Then there is the stunning scenery. It is the stuff you have all seen in photographs and listened to Richard talk about, and seen on telly, but let me tell you, it is so much more. I will forever be in debt to Julie for having the Antarctic Dream as I doubt I would have dared to dream so grandly. I cannot find even one of the hundreds of photos I took that even begins to tell the story of this place. It is grand and impressive. It is gentle and ferocious. It is white and it is colours that are almost unnatural in their intensity. It is glass and it is all angles and shards. It is truly amazing!
and don't get me started on the wildlife!
Penguins! One quote from someone says, if you had never seen a penguin would you believe they could exist (or something like that). They have no fear of people and the younger ones are so curious they will come up and just look you in the eye, peck at your clothes, and chomp on your fingers.
They are truly hilarious and chase each other, chase anyone's parent for food, run in small circles seemingly for the pure joy of it, and swim with such speed and grace that it is a total contrast to them on land. They swim alone or in groups sometimes of enormous numbers. They flash out of the water and you get to see their entire bodies. Such wonderful animals.
Then there is the much maligned leopard seals.
They eat the cute little penguins and can be seen tossing their bodies around in what looks like a game. They kill sometimes and don't even eat them... Despite that, they are among my favourite animals here. They too are pretty ungainly on land and elegant and refined in their aquatic movements. We spent quite a bit of time watching them as they showed off their skills around our zodiacs (the inflatable boats we went exploring in).
The whales were not as plentiful as was e pelted but we saw them in all their enormous majesty on most days. I spent slabs of time sitting on the window sill of the Discovery Lounge on the lookout for them. I got quite good at spotting their blows, that spray that happens when they exhale as they surface. There was not one whale that did not bring me to joy.
I am already back in Buenos Aires after the Antarctic leg of our travels. I cannot begin to explain the impact of Antarctica on me and just about every other one of the 130ish people on our gorgeous ship, Expedition. It was a trip where being totally looked after was just the norm. The staff, from cleaning, to expedition, to the kitchen, the chefs, the wait staff, the reception, the Captain, the expedition leader, HR department, you get it, every person on the ship was a delight! They are so passionate about what they do and so keen to give the passengers the best experiences possible, I am still just in awe.