end of the world:

A warm ¡Buen viaje! from Claudia, our travel agent extraordinaire! (Leandro, the ship’s hilarious biologist, is in the background)
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Paper bags conveniently placed along every railing by the crew. (What was disturbing was how fast they got used up… :S)
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First iceberg spotting!
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The incredible view from the mountaintop of our first continental landing (that’s our boat, way down there!)
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A face-peeling polar windstorm that drove all but the hardy Canadians indoors.
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‘Zodiacs’, large inflatable rafts that were our means of landing on and exploring the iceberg-ridden bays of Antarctica (keep in mind that the shore is made of ice, and is therefore far too unstable to drop anchor!)
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One of the hundreds of aforementioned icebergs.
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Possibly the best reminder of the hazards of messing with nature: the remains of a Norwegian whaling ship that blew itself up in 1915 (exploding harpoons = bad idea all around).
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My birthday party on the boat (along with a sampling of some of the ridiculously interesting, hilarious, and friendly people we met).
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Once a top secret British military outpost, this shack at Whaler’s Bay is now a great place for kids like us to do photo-ops!
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Farewell, beautiful Antarctica, until next time…

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