And finally...November 30, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 1 °C
My plane touches down 15 minutes behind schedule, and I’m certainly glad to get out and stretch my legs. That was a long flight. And yesterday’s luggage incident has continued to have knock on effects, as many passengers have chosen to come straight back on this flight, which means the flight was overbooked and lots of people ended up being being downgraded, to much anger and vitriol at the check-in desk. I must admit, I didn’t know they could do that. Thankfully I wasn’t one of them, but Dinah, one of the ladies who was on the cruise with me and who is in her eighties, was downgraded to economy from premium, which she’d specifically booked for the extra leg room, as she suffers from joint pain. I went down and offered to swap seats with her during the flight, but she wouldn’t have it. Suffice it to say, we’re all glad to be back on terra firma.
I’m being driven back from the airport, which is a lovely treat, as I didn’t manage to sleep at all on the plane, so the prospect of a 3-4 hour drive would not be at all welcome. The quiet time gives me chance to reflect on the last three weeks. It has been a truly wonderful experience and a unique privilege, getting to visit Antarctica. Before I left, I remember reading a quotation from someone saying that if you can describe Antarctica, then you’ve probably never been there. I understand that 100%. It is indescribable in its entirety - the best I can attempt is to try to illustrate small pieces of it. Thankfully photos help, but again, they don’t really capture the scale of it: the ubiquity of the ice and snow.
The months of planning for this trip were fraught with problems: from issues with medical forms, mutterings of a possible BA strike in November, the outbreak of civil unrest in Chile and of course, my parents’ last minute cancellation... if I were a superstitious person, I might be inclined to think that Antarctica is not keen to give up its treasures without you having earned them. But, once we we arrived, it treated us remarkably well. The weather was glorious, and even on the few occasions when it wasn’t, it provided us with new and exciting opportunities. Notwithstanding my lousy sea-legs, the Drake Passage was incredibly kind to us in both directions - even more so when I compare it to the horrific waves on some of the YouTube videos I foolishly watched before setting out. And I found myself in better company than I could’ve hoped for, which was truly wonderful given that my trip suddenly became a solo adventure. To my fellow ‘explorers’: Sarah, Dinah, Anne, John, Wendy, Jennifer, Barry, Roger and Leslie - and especially to Rick, who made sure I never had to eat alone and who kept me company on all the expeditons - I’d like to say a massive thank you, and I hope our travels continue to take us to new and exciting places. And to those who have been reading along, thank you so much for your support. Until the next time, I’ll leave you with one final Antarctic sunset.